Be Careful of Sweetsy-Cutesy

I like a little edgy with floral. Aside from the frumpiness issue, I see some clergy women in great clothes who look like they’re dressed up like little dolls. It’s something that petite, pretty women have to consider. You don’t want to get too Emma Pillsbury:

She has FANTASTIC clothes and is adorable, but she’s a cliche character on a wacky TV show. Real life women need to be careful not to get too sweetsy-cutesy:

Watch for things that are all buttoned up and princess-lined. Go with the classics. See how much more adult this tailored look is?


Even in black and white, this is too girlish. Young clergywomen, don’t do this! I don’t care if you still want to “look young.” If you’re a minister, wear this on vacation.

Black with a touch of bold color. Fabulous. Chic. Professional.

15 Replies to “Be Careful of Sweetsy-Cutesy”

  1. PB, you’re going to have to help me on this one… I’m a) not sure what’s wrong with sweetsy-cutesy, and b) not sure why these particular outfits are considered sweetsy-cutesy. Is the black and grey London outfit too cutesy because the skirt is too short? Is it possible to show your knees and not look young?

    I would *much* rather wear skirts and dresses than pants, but I’m finding that my wardrobe (I just started full-time ministry three weeks ago!) is full of skirts that I love that hit right above my knees. I really want to looker “older” & “professional” (I’m 25 and the youngest pastor the church has ever had), but this post is making em afraid that I am veering into cutesy. Perhaps it’s because I love Emma Pillsbury…

  2. I agree- what makes things like the grey sweater and black skirt too sweetsy-cutesy?

  3. I wear dresses or skirts 90% of the time. I can see wearing suits occasionally, but when everyone in the congregation is in Dockers or capris I’d look a little dour if I wore a suit all the time.

    Other than the skirt being a little short for clergy I don’t see a problem with the black and grey outfit. The attorneys who work in our family court wear some version of this if they are under 40. The trick is to get the whole thing right (they tend to wear too little shoe and show too much leg in my opinion)

  4. I love the Emma Pillsbury look (without all the bows and fluff), and I’ve found that it’s mostly about balancing something floral or with a bow detail with a more tailored skirt/pant. Otherwise, I do look like I’m in costume.

  5. I agree on the black w/ gray sweater — looks ok! And was the first outfit a “do”? I like that one!

  6. The first look is just interesting — of course a clergywoman would not wear a tube top like that, but the juxtaposition of a bit tough and floral is a good idea to go with in general.

    The black and grey outfit is too girlish because the skirt is too short. Cheerleader ponytail, tight top, poufy little mini skirt and flats? No way. Not if you want to project a grounded, mature image.

    Emma Pillsbury is too costumey, but the general idea of her outfits is lovely.

  7. Make that black skirt a little straighter and lower it a few inches, choose a more substantial handbag in a great color, throw on a pair of kitten heels, add a lovely scarf at the neck and lower the ponytail to the nape the neck – then it would not be sweetsy-cutesy. But as is, I totally agree with the assessment that the look is immature.

  8. I agree the black n grey one would be fine for a minister with a longer skirt and more mature styling (the girl in the pic is young and looks appropriate for her situation).

    I think the black and pink could end up quite dull. It would need some suitable black and/or pink accessories to make it look intentional rather than the dull default of ‘black suit, bright top’.

    Also, I think the colour combo is a bit much for high summer. A lighter grey suit with the same top would be good, or even navy. (I’m all into blues at the mo. )

  9. I like the first outfit with the floral print skirt very much although I would wear it with a T shirt or as she is wearing it with a strapless top and a little jacket. About the pants suit I’ll admit I hate them and have never owned one but I think too many people are wearing them these days anyway in the summer a dress or skirt is cooler.
    Last week I wore a black t shirt, black & white print semi mini skirt, bronze metallic clogs & around 10 metallic bangles I thought that worked.Not sweetsy-cutsey no. To me floral prints with ruffles are sweetsy cutsey, most of these outfits look OK.

  10. Random question – how do you get the on-the-street photos? Do you ask first, then set up the picture taking, or take the picture and assume it’s ok to use the person’s image, or take the picture, then ask…
    [Mostly I just shoot away. If I’m going to be making a Naughty on that person I blur the face. Sometimes I ask, like if someone’s sitting down. – PB]

  11. PB–I have a picture of a perfect clergy ensemble that I took at our recent bishop election. How do I send it to you?

  12. looking at these again. . . .what is with the severe, greasy looking, slicked back, harshly colored hair? I know it is hot, but that is not a good look I don’t think. [Hmm. Didn’t notice… and it’s not at all hot here. – PB]

  13. Fwiw, if you like the Emma Pillsbury look but don’t intend to go overboard with it, this site is for the Emma-Pillsbury-obsessed:

    http://www.wwepw.com/

    It has a lot of filler right now because there haven’t been any new episodes of Glee in a few months.

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