Unconstructed Jackets

Hey, hombres,

I notice that a lot of you have trouble finding a professional look that’s comfortably located between formally dressed in a suit and dressed in a polo and jeans. You need to step up your non-suit professional game. Yes, you can go around trying to bring about the Kingdom of God in a fleece, but sometimes showing up for love, justice, resurrection and community needs more oomph and more visual effort. I personally don’t understand why leaders attend gatherings that aim to change the world in clothes that broadcast their identity as Comfy Pal. “I will go right from these halls of transformational change directly to the tables of Panera where I will settle in with a Hibiscus iced tea and continue to not threaten the status quo at all!”

“Don’t be scared of me and the power I represent! We’re not going to make any real demands, just suggest that folks be nice and share.”

One option that I recommend you investigate is the unconstructed blazer – also known as a deconstructed jacket and other similar terms. These are great garments that look sharp but move a lot more easily on the body than the usual padded business suit jacket, because they’re not padded or fully lined. ‘Cause I’m not saying that you need to barrel around everywhere in a suit. I’m saying bring it up from Comfy Pal.

Let’s take a look, fellas! Some of these I found on eBay, even! There’s no need to pay $228 from J. Crew.

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The way these jackets are styled look pretty dressed up, right? That’s fine. You don’t have to wear them that way. You can wear them open over with good jeans and a shirt and tie. You can wear them with a nice Tshirt underneath and a pair of nice cotton chinos (Note adjectives good and nice here — which means clean, crisp, not worn-out, not wrinkly, no stains, and good fabric).

You know how I can identify the clergy in the room? They’re the ones dressed in dowdy or sloppy clothes looking like deep down, they don’t expect that anything will ever change. You know who looks sharp as hell? The people who have a plan and some ambition to get it done. Let’s be those people. Do you look like someone God is working through, or do you look like someone who has given up and is hoping God will rescue them?

5 Replies to “Unconstructed Jackets”

  1. Amen! Reading your post, My mind immediately turned to that picture you showed us of one of your sister clergy (not sure if she was UU or another group) at a protest with a microphone, looking sharp and full of passion for justice at a protest or some other rally.

  2. Each jacket paired with the appropriate slacks communicates that the “fella” is taking his public event seriously. However, each looks toned down from a more formal suit that might be more appropriate for officiating a wedding or funeral. You can even pull this off without a necktie. Excellent middle ground for professional clothing!

  3. I find this appalling.
    The most spiritually rattling wisdom attained through ministerial guides throughout history, came/comes from soiled hands… from, torn at the knees.
    I am not even sure how i managed to read this entire article, as my mind scoured images of beloved icons… in rags, and how universal spirituality is, and how sad… whitewashed and formal – wrapped in a pretty package? I can assure you, the most meaningful things you will ever do or learn in life come when you’ve got dirt under your nails and a rip in your jeans. [Ministry is a profession as well as a vocation. I agree with you that “dirt under the nails” is a great place to be spiritually, but if we walked around looking like literal gardeners we would not be meeting the demands of Planet Reality. I have certainly dispensed “spiritually rattling wisdom” while walking the beach in torn jeans and sandals (my Jesus look?) but I work for a congregation and represent them in the wider community. I’m afraid the “just came back from eating locusts in the wilderness” look would not signal my holiness and detachment from materialism but rather than I am simply a rude slob.Reality is so inconvenient to our cherished romantic ideals. – PB]

  4. Amen to everything you wrote here, especially: “Yes, you can go around trying to bring about the Kingdom of God in a fleece, but sometimes showing up for love, justice, resurrection and community needs more oomph and more visual effort.” Spot on!

  5. Lillith – I understand and deeply sympathize with your concern. I come from a parallel place. When I first began reading this blog, a part of me worried that this blog was supporting a kind of materialism, or a denigration of the leadership of people of modest means. But a personal experience changed my mind. A number of years ago I attended a funeral for a police officer. He was killed off-duty in a traffic accident. The pastor from his church was dressed in a knee-length floral print dress, and sandals. I thought her sermon was wonderful, but noticed that a number of people around me thought that she was not taking the occasion/context seriously. Why? She looked dressed for a Summer picnic, and not for comforting a grieving community. Her nice picnic outfit unintentionally communicated a casualness to this death, that many around me found confusing. That is when it dawned on me that being in positions of public leadership, sometimes our clothing can convey messages that we did not intend. And it has nothing to do with the wealth of the preacher. A cheaper but longer dress with plain shoes (even if a bit old and worn), would have been less distracting to this clegyperson’s larger pastoral message.

    That said, I do believe that there may be room on these topics to consider how we clergy can make the mistake of over-dressing in contexts that also communicate poorly. But considering the way many of my brothers and sisters ignore our own appearances, the weight of the problem seems to be about “under-dressing” for the context of our ministries.

    In this article I thought P-B was trying to show us guys another option for more casual public events, that are neither formal funerals, nor jeans and t-shirt missions/service events.

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