Slightly Structured Blazer

Darlings, how much does PeaceBang love you and think of you?
THIS MANY! AND ALL THE TIME!

On Christmas Eve eve, which is delightfully temperate and calm for my small household in eastern Massachusetts, thanks be to God, I wanted to let you know that Torrid is having a sale on one of my favorite wardrobe staples, their ruched sleeve jacket. Some are BOGO 50% off, and there are others and similar styles that are wicked marked down.

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This is a handy jacket for your wardrobe for many reasons:
It looks great with clericals.
It is a relaxed piece but not messy-relaxed.
It does not need to be ironed.
It is a step above a cardigan in terms of professional polish.

Here’s me wearing a similar garment (mine’s from Maurice’s) over a black cocktail dress for a cabaret I did. It was comfortable, I could move in it, and it kept its shape over my dress.
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These are knit, so they’re not appropriate for formal occasions but they’ll certainly do for most of what a minister has to do in our day-to-day lives.

As a new year’s resolution to stepping up your wardrobe game, try swapping out floppy garments like this,

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for pieces that fit. Long, unstructured pieces can look very chic on tall, slim women if they’re made in beautiful fabrics and hit the right place at the thigh, and if the fit in the shoulders and arms is right. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for any of us abundantly-bodied gals not to get swamped by such garments. It all just looks like our bosoms are exploding fabric, and all that knit catches on curves and lumps everything up. A more structured, tailored garment that shows your shape is always going to be sharper.

Now go bake cookies or practice your homily. What are you preaching tomorrow night?
I already did an intense exegesis on incarnation and compared Trump to Herod last weekend for Advent 4. Tomorrow night is for God’s All Stars, and I go easier on them. It won’t be lightweight, I promise you that. Not this year.

Blessings, my sugar plums.

Your Top And Your Bottom

Hi kids!

This is just a word about FIT, the plague of the modern person who mistakenly believes that just because a garment buttons around the waist, doesn’t fall off the shoulder, and reaches the right point on their leg or shoe, they’re pretty much done.

Fit is intricate! You wanna know why PeaceBang has like 10 black shirts? Because they all fit differently. Some are tunic length. Some are waist length. Some have higher, more formal necklines, some are scoop-necked. Some fit loose around the waist and others are fitted. They all have their purpose. There is no such thing as “a black shirt.” What kind of black shirt? What fabric? How does it fall? Did you know that some people get their T-shirts tailored for a perfect fit? Did you know that there’s sometimes very good reason to spend $50 on a black T-shirt? Fit is everything, I say!

So this, clergy persons: you are very likely not the same size on top as you are on the bottom. This means that when you buy that suit, you must stand in front of a three-way mirror and MOVE. Squat. Turn around and walk. Raise your arms. The jacket may fit perfectly but the tushie of the pants or skirt be far too tight. If the company won’t let you buy different sizes, I’m afraid you’re going to have to make sure the bottom fits and get the jacket altered. Or go for another style entirely. The pants may fit like a dream, but the jacket pinch or pull in the shoulders. Please find something you love that works for your life, see what the tailoring options are, and make the investment.

I was styling a seminarian once and we found the most darling suit for her presentation at a conference. The jacket was beautiful with a peplum waist, a shawl collar and great buttons. We were so into the jacket that we first didnt’ notice that the skirt was pulling across her thighs and creasing. Sitting down, the problem would have been worse. Because the suit was sold as separates, it was easy enough to go up a size in the skirt and keep the jacket. This is much less common in menswear, but do try to look at separates to expand your fit options.

There are a lot of truly ill-fitting suits out there in Ministry Land. Please, please understand that a badly fitted suit can make you look sad and even foolish if it’s bad enough. Make sure the shoulder seams are where they need to be. Make sure the sleeves hit where they should hit, and don’t droop over your fingers or cut you off at the wrist. Make sure the pants hems don’t pool around your ankles. Know what you’re working toward: a slim-cut look, classic tailored business look, boxy on top and slim on the bottom, know your silhouettes.

Cuffed and Rolled Sleeves (No) And Pants (Yes)

Oh, gads, the 1980’s cuffed/rolled sleeve thing is back, and WHO NEEDS IT?
Not you.
There is nothing professional or flattering about looking like you thrifted a jacket and couldn’t be bothered to have the sleeves tailored. That was cute when you were 19 and had asymmetrical, permed hair. It’s just sloppy on a grown woman.

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Rolled pants hems are the same deal. If you MUST, only if you’re tall and slim enough. I’m sorry, but some things must be said outright. I simply can’t have you paying for clothing that does not make you shine like the gem that you are.

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A few words on styling:

A structured flat shoe is fine. There are oodles of them out there. You want the cuffed pant to fit close to the leg and hit at your ankle bone.

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All of these photos were taken at T.J. Maxx. I am that weirdo wandering around snapping photos on my phone.

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Don’t judge me for my sandals. Something bit my foot and my left foot has been swollen and itchy.

Oxfords are very cute but NO SOCKS if you’re wearing a cuffed, slim-cut trouser. Trust me on this. You want that bare ankle or the stylishness of the cuff is utterly demolished.

