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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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


In case you were wondering what’s never okay in the jeans department, here’s a reminder:

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.

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.



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

Jeans For the Meatball-Shaped Gal

Pigeons, I know that finding pants that fit is impossible for MANY of us, and you may join me in a collective groan of frustration now. Ready? All together now…


That feels better, doesn’t it. There, there.

Finding The Best Jeans To Fit Your Body is a perennial headline in the fashion mags, which should make it clear to all of us that from Oprah to Elle, finding a pair of pants that fit and flatter our interesting and unique female bodies is an achievement somewhat akin to finding the Holy Grail. Like, if there were chick knights in the Middle Ages they would have found the Grail really fast and then gone jean shopping with the rest of their time on the road, because they knew even back then that this is a holy quest. If Don Quixote had been Doña Quixote, she would have dreamed the impossible dream about finding pants that fit and looked cute in the butt AND legs (it’s an impossible dream and Cervantes knew it).

We all have our figure ish-oos. Mine is that I have about 70 lbs of butter molded around my midsection in an interesting formation that my friend Ruthie calls “snowman.” It’s really a triple-tiered snowman (or snowwoman, if we’re getting precise) with bosom on top of tummy on top of large lower-abdominal tire. By the time a pair of pants fits around my “waist” (and I use that term with an ironic wink), there’s a tremendous amount by way of fabric swishing around my thighs, which are of normal plumposity factor.

This makes me look and feel like a clown. Like a clown in diapers, in fact. There is no heel high enough and no bra aerodynamic enough to off-set the extra width that regular cut pants add to my silhouette. When I find a pair of trousers that are cut wide enough in the gut and slim enough in the thighs not to utterly engulf me, I weep in the fitting room, praise all the gods I can think of, and buy at least two pairs (because it’s a very RARE occurrence).

And so it is with some hesitation that I recommend to you Pure Energy Stretch Denim pants from Target.

These are nothing to get SUPER excited about, as they’re decidedly casual. They’re fine for a day at the office, worn with a nice blouse or blazer or cardie with a fun necklace and flats or boots. They’re billed as “skinny jeans” (oh GADS, the dreaded skinny jeans trend is still with us! For ladies AND gents, more’s the pity) but what they do best is STRETCH. They’re junior sizes, so you need to get a size up from your usual (or even two sizes) and then expect them to stretch a lot throughout the day. The end result is a normal, button-and-zip pair of pants for a meatball-shaped gal, because the thighs and legs are cut slim enough to look nice and neat and still fit around your butt and stomach.

I have gotten way past the weight where I can publicly wear nice, stretchy black yoga pants on casual days (and all of mine are so threadbare from thousands of washings that they’re barely even gym presentable), so it’s a real break when I find cotton pants that have a decent fit factor. When I exercise and tone up, the first thing to lose weight is my legs and thighs, which just exacerbate my challenging shape situation.

They come in purple, dark teal green, and black and are $29.00 per pair.

Don’t Get All Intellectual About It, For God’s Sake

Alert pigeon Kristen sent me a link to this very interesting blog post by Richard Beck of Experimental Theology, who gives us a philosophical take on jeans.

It’s great to think deeply on these matters, but at the end of the day I’m still going to send you to your bedroom without supper if you think plain old jeans and a button-down are acceptable for your work in ministry.

As I commented on the blog, there is also the matter of aesthetics. Beautiful is as beautiful does. That’s what Ma Ingalls used to say, right? That’s why Laura and Mary were supposed to keep their sunbonnets on at all times so they wouldn’t get as brown as a berry. We don’t have time to get into Ma Ingalls’ racism right now, but the point is, don’t wear jeans to work. Also, in case you haven’t realized it already, “Beautiful is as beautiful does” makes absolutely zero sense, and I’m pretty sure Ma Ingalls never said that. What she said was “There’s no great loss without some small gain.” She said that when Pa shot up some of the crows that were eating the corn harvest and she made a crow pie. Do you realize how many times that woman seriously almost starved to death?

I obviously need another coffee and a walk to clear my mind. Lenten reflections + blogging + reminiscing about Ma Ingalls + jeans = monkey mind.

Seminarian Internship Interview

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?

DEAR Newbie,
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

Stoles And Denim


in the name of all that is holy! What an awful, awful look! It doesn’t say “folksy and approachable.” It says Clueless and Awkward.