Ecclesiastical Council and Ordination Outfit Conversation

Happy Buy-Nothing Day from the Day-After-Thankgiving Hag, sweetlings! I had a very unhealthy relationship with a pecan pie today and I am feeling positively BLERGH! Just to do a quick post-T-Day culinary review: I will not buy a kosher turkey again, as it didn’t have all its pin feathers quite removed and it seemed four times fattier than any other turkey I’ve ever had. I had to skim the turkey stock I made from the carcass twice. All of my sides turned out fabulously and if you want to squirrel my fantastic cranberry-cherry sauce recipe away for next year you’ll find it at

How was your Thanksgiblets, dear ones? Who gave the blessing? Was it reverent, did it invoke Baby Jesus like that hilarious scene in that Will Ferrell movie, “Talladega Nights?” How many of you were guests in other people’s homes and got asked to give the blessing? That’s one of the benefits of hosting and having other clergy friends present: none of us are going to put anyone on the spot to give the grace, so we just do a general hands-around-the-table thing.

Anyway, to get to today’s column, I exchanged e-mails some months ago with a newbie named Vanessa. I haven’t blurred her face in any of her photos as she requested because when I did that she just looked like a monster. Please ignore her “messy” room. Vanessa, honey, that room is spotlessly clean. We all have unmade bed days ourselves, and no one’s judging.

So this is what she said, lo those many weeks ago when she first wrote to PeaceBang,

I have been a long time reader of BTFM and have learned so much about fashion and ministry and how they intersect – thank you so much.
I am writing for help. This Sunday I go before my Ecclesiastical Council to present myself as a candidate for ordained ministry. This will take place in the sanctuary of my church (New England congregational style with pews, etc.)and there will be anywhere from 15-50 people there. I am excited and nervous and having a tough time figuring out what to wear. Being such an avid fan of your blog, I know my guidelines, and what I would really appreciate is your opinion. I have taken a bunch of pictures of myself in different outfits.
My ecclesiastical council went so well. I had been stressing out about what blazer/pant combo to wear, but it was one of those 80+ days in September, so in the end I wore red pumps with about a 2 inch heel, grey/black slacks, a short sleeve white blouse tucked in, with a long necklace with gold jangly things. I wore my shoulder length hair down and did my best to de-frizzify it given the humid day. I usually wear flats, and I loved wearing pumps for this special occasion, it made me feel more confident [Yep! Those instruments of patriarchical oppression really are kinda fab.- PB].

My ordination is set for November 13th so I may be back in touch asking for fashion advice for that other momentous event! I am thinking right now that I am going to wear a cotton blue patterned dress that is knee length and long sleeves (picture attached…with aforementioned red pumps) but who knows I still have alot of time to change my mind! My white alb from Womenspirit just arrived this past week as well. It is all so exciting. Anyway, thanks again for your ministry!

You are so welcome, dear lady! This is what I wrote back to Vanessa after I saw her photos, which you can peruse below with your very own eyes. Please click on the images to enlarge them.

“Red pumps? WOO HOO. I think the rest of your outfit was classic enough to get away with it, though. Red pumps are one of those archetypal “bad girl” garments with a lot of erotic resonance that we just have to be aware of. As a young hottie you will have to be very mindful of when and how you wear them. I wish you had been in Louisville when we talked about the healthy recognition of eros love in the ministry. We have a LOT of work to do with that.

I love the dress but it is a bit sexy and open in the neck for an ordination. It’s really more of a party dress. Jersey wraps are super professional but also very sexy and body-conscious. With red pumps I have to say that’s too va-va-voom for an ordination, which is a solemn and very formal occasion. Stretch jersey is just not formal or structured enough for the nature of the event. That’s my official PB read on it, although again, it’s beautiful and you look great in it.”

Vanessa responded thusly,

Hi – Thanks for your thoughts – when I bought the dress, I thought about both of your concerns (both the neck and the stretch fit), which is why I wasn’t settled on it for that occasion. I am still looking, but feeling disappointed with what I am finding – many of the more structured dresses that I am finding at major dept. stores online, and area stores (TJ Maxx & Century 21) are just so plain and boring. But I still have time. Please feel free to use our conversation and the picture (I also attached pictures of what I wore for the Ecclesiastical Council…with and without jacket… if those are useful).
I love the red pumps, they are a subdued enough red, almost maroon [Yes, they are. Very pretty, wholly appropriate. – PB], and I wear them mostly with suit pants, but also with that black Ann Taylor dress you recommended to another reader this summer that I also swiped up. I wear that dress with a blazer now that it is getting cooler and I love it.

Ecclesiastical Council outfit without jacket:

This is fine for a day at the office but for a formal event I would stick with a more structured blouse. This looks a bit undone due to the blouson cut. Vanessa is lucky enough to have a long torso, which makes her a perfect candidate for something belted neatly at the waist.

EC outfit with jacket:

Very pretty, but for her professional closet I would recommend that Vanessa have a more fitted, structured top to go with this suit. Something with a higher neck than that scoop, which is fairly casual. She might find a classic silk shell or something with a ballerina neck. If she pulls her hair back in a classic chignon and adds a pair of striking earrings, she can have an option that’s even more polished and sophisticated.

SO NOW, newly-ordained Rev. Vanessa, please send some photos of your big day! We wish you and your congregation every blessing on your ministry together, and our most sincere congratulations on the happy fulfillment of your call to ministry in the joy of an ordination. Kisses, kisses and handfuls of confetti flung in the air on your behalf!

7 Replies to “Ecclesiastical Council and Ordination Outfit Conversation”

  1. You recommend she look for a classic silk shell – I would love to know where to find one myself! It seems now that we have camis and tanks, the silk shell (and it’s cousin the silky-look shell) are nowhere to be found.

    Does such a creature exist? Especially in the plus size?

  2. My condolences on the unhealthy relationship with the pecan pie. I had similar relationship issues with a commercially made (includes HFCS) pumpkin pie. I now feel cheap, used, slightly bilious, and abandoned. My good friend oatmeal welcomes the return of the prodigal.

  3. I raise my smoothie glass to you, WBJ. And I need to find some of our old emails because I want to feature you in a post soon.

  4. I buy silky (washable) shells (with and without sleeves) at the Kasper suit store (which only seem to be in outlet malls any more.) I find I have to replace the white ones at least every other year, because they get so sweaty during the summer and during anxiety-producing pastoral moments year-round (e.g. funerals, weddings, Easter, the Sunday the organist is seriously late, and when some elderly person on blood-thinners hikes up the thermostat!)

  5. I like her dress. Would a dark cami underneath conceal enough decolletage to make it more acceptable for ordination? Love the idea of red shoes for ordination! Re: Thanksgiving–bought the free range heritage turkey from the local poultry farm and it was delish! My venerable dad, raised up in Quaker schools, gave an ecumenical blessing.

  6. First Thanksgiving post gall-bladder was approached with great care and caution…just a bite of everything and I’m feeling absolutely self-righteous.

    I wear bright red heels every Pentecost. People love it. And yes, I thought a cami would make that dress very appropriate. I’m wearing one this morning to carry off my First Sunday of Advent dress…

  7. LOVE the dress and the red shoes (ed shoes for an ordination– how, um, in-spired!)I find the dress appropriately conservative as is — nohting va-va-voom about it at all, especially with those long sleeves. Congratulations to the Rev. Vanessa and your congregation! Every blessing in the years to come.

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