Sunday, September 10, 2006

Clerical Sartorial Splendour (Female Version)

I was thinking in the shower this morning, as I often do, about what I was going to put on when I got out of the shower. It being Sunday, I debated wearing a clerical shirt and collar. I decided against it, but it got me thinking.

I rarely wear a clerical collar. It's not because I don't like them, or have any philosphical distaste. It's actually swimming a bit against the tide of my denomination, in which most clergy wear a collar at every opportunity.

In my experience, they are useful sometimes--for instance, on hospital visits. Sometimes they command respect, and they always identify you as undoubtedly clergy. However, sometimes they arouse anger or distrust in people.

I wear mine when I am clearly representing the church--such as the media event last week--and when I am being interviewed by the media. I wear it sometimes when I visit in hospital, but there I also take a hint from the person I am going to visit. Some people are pleased to see the collar--I guess it gives me legitimacy in their eyes, or in the eyes of others they are concerned about--and others, as I said, distrust it. Occasionally--I will admit it--I wear it for the dicomfort factor. This is a heavily Roman Catholic town, and so it often disconcerts people to see a woman wearing a clerical collar. This can be an advantage, depending on the situation!

As to which I wear, I have both tab collars and one Roman collar. The tabs are easier to put on, but the Roman looks classier (to me). I have two long-sleeve and two short-sleeve. I would like to get one more of each, so that I don't have to immediately wash them when I take them off. Sometimes I wear them with a suit, sometimes just with slacks, sometimes even with tan khaki-type slacks.

United Methodists (my previous denomination) rarely wear them, in my experience, so I'm still getting used to the idea, and trying to work out what works best for me.

How about you? Tab or Roman? Every day or never? Ever tried a Janey? With suits, jumpers, vests (the latter two in the US sense!), skirts? Only on Sundays? Any make you prefer? Where are they least expensive?


Emily said...

Almy Clericool 2 1/2" Anglican collar for me, most days (although I've been much less inclined this summer with all of our heat waves).

I have a rabat and a sleeveless clergy shirt which I like to pair with pretty, "normal" shirts. But I also have a set of Almy rayon shirts--indestructible--you can spill spaghetti sauce on them to your heart's content.

semfem said...

Tab only for me, and I pretty much only wear them Sundays and for visits where it would be useful. I tend to see the collar as a tool of ministry rather than a legitimization for it.

I have five shirts. Three were created by my aunt and so are more comfortable around the neck (although there are a few other sizing issues) and are more contemporary in style. (One is a pale blue silk chef-style blouse with a tab collar and a Luther rose appliqued on the front.)

Two (white long-sleeved, dark blue short-sleeved) are from the Lydia collection by Augsburg Fortress, and while they are supposed to be a revolutionary fit for women, they are pretty much men's shirts--they come on cardboard and the sleeves are too long and the collars too tight, plus there's no surplus of fabric in front, if you catch my drift.

I have my eye on a Janie by the Anglican Book Centre in Toronto (my friend Erin adores hers), as well as a few shirts from WomenSpirit, once my budget allows.

I usually just pair them with dressy black pants, but occasionally with a suit or a black pinstriped wool jumper. I did a funeral recently wearing my long-sleeved black shirt and a long black skirt, and got called "Sister" a few times afterward. Heh!

Revem said...

As a Baptist in Australia we don't have clerical clothes in any sense of the word. I'm ok with this, but sometimes, in a culture where being a female minister is still unusual, a collar would be useful.

It would help people identify me as a minister, making the first 5 minutes of the conversation 'explaining that I am a minister' unnecessary.
I have a pin, of a dove and a cross, I put on my lapel when I go on hospital visits. This helps with identification in that situation.

There is also something of a dream there based on the Vicar of Dibley. But that's another story

St. Casserole said...

Clericals identify us. I am identified and therefore accessible when I wear my collar.
You can talk to me, tell me your troubles, ask for prayer. It's ok, I'm a pastor...

I wear the full collar rather than tabs. I have a janie and the elastic is goofy. A lightweight rabat from Almy? works better although it adds an extra layer. I live in the tropics so the temperature makes a difference to me. I think this summer is the hottest of my entire life.

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