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.