General Assembly Edition: Baseline “Nice”

Okay, doll babies,
We’re getting ready for summer conferences! WOOT!
The Unitarian Universalists have General Assembly in two weeks, I will be doing a PeaceBang “Ministry With a Bang” Event next weekend in Portland, OR, and we all have a full calendar of denominational gatherings, leadership summits and fancy get-togethers.

I’m going to take a little bow here and say that honestly, things have gotten so much better with the Unitarian Universalists over the past five to ten years. I’m going to take a little bit of credit for that if I may, since I don’t see anyone else having openly discussed clergy image and public ministry and the importance of not succumbing to lazy instincts and nonsense messages like, “It’s the inside that rullee counts, so I can wear my long, scraggly Halloween witch hair and communicate to the public that I represent a proud religious tradition that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of all people!”


Meanwhile, PeaceBang ages and grows more lined in the face, puffier of eyelid, and fatter as she functions like the portrait of Dorian Grey to her denomination. The struggle is REAL.

Rather than put up a list of suggestions or tips right now, I thought I would open the floor for your specific questions about what to pack. Comment away! Let’s consult!

My two big tips are:

1. Wear comfortable shoes but not hideous shoes.

2. If you’re not presenting, look polished and nice, but be comfortable. By now, if you have been attentive to the Gospel of PeaceBang, your baseline sense of “nice” is clothes that fit, clothes that probably require zippers and buttons to fasten (as opposed to entire outfits you can pull over your head or pull up over your bottom half with elastic), structured garments, careful grooming, and foundational undergarments that fit your bits.

3. If you are presenting, be on your game. Suits are a good bet, depending on your panel or occasion. Far better to overdress than underdress. You’ve been honored by the invitation: show it.

Now, let’s hear from you!

7 Replies to “General Assembly Edition: Baseline “Nice””

  1. Bring a nice wrap or sweater, because the AC is terribly erratic in most convention centers, and despite the outdoor heat your workshop room (and certainly the plenary hall) will be freezing. I always bring a pashmina shawl. (It’s the only fashionable thing about me, but I’m a IT geek, and a geek is only credible when badly dressed.)

    [Yes! Yes! Layers! – PB]

  2. I’ve been agonizing over shoes. My incredibly first world foot issues include:
    1. Need super, super support or my wimpy feet die from walking and standing all day.
    2. My toes need to be covered or they might drop off in the arctic AC.
    3. Special Aging Bonus: Shoes need to be adjustable, because being on my feet for any length of time in summer swells them up, and they threaten to bust out hulk-style. Not to mention the pinch and cramp factor.

    So I have found some kind of like this, only in all black:

    They don’t look quite frumpy (thick-soled) enough for me to be 100% sure they’ll hold up to the rigors of GA, but I’m going for it this year. [Let’s see how it goes! Privo doesn’t have much support, so please let us know. – PB]

  3. I solemnly promise that I will in fact show up to GA with hasn’t-been-cut-in-years witchy hair and tie dye. And some drippy flowing batik hippie garment. And Birkenstock sandals.

    But I might not wear all of them at the same time. A gal has to have her standards.

  4. How about capris? Yes? In a nice cool seersucker or linen with a blouse and nice flats? And at our UCC convention, we always get a tote bag, but I prefer to carry my own nice large shoulder bag, which I pack with natural aromatherapy wipes and all the other gear I need for a long business session.How much denominational swag can one tastefully wear? Thanks so much! [I hate capris for clergy professional outings, but they’re fine for conferences IF you don’t have scaly calves. Capris paired with sloppy cotton tops and sports sandals with fungus toenails make my soul wither and cry for God’s succor. So glad you asked about swag! I wear only the tags that are necessary and keep it all minimal. Dignity, man. – PB]

  5. Have you seen the new multi-colored UUA Logo Socks? I’m going to give them out next year as my Appreciation Sunday gifts!

    I can almost never figure out shoes for GA. For the past 18 years of GA’s I’ve attended, my feet almost always end up in blisters. (Except for last year – I splurged at Target and bought several different colored sandals, and lo and behold they were all GA-friendly!)

    I’m vegan, so there’s a limited scope of shoes I can buy. I like something with a bit of a heel. A lot of the vegan shoes are either super athletic or more like evening wear. Hopefully I’ll find the perfect shoe and get to show you in Portland! 🙂

    [Tera, I am seeing so many great non-leather shoe lines out there these days — I think Miz Moo is one of them. Why is it that GA hurts our feet so much? I can walk around all day in most of my shoes at home and not get blisters or have pain. I wonder if it’s the concrete floors, the standing around, not sure… – PB]

  6. Dear Rev. Gidget,
    Try Naot brand shoes. They have support. They are not cheap (around $175) but almost any price is worth it to be comfortable. If you live in MA try Simons shoes in Brookline. Simons has inventory so you can try before you buy.
    [Gidget lives very far from MA, but Zappos could be her friend. – PB]

  7. I have been elected to go to the Episcopal Church Convocation in Europe this autumn – it’s the first time I’ve ever been to an event like this so I’m a tad nervous. I’m a lay minister – sometimes preaching but that’s the extent of my “official” responsibilities at church – so I’m more often found in jeans & tops than anything else. However, dear PB, I will learn a lesson from you and I will find some black trousers to match my reasonably smart black jacket & herringbone jacket + some shell tops. Would that do for my first convocation, do you think?
    [Dear Alison, how wonderful! I do think that black trousers would work well. Make sure they’re smart and not frumpy (no pleats!). Send me some pics! – PB]

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