Aw, Looky Here, Ma! We done heard from a seminarian! Hello, seminemineminarian!
Having long since digested the ministerial intern rant and shared it with numerous other seminarians, I’ve come to a different issue of style for which I would appreciate some advice. As you know too well our [ liberal religious community] is a strange mix of men who wear suits to church every Sunday and those who show up in shorts and flip flops. I am seeking out an internship for the coming year and have been invited to interview later this month with one of our larger congregations. The interview will be conducted in person, starting with a potluck one evening, moving into a more formal interview the following day, and attendance at worship on Sunday. I know well enough to go to an interview in a suit, but what to do when the interview is over a multi-day, multi-context situation? A suit seems too much for a potluck, but as a younger 30-something I also want to convey that I understand the role I’m “auditioning” for, and that ministry calls for different dress for different occasions. And one last question- I’ve been considering growing my hair out after having kept it short for the last few years. It’s curly at length, and is, at the moment, not long enough to pull back, but starting to show the beginning of the curls. Can I be a male minister in our association and have long hair while looking professional, and if so, what’s the protocol for the in-between stage?
So good to hear from you.
Let’s take your questions in opposite order of where they appear in your letter. First, hair.
Curly hair on men is so often a mess when it’s longer. It’s very difficult to cut well, and often appears just furry and lop-sided and even icky at in-between stages of growth. This isn’t to say that you need to chop the hell out of it (stop looking at me like that, Samson). It just means that you need to find a good stylist, not just your typical $5 barber, and get it cut well. Sit in the chair with the stylist and discuss how you want it to look before he or she gets out the shears. Curly hair is tricky but worth the effort. I would not advise you to grow it out. It’s almost certain not to look as good as it can look at a shorter length.
There is a certain religion professor associated with liberal religion at one of our more liberal seminaries who has long curly hair, and I frankly think he should CUT IT OFF. So if he, or his students, are reading this, PEACEBANG TOTALLY THINKS YOU SHOULD CUT YOUR HAIR. “Hippie chic” is an oxymoron. It looks dated and unkempt.
Second question, Newbie. That’s complicated since I don’t know what you look like. However, I think you’re going to have to pack a few options for this trip. I don’t think you need a complete suit for the actual internship interview. I worry, quite frankly, that you’ll look like a used car salesman. Go with a sports jacket and tie. We’re not in the corporate world and you want to be confident and somewhat comfortable. Think of the setting. You’re likely to be interviewing in a church parlor with a bunch of fairly casual lay people and a coffee pot on the table and paper cups all over the place (wait, they’re the liberal church — scratch the paper cups, they’ll be SUSTAINABLE cups). You’re not in a board room, you’re not in a formal setting with thick carpets and oil paintings. Tie and jacket. Make sure everything is impeccable, that it all fits and is ironed, etc. Shine your shoes. Trim your nails. Shave.
Speaking of shaving, PeaceBang HIGHLY DISAPPROVES of scant beards on preachers. If you can’t grow a full face of beard or goatee, CLEAN SHAVE THE FACE, for God’s sake. The patchy beard looks like a dirty face from a distance. ICK.
For the more casual potlucky portion of your time with the committee, guess what? I would still wear a sports jacket. That’s just me. Because I happen to think that a comfortable sports jacket is a nice way for a man to look relaxed and put together at the same time, and I am sorry that your generation mistakenly believes that jackets are just for dress-up time. They really aren’t. I would wear nice dark jeans, a tweedy sports jacket, a button-down shirt open one button at the neck (T-shirt, please, no chest hairs showing), and a pair of sexy shoes like these,
You don’t want to wear sporty shoes at any point in the interview process. Shoes are where so many people go so wrong. So stay away from this sort of thing,
Because honestly, Newbie, even if you just wear a sweater, tie and chinos to an interview (another look I might recommend for the potluck), it’s all about sealing the deal with the right shoes. The shoes bring it up a notch. If they’re sharp and shined up and a snappy, you really elevate your outfit. DETAILS, darling! DETAILS! Grooming! Accessories! A nice watch, a fresh shave and haircut.
What you don’t want to do is pair a suit jacket with a pair of jeans, like super hunk Daniel Craig has done here. He’s James Bond, so he can do whatever he wants, but the formality and cut of a suit coat have no place with a regular Joe pair of pants. It’s very Euro but so wrong for American Church, and the fabrics are entirely incompatible:
But blazingly hot, no? Rrrrowl.
A sports jacket is meant for less formal occasions. Note:
Lookin’ good in the neighborhood.
Save your suit for Sunday morning, when you should look sharp as a TACK, baby. Pack it carefully in a garment bag and carry it on the plane. Yes, you need a suit for Sunday morning. Borrow one if you have to but for the love of God make sure it FITS YOU. No hems pooling around your ankles. No sock showing when you walk. No straining seams, or jackets you can’t button or yards of extra fabric or huge pouches of material around your thighs. Make sure about an inch of shirt cuff can be seen beyond the cuff of your coat. Bring a hair removal roller.
Remember to all of you: structured garments communicate respect. Whenever you interview, you should be planning your outfit around structured garments unless you’re intentionally working the Flowing Garb Warm Pastoral Therapist look, in which case you should be all warmth and cuddly fabrics and unstructured clothes. Like maybe a PONCHO.
Wouldn’t Poncho be the cutest name for a cat? “Poncho! C’mere, Poncho!!”
Anyway, Newbie, so glad to hear from you. Best of luck with the interview and do drop a line to tell us how it went. Kiss of peace, PB