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These are 100% not okay, ever, at all in a professional setting. Save them for grocery shopping on your day off.

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In case you were wondering what’s never okay in the jeans department, here’s a reminder:
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With your tailored, cuffed pants (NOT your floppy, rolled jeans – there’s a big difference!), you might choose a classic, also tailored, long open cardigan. Avoid all the current fussy design elements like big fabric wings in front, mullet hems, lace inserts and anything else that makes the garment look cheap and over-busy. Something like this is perfectly fine.
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If you’re wearing clericals, I would choose a waist-length outer layer. The enclosed neck of clericals plus the long hem of the sweater is too much swathing.

This, now, is only acceptable if you’re doing ministry in a ski lodge and your pastoral function is fetching cups of steaming hot chocolate to people who will nod their thanks and go on ignoring you as they chat about their stocks and bonds and worldly power, which you are announcing you understand nothing about by the wearing of this cardigan.

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SHAN’T.

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She is totes going to make a bunch of hospital visits and then go home and work on her sermon.

Let’s Talk Tops

There are all sorts of interesting styles for tops these days, so if you’re not in clericals there’s no reason for clergy to stick to basic blouses or crew neck tops. Unfortunately, men’s options are still extremely limited but the laydeez have choices and PeaceBang is here to help you make some good ones.

Perhaps you have been trying to freshen up your look but have been turned off and overwhelmed by the over-designed tops out there. Here are some specimens, and how to determine if something is over-designed:

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Peplums and cut-aways and drop shoulders and super shiny details drawing all eyes to your gut! Who needs it? We don’t!

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Belts and waist ties can be a beautiful detail on a top, but not huge bows planted on the front of our bellies like a four year old’s party dress. The kimono-style top is a lot more elegant than the big girly bow on the front of the gal in the skirt, but most ordinary mortals would get lost in all those bell sleeves, white and sash.

Here’s a chambray shirt with a built-in sash that is cut more to proportion. When you’re looking at interesting tops, consider proportion (are the elements huge and overwhelming? Too small and cutesy?), elements (one interesting design element is great, two are sometimes okay, three or more are visual overload) and pattern (I recommend solids or color block):

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This is color blocking. It’s VERY in right now and quite chic. Solids make you look – solid!

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OH MY GAH she’s wearing black and blue! And red! Yes, Virginia, navy and black work just fine together.

Both of these blouses below would be far too much in a print. Staying in a solid fabric allows the eye to see the design elements, which appear interesting rather than busy. The lavender blouse could be a bit too prim but notice that there’s a wee bit of skin showing at the neck. These details make a big difference. Notice that the bell-sleeved sweater is cut hits at the hip with no shaping at the waist. That’s an important proportion detail: like, I love this top but I’m too lumpy around the waist and hips for it to hang well on me. It’s a great color, the sleeves are all the design it needs, and you’d ruin the line with a belt, so this is a better choice for a different body type than mine.

Now, lissenup! Do not pair these tops with your old chinos or jeans! These garments have intentional design; they are not merely utilitarian. Wearing them with just any old thing as pants or skirts completely undoes their appropriateness as professional wear.
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That’s it for now! I am working on a BOOK for y’all (I have to remind myself or I won’t keep at it!)

All these tops are from Eloquii.com, whence PeaceBang gets a lot of her favorite clothing and they’re having a great sale right now. And no, they don’t give me money or coupons or anything to promote them. They don’t know I exist, in fact.

Garments That Serve You

You know that old adage, “Don’t get it unless you LOVE it?” And now there’s that Japanese clutter guru who tells you to break up gently with things that don’t bring you joy, and get rid of them?

Well, PeaceBang is here to stand up for some of those items in your closet that don’t necessarily bring you tons of joy, but that you really come to appreciate for their loyalty and service. They’re not the most flattering garments, but they’re A-OKAY (said with pastoral enthusiasm voice).

Like, I am considering getting one of those kimono type deals, as they’re very fashioning right now and I noticed last summer that they look great on young, slim gals over shorts and camisole Tshirts. I am no slim young gal but I was like, “Hmmm, those new kimonos are cool and breezy and slightly boho and best of all they cover the upper arms!” Which is my great goal in life: to not inflict my upper arms on anyone who isn’t on the beach.

In one of God’s crueler genetic acts, the only cellulite I have on my entire body is on my upper arms.

So I saw this for sale for $17 and I thought, Hmmmm. That sleeve is going to be very unflattering on me.

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But then I thought, “Weinstein, you’re being very picky. How many times this summer will you need to go into the office to meet with someone and it will be hot and humid, and you will reach for that kimono and be so glad you have it? $17 worth? Enough to tolerate the bad sleeve length?”

Then I thought about all the ways I could wear this. With a perfectly matching blue pencil skirt that I wore all the time last summer. With black pants. With the black pencil skirts I wear every summer all the time. With Tshirt jersey black sundress.

With my fun blue Fluevogs:

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With these blue sandals:

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With a top bun and big dangly earrings.

Doing a quick review of how I would style this garment, I found that it made me very happy.

The moral of the story is, you don’t actually have to love every garment you own. But you should love and feel fantastic about the ways it can go to work for you.