Oh wow, I just re-discovered this article sent to me by most astute pigeon, Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, from June of 2016. Fashion writer Robin Givhan analyzes the new classic by designer Nina McLemore which is being seen all over Washington, DC.
What interests me is not only the design details of the jacket (classic but tailored in a way to intentionally communicate power: standing collar, long, bold line) but how clergy can look to women in the political realm to consider our own ideas of public image. As spiritual and creative leaders we have a lot more leeway than someone in elected office does to individualize our attire, but we should ask ourselves before we leave the house, “would I dress this way to make a statement to America about an important moral issue?”
If not, then you’re not ready to make a statement to your congregation about an important moral issue.
If someone running for office or in public office wouldn’t wear what you’re wearing in order to address her constituents, why are we any different? Are you a friend stopping by for lunch? Are you family – perhaps comfy grandma? Are you a camp counselor? Do you not seek to represent a divine grace, beauty and power that is beyond yet within us all, and within us collectively? Do you not seek to influence? If not, why not?
We need to know who we are trying to be, called to me, and needed to be. Sometimes, yes, we’re a warm sister or grandmother comforter. Sometimes we are a gardener. Sometimes we are a kindergarten teacher. But often we are an important leader but show up dressed to be a camp counselor. There is such terrible and unnecessary dissonance when that happens. It will not be spoken but it will be there and it will have consequences.
Know who you are. Dress to lead.
Janet Yellen in a McLemore jacket
Hello honey heads, how have you been?
There you are at the thing: the meeting, the service, the protest, the potluck. You have washed up and shined up and showed up. You are engaged. You are grateful and gracious.
You have put together an outfit that you feel respects the occasion. You have ironed your shirt. You have chosen outerwear that reflects your leadership role and is a a few steps above a squall parka. You have brushed the dandruff and animal fur off of your shoulders.
When you did your head-to-toe prayerful preparation for where you needed to be, did you get all the way down to your feet?
I have almost forgotten to review my feet a few times recently and came close to attending an important occasions with mud on my boot heels. I really would have been mortified if someone had noticed the dirt, and I know someone would have. That is not okay. Even in this cursed generation of leggings worn as pants, dirty shoes at solemn occasions is not acceptable unto the Lord.
Microfiber cloths are a fantastic way to clean up your shoes and boots. I have a stack of white ones in my bathroom for make-up removal (they’re miraculous at getting rid of everything, even mascara, with just warm water!) and they work great with a little water or micellar water on dirty or dusty shoes. The micellar water is also a gentle make-up remover but works as a nice face freshener (I like to wipe it under my eyes after a nap or long day) or on any leather products.
Now, if you’re wearing lug soles, please do not come into any building tracking dirt. If muddy hiking boots are your usual workaday wear because you’re doing ministry in a rural environment (and if you’re not, you have no excuse for wearing muddy hiking boots!), take them off in church and have shoes to change into. That also goes for social events in people’s homes, restaurants, community centers, houses of worship and Knights of Columbus halls. Unless you’re doing a part-time ministry with a side gig as a lumberjack, don’t wear muddy hiking boots while pastoring. You ain’t that rugged.
Annie Spratt from Unsplash
Oh, pardon me a thousand times. I guess unstructured sweaters are now called OVERPIECES.
Lane Bryant getting all fancy.
They’re still not very FLATTERING, Lane Bryant. But okay, OVERPIECE it is.
Darlings, the latest in footwear fads is the slide.
I hate them.
Slides are for the pool. Fancying them up with silk and bows does not make them appropriate footwear for anyone who wants to project an aura of competency and basic intelligence. Does this sound judgmental? That’s because PeaceBang is JUDGING.
Slides are a way of communicating to the world, “I don’t really need to get anywhere, I am just shuffling around in upscale bedroom slippers. I am so officially over it, I can’t even be bothered to wear an actual shoe.”
Slides are fine for poolside, for the gym, or for events in your own home for which you have “help.” Nothing says Bored Heiress like slides.
Not PeaceBang approved for clergy.
Some of us wear the dog collar on the daily, some of us don’t. For those who don’t but who want to evoke the sense of a collar (with the associated historical resonance, evocation of religious authority), the mock-neck is a great option.
I have been looking for a decent mockneck (nice fabric, tunic length, sleeveless) for ages and found one yesterday on WAY sale at JJill and ordered one in black:
It’s a rayon woven fabric so has a more of a formal drape than a cotton blend, which is important. FAWTY PERSENT OFF, KIDS!
Also a perfect neckline if you want to wear a religious symbol (flaming chalice pendant, for example).
A lovely person just bequeathed unto me an amazing hamsa necklace from Morocco. It’s about 6″ long and this neckline will be a wonderful backdrop for it.
Men can do the same thing: a mockneck is less sporty than a turtleneck and is a nice, tailored option for a sports jacket if you don’t want to wear a tie.
Darker colors are always more elegant. Fabric blends are important, too — look for something with some richness to it and dry clean rather than throw in the wash.