Thursday, July 23, 2009

Reflections on General Convention: Clerical Garb

From my vantage point in the exhibit hall at General Convention, I saw huge varieties in clerical garb. There were tab collars and full collars and linen collars and synthetic collars. There were people in various shades of purple and priests in black, white, blue, blue stripes, and unique patterned fabric clearly custom-made for the wearer.

Down the row from us were the ominous liturgy twins:

Their arms were not so much in the orans position as the "Come closer so I can strangle you" position.

And next door was WomenSpirit, a firm that specializes in making clerical garb for women. In a wonderful twist, they were back to back with the American Anglican Council of the "Me, Too" confirmation program and high dudgeon over women being ordained at all.

I got to talk with a lot of women clergy friends and colleagues and it was amazing how often the issue of clerical garb came up: when to wear it, what form it should take, formal, informal, on and on.

But the thing that got me most was how often I would hear from women who couldn't find shirts that fit. Not because people couldn't make them, but because people couldn't believe them when they said what fit them. "I have a size 15 collar and a size 8 shirt," for example, would be met with, "That's impossible." The neck size was "too big" for a shirt that small. So strange, given that you'd think people who make custom-sized clothes would know that people come in all sorts of different sizes.

Clerical garb is a strange mixture of tailored clothing and one-size-fits-all. Very much like being a clergy person.


PeaceBang said...

I am so linking to this hilarious post!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh! That's EXACTLY me! I wear my collars a little looser since I dislike the strangled feeling (and since I served as a police chaplain, I needed a collar that would work for the days I used my janey over my bulletproof), and they were the ones who told me that being a size 8 with a size 15 was impossible!

I buy my shirts at regular stores now and just add a button hole to add a collar.

LKT said...

Why don't they believe us when we tell them our sizes? That's what I do not get. We are not all mannikins, for Pete's sake.

Unknown said...

Check out CollarThis:

LKT said...

Thanks for the tip! The "sleeveless shirt" issue was another big one under discussion.

Jane R said...

Good points! And why have I not been reading your blog before? Glad to reconnect, once again.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I'm so sick of stuff being called custom made when it's really just the hemmed up version of the standard item (with a 20% markup).

I am also relieve that my 15 inch neck isn't in some way freakish ;)

Don't get me started on the dire need for maternity and nursing clothes