Stepford Preacher

In this little back-and-forth in the comments section,

Hafidha talks about her aversion to overly-coiffed clergy people.
I think she makes a very interesting and important point, which is that we do tend to suspect folks who are too camera-ready of being inauthentic and out to sell us something.

I understand this reaction, but I think it’s not a matter of clothes and grooming as it is of personal style. All the guys and gals I know who are Barbie and Ken Clergy — “Hi! God loves you! Give us lots of money so that I can buy a Dream Camper to go on mission trips in!” — are fakey nightmares with or without the Mystic Tan and $100 haircuts. They smell inauthentic. Their clothes and make-up don’t make them into Stepford Revs. — they were that way in the first place, and simply sought the public look that would express their plastic interiors.

Don’t be afraid of the Beauty, friends. If you’re your true, warm, good and loving Spirit-filled self, everyone will smell that long before they smell your Eau de Merveilles by Hermes.*

*PeaceBang’s personal scent, which she hopes she doesn’t wear too much of. If she stinks to high heaven when you meet her, please draw her aside and quietly hand her a Dickinson’s Witch Hazel towelette, a travelin’ well-groomed guy or gal’s best friend.

Snazzy Conference Babes

I attended the United Church of Christ Massachusetts conference gathering as a singer (“the entertainment”) this weekend and noticed an awful lot of people in Jesus Casual, as opposed to Business Casual. Sweet people, I know. It’s a weekend thing, you’re schlepping around a college campus, you want to be comfortable. But I still don’t think that “comfortable” warrants a faded T-shirt with some old Gaia graphic on the front, paired with cotton pull-on pants and sandals with fungus toes.
I thought I didn’t need to say this anymore. I thought we all agreed by now that there’s never any reason to wear shirts with kittens, bunnies or fluffy little birds on them. I thought you were going to empty your drawers of those and give them to — strike that. Don’t even give them away. Rip them up for rags.

After our evening concert I struck up a conversation with a very fashionable young woman and complimented her on her outfit. She was wearing a terrific, fitted black suit, very cute pointy flats, a great emerald colored sleeveless shirt with a little front bow detail, and she had great curly hair and a GREAT bag. She looked like a Somebody, and she is. She is in a position of leadership at the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and as are most women in religious leadership, just thrilled to talk about clothes and make-up with another woman.

I loved her observation that when a woman wears, say, MASCARA in the pulpit in some communities, she’ll get hit with something like, “How come you’re trying to be all sexy in the pulpit and everything?”

I have never in my life heard anything like that but I don’t doubt it goes on all the time. What I tend to get, by contrast, are concerned questions like, “Don’t you feel well?” or “You look so tired, is everything okay?” when I leave off the mascara and the rest of it. I say, “I’m FINE. This is my NATURAL BEAUTY. Aren’t you glad I don’t inflict my NATURAL BEAUY on you every day?” And they nod understandingly and wait patiently while I apply some lip gloss.

Being polished can be sexy, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to be as beautiful and vibrant a presence as we can be. That might mean a fresh-scrubbed face and a big smile, it might mean smoky eyeliner and big hair and a big smile, but it never means a kitten or puppy sweatshirt and a big smile. That is where PeaceBang draws the line.

Next posting: What Should Clergy Wear To The Wedding Rehearsal and Reception?

On Caftans and Muumuus

Here is the most elegant and beautiful Isabella Rossellini, ya’ll, who has gotten quite voluptuous in her dotage. Look at her. She’s all beaming and round-faced because she’s not really modeling any more and she’s eating butter and drinking Merseault in places like Gstaad and Biarritz. She’s Isabella Rossellini. She doesn’t care if she’s got avoirdupois. She is eternally gorgeous.


There’s a lot that works here: the big smile, the classic red lips, the colorful beads, the creative, flowing garb.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot more that doesn’t work here:
the hideous color of the caftan (she can sort of get away with it but I doubt you can, and I certainly can’t), the hacked-at hair with no movement and no shine or discernible style to it, the sneakers (ack! sneakers!?). And it’s too bad she’s dragging around that white bedspread; she looks like a first-grader heading to her first sleepover.

The caftan, ideal for hiding a multitude of sins, should ideally be about mid-thigh, and she should have beautifully flowing pants on underneath, and maybe a boot with a heel. Unless she’s been on a flight all day, in which case the dressed up sneakers might be temporarily forgiveable.

I understand that the caftan is a traditional Indian garment, or at least I think it is. And I respect that. However, she still looks like she’s swimming in it and it’s just not flattering.

The way to redeem this look would be to do something with the hair (like grow it to balance out the chipmunk cheeks), cut about half the caftan off, put on a more appropriate shoe, and stay away from mustard yellow.

She’d still do a lot better if she wore a fitted jacket or tunic and created the funky ethnic look she seems to be after with lots and lots of beads and a turban. She could absolutely tear it up in a turban.

If you want to see a really cute caftan look, check out Gwen Stefani at nine months pregnant (and I’m referring to the far left photo in particular):

cute caftan

Thanks to Go Fug Yourself for the photo.

Buy It Anyway

I met a brand-new minister recently who asked my advice on what to wear for her first Meeting The New Church social outing.
We had such fun clucking like a couple of little hens about it.

She wrote to me today and said that she wore a black pencil skirt, a smashing pair of Anne Klein black slingbacks (bless her heart), and this sweater:

Yes, it’s too expensive for her budget, for yours, and for mine. HOWEVAH, after spending three weeks looking for just the right thing, how much do you it was worth it to her to land this darling item and to know she looked absolutely drop-dead perfect for this important event?

The moral of the story is: if you find something you absolutely adore, that fits you beautifully and fills you with confidence and a sense that you’re dressed just right, buy the damn thing. Buy two. Because I’m telling you, you can always take on another wedding to earn some extra bucks, but you can’t always find something that exquisitely expresses the youness of you.

Clothes Allowance

A ministerial friend and colleague told me today that when she left her first church, they gave her a gift of $1500 to go buy some new clothes.

Apparently they didn’t love her red Converse sneakers as a “look.”

She’s just as cute as can be and taught me this genius way of twisting your hair into a bun and then tucking it inside out so it looks like the most elegant chignon. See me at GA and I’ll teach you.

Anyway, I told her that when she’s 75 she can wear high tops all she wants because by then she’ll be established and it can just be an eccentric touch. She does have to wear great trousers and funky jackets to go with them, though, or whatever else is au courant.

In case you were wondering, you can TOTALLY give me $1500 to buy new clothes ANY TIME YOU WANT! I won’t be at ALL offended!