Ready To Be Seen

I always get so much spiritual energy when I spend some time in New York City. A big part of the rush of inspiration comes from the break I get from relentless American slovenliness. Whereas these days many people are either too invested in their own comfort or mistakenly believe that to be gazed upon is always a form of oppression, New Yorkers understand that life is an art form, and put thought and effort accordingly into their attire.

Clergy far too often appear as though they got caught in public as opposed to having prepared themselves to be there in a leadership role. Here are some people I saw this past Saturday around Union Square who were READY to be seen!

[As always, click on the image to enlarge]

This was the first woman who claimed my attention. I snapped her photo to show that it is perfectly possible to be comfortable on a hot day while looking like an elegant adult and not a summer camper:

That’s a designer frock, but it doesn’t have to be (and also, clergy shouldn’t wear sheer clothing with visible bras — it’s a fashion that’s not for us). The point is that Flowy Frock Lady and her companion have thoughtfully curated entire outfits with accessories, pedicures, careful hair styling and comfortable, flat, pretty shoes. FFL is wearing an easy but elegant chignon — also not hard to accomplish. These women belong in 2019. Too many clergypeople do not.

Another head-to-toe look. A simple, tailored shirt dress, fantastic sandals. She’s dressed like an adult, with a jaunty head scarf (a classic style) for a hot summer day.

Again: “I just want to be comfortable!” Well, be comfortable in clothing that isn’t a wrinkled, stained mess.! A large houndstooth patterned dress is just as comfortable as shorts and a polo shirt, and will identify to the community that you understand the difference between professional identity and vacation or working-in-the-garden mode:

Jumpsuits are HUGE right now. This woman walked into the cafe like a burst of sunshine. Cool, chic, fun, and beautiful.

I took this young woman’s pic to show how much just one accessory can communicate that a person is put together and ready to mix and mingle in society with a sense of herself. Just one barrette. That’s all it took to polish her look! So if that one barrette is $30 and you wear it 30 times over several years, you’re getting your money’s worth. It’s worth it to invest in gorgeous pieces.

Dress as though you are ready, willing and happy to be seen in community!! Throwing on random garments that simply cover your body is not enough.

Halo Of Praise: Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney Giving The Schooler Lecture

As you create and learn to own your image, think beyond the merely serviceable (suit, skirt and blazer with One Obligatory Accessory) to curating a closet of garments that you love and with which you actually feel a connection.
It will change something ineffable about your presence, and all for the good.

Click to enlarge image

Here is the Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School and author of Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction To The Woman Of The Torah and Of The Throne (Westminster) (among others), who does a lot of preaching, teaching and speaking gigs. I love following Wil’s looks because she loves and cares about clothes and invests in wonderful pieces through which I get a vicarious thrill.

Here is Dr. Wil giving the Schooler Lecture at Ohio at “Methesco” (Methodist Theological School in Ohio). I love the green against the natural wood– it all feels so organic and warm. Wil scored the green duster at a haute couture consignment shop and styled it as a wrap dress. It’s a substantial jersey fabric which gives it a rich, luxe feel and look. She paired it with a silk paisley scarf — and being paisely obsessed myself, I was thrilled to learn (from Wil) that paisley is an ancient representation of paradise in Muslim art. Now, we haven’t researched this so if you know more, please do tell.

Bold red lip in either Kat Von D or Sephora brand long-lasting lipcolor, and Wil also recommends Fenty lipstick for a nice red. And I’m sorry that you and I will never have hair this awesome but that’s life and God does not bestow hair blessings equally upon us all.

Peep the green onyx ring, too:

Striking.

These Totes Are Totes Appropriate For Ministry

MINISTERSES, there is absolutely no reason for you to be chugging along your day carrying a raggedy-ass tote bag. Save those stained, wrinkled, silly, juvenile (you know, farting unicorn decals or whatever) totes for the farmer’s market or the used book store. When you’re at work, have some dignity about your bag!

Here are two snappy revs I saw at General Assembly last year in Kansas City. The Rev. Dr. Kelly Murphy Mason and the Rev. Alison Miller, both of the metro NYC area, were rocking tailored, lovely totes and I asked if I could BTFM them and they said “sure!”

Please click on the images to enlarge.

Alison’s tote has a metallic interior, which is SNAZZ.

Really, nice totes are all over the place. Get one and use it and retire that beat-up ole thing with the faded tree goddess decal.

What To Wear To The Protest

It’s hot.
You need to walk, or to be outdoors, for hours.
You need also to be dignified and not look like a wacky hippie no one needs to take seriously.

WE LIVE IN A VISUAL AGE. Remember that.
No matter how stirring your rhetoric or how burning your passion for justice, this is about image.
As you well know, one image of a child weeping for his mother has been more powerful than a thousand editorials decrying the Trump regime’s cruel policies.

You are part of that story as it is being told and reported.
We will be out a lot this summer, I suspect.
Get an elegant sunhat.
Groom your hair, your skin, your clothing, your visible legs (if they are visible), your feet.
Being out of doors does not automatically grant any of us permission to look like we’re on a camping trip just because we’re exposed to the elements.

No whining.
Dr. King marched in a suit. No one is asking you to wear a suit.
No one is telling you to march in heels and cocktail dresses, although it has been done and you won’t die.
No one is asking that you wear petticoats and corsets, although that too has been done.

Be NEAT.
Do not throw together a bunch of floppy, patterned garments, put a stole over those and consider yourself ready to represent moral authority. Your stole does not miraculously bestow dignity upon the wearer: trim your beard, wash your hair, put it back or cover it neatly. Cotton pants are better than shorts for protecting your legs from the sun: consider white linen or cotton pants.
Bras need to fit. Yes, no one likes foundation garments in the summer but they’re mandatory for those who want to look professional.

It is true that fannypacks are back in fashion, sort of, so make that work for you. However, check that the belt around your waist isn’t hiking up your skirt or making a mess of your shirt or blouse. Stick to neutral colors.

Please consider the tone and gravitas of your selfies: are you there as a social event, to self-promote, or to keep the focus on the victims of injustice? I’m not saying you can’t have fun or be joyful, but it is jarring to compare the suffering of the vulnerable with the “WOOT WOOT LOOKIT ME/US” images splashed across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Virtue-signaling is a real thing and it’s not a good look on anyone. I personally don’t need to see the tonsils or up the nose of any self-congratulatory white liberals “WOOTING” into their cameras on social media today. Call me cranky. I want us to have an impact.

Stay hydrated.
Participate however you can – marching is just one way.

Whatever you do, don’t stop with today. We must continue to engage and to equip and mobilize ourselves and others for action.

Blessings.
And yes, I meant what I said about fannypacks (hat tip to Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg for confirming the terrible truth about the Return Of The Fannypack).

The Fine Line Between Warm Granny Librarian and Crazy Cat Lady

This collar makes me look like Ruth Bader Ginsberg (not a bad thing!) and the flowery readers PLUS the flowery sweater equals Crazy Lady:

I shall swap them out for a plain pair today:


Still purple so still a bit much, but I think it’ll do.

My center pair and pulled-back hair is VERY archetypal granny, which I do not want to convey, so there’s a bit of a kick-flip of hair in the back and I hope the silver hoops will also add a mitigating touch. Pearls would bring this look into “HI GRANNY CAN I HAVE SOME CANDY” territory. There’s nothing wrong with a granny-librarian ensemble but it should be a wink to the archetype, not a costume.