Owning The Dandified Details: A PeaceBang Halo Of Praise

I met this stunning gent, Quardricos Bernard Driskell, at a recent swanky event at Harvard Divinity School, the Peter J. Gomes Memorial Honors. His total commitment to detail and old-school elegance was absolutely perfect in the setting, and we chatted a bit during the reception.

Now, that is a LOOK. That is a lot of accessorizing: pocket square, bow tie, cuff links, belt buckle, floral pin. You have to be SHARP AS HELL to pull this off, my people. Quardricos is turned out from head to toe and owning this rather than being overwhelmed by all the dandified details. And that’s important, so listen up: this outfit could turn into a hipster kind of ironic costume if the fit was a little off, or his edges were a little less perfect, or he had an ironic, scraggly beard, or if the bow tie was a little bit of a wilder print.

Please take a moment to fully appreciate the eye for pattern and color and proportion here. This man rocketh mightily. I must confess that, although we talked about ministry and the church and he gave me two of his business cards, I don’t remember if Quardricos is ordained (I think so) or where he is serving in a ministerial capacity. Quardricos, please comment and enlighten us!

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Shirt Sleeves

Dear wearer of men’s dress shirts,

And that should be ALL of you gentlemen out there…

Please attend to the fit of your shirts. Here, I found you this helpful infographic.

Yes, it is definitely a step up from a Henley or (shudder) a Tshirt to don an actual, grown-up button-down shirt. ‘Grats on that.

However, as in all things sharp and polished, FIT matters. I know that you know enough to iron the thing, and if you don’t, FIE ON THEE! Really, there is no reason for you to not own and regularly operate the humble domestic appliance known as the iron. Take the time. Iron it properly. If you don’t know how, have your dad or your grandma or the friendly local dry cleaner show you.

What really gets PeaceBang is that, not that long ago sartorially speaking, it was considered going about somewhat undressed to be seen only in one’s “shirtsleeves;” that is, without your waistcoat (vest) and jacket over that. Men used to ASK PERMISSION to remove their coats in respectful company. So let us not hear any whining about how hot or uncomfortable it is to wear a sports jacket or blazer.

But let’s get back to the FIT of the thing — that thing being a dress shirt. It saddens PeaceBang no end when she sees men in a dress shirt and tie, or just a dress shirt, trying to look a step up for work or an event and looking like a rumpled mess because they did not pay attention to the details of fit.

The collar is so loose you could fit a whole ‘nuther neck in there. Or it’s so tight it’s squeezing the neck up into a second or third chin.

The shoulder seams are way down on the top of the bicep, floppy and sloppy.

The buttons are too tight and the gaping holes between them reveal either a bit of white undershirt or (and this is truly the worst) a big glimpse of hairy stomach.

YES, I SAID HAIRY STOMACH!! Get me my smelling salts!

Please do study the handy picto-tutorial link I have so helpfully provided, darlings. Start shopping for the right size shirt, have the helpful sales clerk aid you in determining the correct size and do not fret if it has gone up or down (size is not a determiner of your moral status, guys. We must all dress for the size we are now, today, not the size we think we might be after six weeks at Planet Fitness). Since none of us are likely to be able to afford custom made shirts, get to a local tailor to have the sleeves shortened. Cuffs that sag over the hand or need to be rolled to the appropriate length are not cuffs that fit.

Do not render the whole point of a “dress” shirt moot by wearing versions that don’t fit well.

Oh, and speaking of rolling cuffs: I don’t know who you were, minister last week I saw wearing ROLLED CUFF JEANS with dirty Topsiders with a stole over your sloppy outfit at a protest. Would it have killed you to actually wear a pair of pants that fit? Even if they had to be jeans?

NYC, Textured Textiles And Charcoal So Chic

I hopped down to NYC for a quick soul stop last week. Over the summer I did a thorough review of the previous program year and realized that I had taken very few days off, although I had faithfully taken every day of vacation and study leave granted by my letter of agreement, so yay for me!
What I realized is that if I don’t actually get out of the house and even out of town, I do not get my head out of the game for an entire 24 hours or even really close to it. And as you know, kids, we have to get our heads out of the game on a regular basis so that our hearts and souls can be IN the game, in the work.

