Sunday, 13 February 2011

Clerical fashionista

Read a short article in The Sunday Telegraph about two clergy that met on Facebook and have now become engaged. It is a lovely story and I pray for them and for all those preparing for marriage at this time. There was however one thing that caused me to let out a slight sigh of despair and it was the photograph accompanying the article. joanna jepson The picture is of Rev Joanna Jepson wearing a clerical collar, only the collar isn’t attached to a clerical shirt and is more like a choker. Actually, I think Joanna’s outfit looks quite tasteful but I’ve seen others that were, frankly, distracting. The first time I saw one of these collars the wearer matched it with a cashmere v neck sweater and on another occasion the dog collar was worn with a matching patterned dress with a plunging neck line.

bad vestmentsI confess I am a fashion ignoramus, but then I didn’t expect a clerical collar to be a fashion statement. I guess it’s the logical extension of the increasing trend amongst colleagues to try and find   the wackiest / tackiest clerical wear. Clerical shirts now come in more colours than a Dulux paint chart and some vestments make Elton John’s 1970s outfits look understated. I once had a conversation with a bishop who assured me that the shade of purple was a significant decision and I know clergy who regard the size and type of dog collar as a statement of church tradition.

It seems that clerical wear has become an extension and expression of the minister’s personality. I had always assumed that the purpose of robes and other clerical outfits was to avoid such a statement, so fashion that people focused on the ministry not the minister. Now when I attend a diocesan service at the cathedral I’m not surprised if it turns out to be something like religious chic day at the London Fashion Week.

Would love to write more but I’m off to be measured for my latest alb. What to go for, gingham or plaid?

7 comments:

Archdruid Eileen said...

I think Bad Vestments has it about right. "Christian worship is not supposed to be about you".

UKViewer said...

It's an interesting commentary on what is or is not suitable for Clergy to wear.

In my Army days, there were strict rules about what you could wear in uniform and even off duty. Offensive T Shirts or logo's were forbidden. As an officer, shirt, collar, blazer etc were expected off duty.

Now retired, I relish the relative freedom of wearing jeans etc, even to church, being casual is a bonus for me.

However, when recently invited by the Bishop to a social gathering, I reverted to type, turning up in shirt tie etc, to find myself the odd man out. Such is life, you learn the social mores as you go along.

Fr David Cloake said...

I am with the 'wear black so that it is not about me' brigade. My place in the army chaplaincy has done much to reinforce my regard for uniform, and to a lesser extent perhaps, uniformity. I am not an oldie, but am proudly a fashion fuddy-duddy!

Albs with flowers or skulls-and-crossed-bones next ....

Robert said...

All too often, the message vestments give out is 'Look at me, I'm the important one here'. I know that's not the theory, but there's a mass of stuff around preaching and ordained ministry that boosts the importance of those who occupy these offices, at the expense of everyone else. Why is it, for instance, that preachers and ministers are expected to give the occasional 'account of their call', but church leaners, who are just as important and a lot more practical, aren't expected to have calls at all?

Robert said...

Sorry, cleaners.

David said...

I'd go for the gingham if I were you!

Richard Brown said...

But even clerical collars are fashionably fickle. Some of us can remember when the abbreviated collar (small white bit showing out of black surround) was definitely Anglo or even Roman. The solid dog-collar was absolutely only for evangelicals - the deeper the better. In a generation, that completely changed and now you have to look hard to see the white bit on an evangelical's collar. Whatever happened to the proper dog-collar? - gone to Rome, I suspect.