Helen, our Lead Matriarch is out with a pinched nerve, and for someone who works with computers for one's paycheck, that is bad place to be. Hope you heal Helen, and get that massage.
Today's question has to do with one we all deal with and that is how to dress as clergy;
What is considered appropriate clergy apparel?
I typically wear black slacks (many different cuts and fabrics) or mom jeans with a turtleneck (usually white) or a shell and a jacket (usually with a mandarin collar).
I was recently at a clergy meeting where one of the other clergywomen caused quite a sensation. She's recently divorced, 50 years old and quite attractive (very nice figure). She attended this meeting in a very low cut pair of jeans, a midriff shirt and platform heels. (mind you, this is a gathering of clergy and the rest of us were in our "Sunday" clothes.) What caused all the twittering was her tat -- what is called by my youth group a "tramp stamp" and the fact that her thong "handles" were hanging out. I really don't think we got much business done that day.
The elder in charge said nothing, in fact, nothing was said until an older gentlemen looked at her said, "And this is the reason that women shouldn't be clergy." After that, as the saying goes, all hell broke out. I thought that people were going to be hurt....
So, I ask, what is appropriate clothing? I know I probably dress too conservatively, but I think I should err on the side of caution. Then again, do we have to look like nuns? I was reprimanded once for dingle-dangle earrings (well, it WAS communion and they WERE grapes!) Where do we draw the line?
And now for the Matriarchs’ answers:
Matriarch 1: Appropriate clergy attire is professional attire. Think about what comparable professionals in your community wear to work and/or when representing their organization at public events. What would you expect a college professor to wear to class? A librarian to wear behind the reference desk? An M.D. to wear when seeing patients? A counselor to wear when meeting with clients? A real estate agent when showing homes? A news reporter interviewing for a major story? Chances are you're not thinking bare midriff and visible thong underwear. On the other hand, you're also probably not thinking jeans and a sweatshirt or a wrinkled jumper thrown over a stained t-shirt. IMHO clergy tend to err on the frumpy side more frequently than on the too sexy side.
Matriarch 2: It depends on several factors, what denomination you are serving, what part of the country you are in, rural or urban, the event, and you can factor in size if you want.
Living in the South, the churches want you to wear robes on Sunday except in the Summer. Most people do not dress up as much as they used to, and so casual slacks and appropriate blouse or turtle neck is fine. Its good to dress up a little more if going to the hospital, other functions, conferences, other churches, funerals. Nice, clean, and non-holey Jeans are fine to wear here too.
Some of the female clergy in my denomination have begun to wear the clergy shirt and collar with slacks or skirts. Earrings and jewelry, should be kept to a minimum as to not draw attention to those items in the pulpit. But its okay to wear them like you want elsewhere.
The situation you described was over the line, way over or under as the case maybe in other words inappropriate.
Now for some recommendations: PeaceBang's Beauty Tips For Ministers is a good read, sometimes helpful, sometimes tongue in cheek, and helpful to learn about not being frumpy as clergy. Closet Smarts is a title of a book and website that PeaceBang's referred to in one of her posts. It's not about clergy women, but it is about dressing well.
Thank you Matriarchs, we know you must be the best dressed Matriarchs around! (said with tongue in cheek.) Now if the rest of you will talk amongst yourselves and put in your thoughts about dressing well as a clergywoman, you too can join the best dressed Matriarchs! (Hey maybe Nightline will do a piece on us too! Nah.)