So I determined that I would take two days off in a row at least once every few months and go away.

I saw the opera “Lulu” at the Met, which was amazing, shattering, disturbing, brilliant and unforgettable.

I walked around and people watched. I enjoyed the parade of humanity outfitted in every which way.
And I found this window display that illustrates why texture is such a wonderful and woefully under-utilized aspect of personal style.

Charcoal grey is eminently chic and so elegant and easy to work with. You don’t have to go head-to-toe like this display of course. Think charcoal and amethyst purple. Think charcoal and a touch of fuschia. Think charcoal and creamy ivory. All winter and holiday appropriate combos that are so much more handsome and mature than the usual garish reds and greens.

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God forbid you should yank your sweater up over your belly and stand like a little penguin, but what a nice and attainable combo. The trousers are so rich looking. And remember, they should hit the tops of your shoes. Of course, I am likely to sigh with joy over any fabric draped over the leg that isn’t a skimpy, cheap-looking, ugly legging. My hatred for them only grows.


A close-up on the coat and scarf, and I hope you got a gander of that ruana on the third mannequin. Again, a very easy to adapt look on a budget:


Charcoal also looks fabulous with pearls, ladylike pastors. So much more intersting than blasic black, too.

My friend Lily came to visit last night dressed in a wonderful, nubby wool sweater and other neutrals in gorgeous, interesting textures. She communicated warmth itself and looked like a Bohemian wisdom goddess/queen from actual Bohemia. You just cannot fake beautiful textiles, folks. Texture is life. It suggests handiwork, craft, tradition, cultural pride, care, and durability, plus it’s stunningly beautiful.
Collect as many good pieces as you can. Wear them forever and ever – they don’t go out of style.

The garments in this window are well-lit and overpriced, I’m sure. Keep an eye out. They’re nothing terribly special in the textile department but remember that rich, neutral colors will make any fabric look higher quality than it may actually be.

Abandoning Preaching Gowns: “Unweirding” Church

Hello, hello, hello!

Pigeons, how are you? It’s been awhile. PeaceBang has been in the Land of Summer, reading her little head off, thinking (or as she likes to say it, “THANKING”), swimming in the great Atlantic ocean and spending tons and tons of time with friends. That last thing is the best, isn’t it? When the church year gets really hopping I just don’t see my buds enough, and when it freezes and starts blizzarding I don’t see them at ALL! I love this time of year for long, relaxed dinners, nights at the movies or the theatre, concocting something fun in the blender and digging toes in the sand.

But ’tis indeed mid-August and ones thoughts turn to the fall and that wonderful back to school feeling. I have been thinking a lot about how weird and intimidating church feels to many unchurched folks and really auditing how and where in our congregational life we can be more accessible, easy, non-mysterious and welcoming. In this era where so many people seek spiritual community to strengthen and equip them to cope with the nihilistic ravages of our modern world, the last thing I want to do is seem like some arcane figure all Dumbledore’d out in my long robes and pointy hat with stars on it. And a wand. Don’t forget the magic wand!

But you know what I mean. I mean, that’s what vestments really feel like to a lot of people, I think, and I want to explore the possibilities of leading worship in street clothes with a stole. Or maybe no stole. I am not sure. As I said, I want to try some different things and see how it feels for me and for my worshiping congregation. I’ll ask them for feedback. Maybe I’ll miss wearing a robe – the specialness of it and the convenience — but maybe my wearing a suit or some other outfit will help newcomers (both online and in person) see me as a more accessible person.

I have thought about this a lot, of course, and have determined a few things:

1. I want to wear solid colored suits, but not traditional business suit cuts. Therefore, I need to find suits that have a slightly more creative cut to them. Separates will not do: I need the color and fabric of top and bottom to match exactly.

