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.

War On Blazers

I declare war on blazers!
The other day I had to dress up for a spiffy event at Harvard and every time I tried on a blazer, my soul died.
They were boxy and made me look even wider and square-shaped than I am.
They buttoned over the plumpest part of my bosom.
They were stiff rather than structured.
They drew attention to the chunkiness of my upper arms.
I hated them.
I threw them all back on their hangers and said, “I hope I never have to wear any of you EVER AGAIN!”

I am sure I will press my blazer suits into service again, especially for weddings and other formal occasions. They are in excellent condition and fit me as well as they’re ever going to.

I just hate them. They not “me” at all anymore and I’m going to look for new styles of suits or jackets for formal occasions. There MUST be better options.

What do you hate that used to be a staple of your wardrobe, kiddies?

Plus Size On A Budget

Hi, dear people!
Teresa contributes this comment, lamenting the high price point of many of my recommendations:

Hmm. The Fluevogs are pretty amazing–artsy and whimsical, some look comfortable–but some look downright ugly, too. Most of the shoes you posted here look pretty good to me. I wish there WERE shoes my feet can tolerate that were not quite so clunky/funky/casual. But they are what I’ve got to work with. And they are the unchangeable part of my wardrobe–expensive (for me, $70-150 shoes are reasonable ONLY because I MUST have shoes that do not hurt my feet!), found at the end of a long search for comfortable shoes of ANY kind, and they bring peace to my wrecked feet. So I have to find clothing that works with them–that is professional enough looking but also a bit casual/”artistic.” And in plus size. That’s a tall order. I came to this site looking for ideas. Instead I found insults on my most essential staples. Lutherans don’t get paid enough to dress the way you portray here. Unless they have rich spouses. My hopes for inspiration are dashed.

TERESA, my CUPCAKE! DO NOT BE DASHED!
Now, it’s true that Fluevogs are insanely expensive and beyond most clergy budgets, and I totally take responsibility for causing shoe lust for such a pricely item. Fluevogs are a special obsession of mine and I never could have afforded them in the early days of my ministry when I was not compensated well and fairly as I am now.

It is also true that affordable, comfortable and fashionable shoes are WICKED hard to find, although not impossible.

I am amazed by how many clergywomen complain of bad feet, though. I am among them, but I couldn’t help but notice at a social justice training this past week that a major number of the Latina and African American women were wearing sexy heels or sparkly flats. Simply put, they had it going on in the footwear department, and I have to conclude that this is a cultural issue and not just a comfort issue. More on that later.

But Teresa! I want to assure you that, while I am no fashion plate, I do manage to avoid the most dreaded frump traps of the Fat Lady Wardrobe at a very reasonable price point. Let me share some of my sources. Please click on the photos to enlarge the image (to being way too big. Sorry).

Macy’s ! I buy a lot of my clothes on sale from Macy’s, which carries a fairly decent variety of plus-size basics. My sweater is by Charter Club ($35) and the tank probably $15 on sale somewhere. The skirt is Eloquii.com sale. $35. They have interesting choices — lots of weird stuff that make me go “HUH,” but some neat garments in the “artsy” category, and a very good return policy. Also try Modcloth and EShakti. I like Modcloth a LOT but do not order from eShakti because they take a long time to deliver and have some hidden return fees. Other readers ADORE them, though, so check them out.

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I almost never shop in stores but check in frequently with sales on websites. Macy’s white top on sale (in store). Kimono-style jacket from Zulily.com, for less than $20. Be aware that you can’t return Zulily items. Skirt on sale from Lane Bryant, $25.

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FloralKiyonna skirt on sale for $35. Kiyonna has very well-made garments but they cut everything super boobalicious and in stretchy material, so their garments are almost always a bad choice for me. I have two of their wrap tops that I regret purchasing. Anyone want one them? Size 3X? I have black and red. I can’t even wear them on dates because they’re so “HELLO, FELLAS, I’M CHESTY MAHONEY! NICE TA MEETCHYA.”
Pink top from Jones New York outlet in Maine ($30?). Cardigan my go-to Charter Club Macy’s brand.
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The shirt was a buy-one-get-one-free deal at the Jones New York outlet in Maine a couple years ago. I got the pink and the black and white polka dotted one. So I think it was honestly like $36 for both of them. I think this skirt was a buy-one-get-one 50% off at Lane Bryant, so I got the black and the cobalt blue at the same time for really reasonable price at the end of the season. I wear them CONSTANTLY.

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The shawl collar cardigans were on the sale rack at Macy’s years ago. I got a black and a navy and wear them ALL the time. Probably $20 each. My life is so much about my Macy’s cardigans. You just can’t have too many. Before I came to candidate with my congregation three years ago, I did splurge on two Talbot’s cardigans in fantastic blues. I’m sure they were on sale but they were still pricey. Talbot’s Woman is so expensive I don’t even buy their clothes on sale. I do have a skirt that I have worn a few times that I found on eBay, another good place to search for deals.

This Calvin Klein suit from Macy’s is the most expensive thing I have purchased all year. I got it last May for $90. I have worn it to four weddings, so so far it is proving to be an excellent investment.

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(The shirt I have had for years — also Calvin Klein from the sales rack at Macy’s).

This is a bit of a mess but everything I’m wearing is old sales finds. That belt is pony hair from Talbot’s and was 60% off, I think. It was a bit pricey for a belt for me but less than $30.
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This blue jacket from Torrid.com. Probably about $40? Torrid mostly sells way too hootchie stuff for us, but their jackets have often been a great fit for me because they actually have waists. The dress is so old, I have no memory whence I obtained it:

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Now, this dress was very expensive for me. I paid $90 for it from Nordstrom.com. It is by Adrienne Vittadinni. I think it was on sale but that was still a lot of money for me. I needed a dress for a wedding and i knew the cut was going to be great (no cleavage and midlength short sleeves) and I loved the print. I wore it to my 50th birthday and then to sing in in a Valentine’s Day cabaret. The blingy little black cropped cardigan is at least 15 years old and I purchased it at a Liz Claiborne outlet. Some things you never get rid of.
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Coats. This is a short ivory belted wool trench I bought years ago from the sales rack at Old Navy, size XXL and probably $35 on sale.

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This shawl collar belted winter coat was $40-something at Target two or three years ago. The hat was a gift from a parishioner and I bought the hat pin on Etsy for about $5. The faux fur scarf was on sale at Chico’s at the end of the season. Ancient black pants. Boots Le Canadienne from 2006.
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This green trench (too big on me, but oh well), from Lands End this season. On sale for I think $67, marked down from $90. I find Lands End clothes to be cut too big and boxy to be flattering but that’s because I’m shaped like a a double ice cream cone stacked on top of a meatball. Your mileage may vary, and Lands End makes solid clothes that you can style for more impact. And they have great sales and easy returns.
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So, Teresa, I hope this was a LEETLE bit more inspiring for you. I’m sharing all of these photos not to suggest that I am the paragon of plus-size dressing, but to show you in very specific detail where I found certain garments and exactly how much I paid for them.

Thanks for writing, pigeon!

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.