2. I want to have one black suit and one blue or green version, and possibly one ivory. I will have a Sunday uniform, then, which will not be any different than men who wear the same sports jacket and trousers or suits every Sunday. It’s just that, as a woman, and as a creative woman, I will be less able to have fun wearing a variety of outfits. This might be a great relief!

3. Skirts or pants? I will try both. A woman of my short, round stature (or lack thereof) tends to look better in elongating skirts, but I will check options and see how I feel about them. Skirt lengths will always be well below the knee for worship presiding, while my skirts are knee-length for regular ministry work. Longer is less flattering but more appropriate for Sundays. I don’t want to have to worry too much about my skirt hiking up when I sit down.

I found some garments on Jessica London catalogue that interest me.

This peplum jacket is 28″ long, which is the perfect length for me. That matters a LOT, as many jackets hit me too low or are too cropped. 28″ is my magic length. The color is decent and would look nice in our sanctuary, I think. Sorry the photo is so tiny. I would get this with a skirt, as teal pants and top would make me look like a big lollipop who’s running for public office.

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If I got the suit in black I might do pants instead of a skirt. Where to put the mic pac is a real question:

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This belted blazer really excited me, although I wouldn’t do purple. I would get black or charcoal with a matching bi-stretch skirt. Again, this is 28″ and I can clip my mic pac on the belt. I LOVE belted blazers. They’re so much more feminine and flattering to me than traditional 3-button styles.

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These skirts (this is the knee-length but they have a calf-length as well) look serviceable and easy to tailor.

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So, talk to me. Are any of you switching up your pulpit attire? Why? What’s your vision? What are you hoping for? How much are you willing to spend to try the new look? Remember, darlings, always budget for tailoring! Nothing is too detailed when it comes to outfitting yourself for worship. Nothing. Stand up in the garment. Sit in it. Bend over in it. Reach up. Does it fit the waist, the sleeves, the legs? If it’s a blazer, can you see a half inch of shirt cuff peaking past the sleeve? You should be able to; what do you think cufflinks are for? Can the garment stand candle wax? Multiple launderings or cleanings? Is it lined? Does it fall nicely? Have you seen yourself from the rear in it?

Wherever you are in your ministry, darlings, PeaceBang wishes you well with a big kiss of peace.

Unconstructed Jackets

Hey, hombres,

I notice that a lot of you have trouble finding a professional look that’s comfortably located between formally dressed in a suit and dressed in a polo and jeans. You need to step up your non-suit professional game. Yes, you can go around trying to bring about the Kingdom of God in a fleece, but sometimes showing up for love, justice, resurrection and community needs more oomph and more visual effort. I personally don’t understand why leaders attend gatherings that aim to change the world in clothes that broadcast their identity as Comfy Pal. “I will go right from these halls of transformational change directly to the tables of Panera where I will settle in with a Hibiscus iced tea and continue to not threaten the status quo at all!”

“Don’t be scared of me and the power I represent! We’re not going to make any real demands, just suggest that folks be nice and share.”

One option that I recommend you investigate is the unconstructed blazer – also known as a deconstructed jacket and other similar terms. These are great garments that look sharp but move a lot more easily on the body than the usual padded business suit jacket, because they’re not padded or fully lined. ‘Cause I’m not saying that you need to barrel around everywhere in a suit. I’m saying bring it up from Comfy Pal.

Let’s take a look, fellas! Some of these I found on eBay, even! There’s no need to pay $228 from J. Crew.

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The way these jackets are styled look pretty dressed up, right? That’s fine. You don’t have to wear them that way. You can wear them open over with good jeans and a shirt and tie. You can wear them with a nice Tshirt underneath and a pair of nice cotton chinos (Note adjectives good and nice here — which means clean, crisp, not worn-out, not wrinkly, no stains, and good fabric).

You know how I can identify the clergy in the room? They’re the ones dressed in dowdy or sloppy clothes looking like deep down, they don’t expect that anything will ever change. You know who looks sharp as hell? The people who have a plan and some ambition to get it done. Let’s be those people. Do you look like someone God is working through, or do you look like someone who has given up and is hoping God will rescue them?