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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ask the Matriarch - Collared?

There are no questions in the matriarchs' queue this week, so let's work one that appeared on the RevGalBlogPal Facebook page this week...

"Does anyone know where to get good fabric (not plastic) collars to fit a standard clergy blouse?" It's not precisely a ministry question, I know, but hot plastic does not improve one's pastoral skills!"

And let's expand you wear clerical collars? When do you wear them?

Tab or Roman collar?

Do you have a favorite brand or supplier of clergy blouses?

And if you don't wear a clerical collar in your ministry, why not?

Inquiring minds want to know... so join the conversation!

May you live in God's amazing grace+



  1. I have always bought my collars from St. Aidan's Comfort Collars. St. A's is a church in Michigan and the proceeds are used to support their outreach ministries.
    That said, I wasn't happy with the three I bought last year. There is too much fabric beyond the button hole. Of course, if I am wearing robes or a jacket, no one but me knows that. So I haven't made the switch to the much more expensive linen collars from Whippel. You can google St. Aidan's Comfort Collars and order online. The 1" collars are too narrow, though. Go with 1 1/2".

    I dress down in the summertime but wear a collar every working day the rest of the year. I rarely go to a hospital without it - in an emergency, I don't stop by the house to change clothes ;-)
    I live in a part of the world where there aren't a lot of women clergy. Most of them are Methodists and don't wear collars. My collar reminds me of who I have been called to be - it has stopped road rage more than once, for instance - but it is also a visible sign to this part of the world that women can serve God as clergy.

    As to the other questions, I like Almy's crepe de chine blouses cuz they button in the back and don't need to be ironed if you hang them up straight from the dryer. And I never wear a tab collar (which is more in use by Romans than Roman collars).

  2. I am a Presbyterian. I don't wear a collar because I am not a priest. As of mid-July, I will simply be a teaching elder (that when our new form of Gov goes into effect). I take seriously the idea of a priesthood of all believers. I wear a Geneva robe because I am a teacher, not a priest.

  3. I do wear a collar as a sign of my priesthood. I've heard that Cokesbury has linen ones, I looked on line but they were out of stock.

  4. church near cowsJune 16, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    I where my collar when people need to know that I am a pastor. Weddings, (and the rehearsal), funerals, confirmation, community events where I am representing the church, etc and for visits to hospitals and jails.

    I figure it is the uniform and helps people who don't know me know that I am the pastor. Plus I find I get a lot more help when I look lost in the hospital if I am where my collar.

    I live in an area with almost no female clergy. When I have gone to the grocery store after a hospital visit more I have been asked if I am really a pastor. Women who go to churches that forbid women to even read the lessons in church seem amazed and excited that I exist even if they would never come to my church.

  5. ref="">clergy shirts to wear or not to wear

    I posted a response on my blog ( )to the question. Bottom line: Yes I wear a clergy shirt from Almy at times my role is that of a clergy person. The Why is to establish my identity and authority for the occasion.

    Happy Reading

  6. I wear a collar when I am working (full "dog collar"; it reminds me whose I am and who I am. And honestly, wearing a collar in public has opened the door for some amazing conversations that might not have taken place otherwise.

    You can get linen collars from Wipple--some of my seminary classmates wear them--but unfortunately you can't buy from them online yet.

  7. I wear tab collars for funerals, weddings or other formal functions.
    I prefer the square tabs as they don't shift like the rounded ones (like the one pictured).
    Usually, I wear a nice dress or jumper under my robe on Sundays. Or dress wool slacks in the winter, when it is in the 20's or less.

  8. Exactly what Margaret wrote!

    I wear the plastic Clericool II (?) collars, 1.5". I, too, really like Almy's crepe de chine shirts; they wear well over time. I also have bunch made by a seamstress for way less than any store.

  9. I'm not ordained so I don't wear a collar, but I am vowed religious and we wear habits when we are doing ministry or at liturgy. I do a bit of outreach to the LGBT community and wearing the habit in that context, particularly at events like Pride, becomes an act of public witness that one can fully embrace being a catholic Christian and LGBT without compromising either.

    One of the most powerful experiences I had was at Outfest in Philadelphia. I was in habit and taking a shortcut through a small side street to get away from the anti-gay protesters who were using Scripture and a bullhorn to yell at people. A small group of students were hanging out in the alley and stopped me to ask if I was a nun and to ask about if the protestors were right about the Bible. They had so equated Christians with people who hated them that seeing me was a bit of a shock. I talked to them briefly and reassured them that God did not hate them and did a quick Bible 101. I will probably never see them again but it was a good moment and one that I hope planted a seed. It would never have occurred had I not been in
    habit. The flip side being the responsibility that goes with what one is entrusted with when one wears the habit...

  10. This is something I am currently rethinking.
    I thought I would never wear a clergy blouse, but the staff at the dementia unit we visit twice a month asked if I could look more like a minister [there is a team from the congregation]. Now that I have one, I do sometimes where it other places, ecumenical services, hospital visits. When I am leading worship, funerals or weddings, I wear an alb and stole. Living in an area with few women clergy, the response is often the same as Church near cows said – amazement, excitement, surprise. Why do I wear one? It is helpful for people to know where I fit in; it does help break the ice in some situations.
    I would confess there are times in the past when I have worn my clergy blouse to play the boys power game – not helpful!
    I only have one blouse, tab collar, and it is from
    Women Spirit , [Fitted Shirt-Tab collar].
    I have also brought stoles and albs from them. The blouse I have is cotton, so needs ironing, but fits beautifully, which isn’t easy when you are size 20.

  11. Dear all,
    interesting conversation - I usually wear a collar in ecumenical contexts and intensive care units at the hospital. My next purchase will be a fairtrade clergy shirt:
    Rev RK

  12. I now wear a collar every working day--not for me but for the people I serve. I, too, wear Aidan's Comfort Collars. I wear a shell I designed from the Womenspirit janey under the shirt or dress I'm wearing. Have never worn a clergy shirt. Like my own clothers too much.

  13. I like my fitted 3/4 sleeve blouse from WomenSpirit very much, and it was good in the winter to have one of their Janies to go under a v-necked sweater. However, I am moving to Haiti, so I just got a 100% cotton standard clergy shirt - one of the Lydia ones from Friar Tuck. So far, so good. I like the line on the WomenSpirit one much better, but this will be much cooler in the heat, I think.

  14. I'm an Episcopal priest and wear a collar most of the time. I use the Lydia shirts almost exclusively. I take them out of the dryer before the cycle finishes, so no ironing! I also remove collars from shirts I like and add buttonholes to make my own. If you can wear men's shirts and want an expensive treat, J. Peterman's Gatsby shirt makes a lovely cotton clerical. I only wear fabric neckband collars--MDS or Aidan's. MDS blends are available at and in linen or blend at These are MUCH less expensive and easier to get then the linen ones from Whipples, which I greatly admire, but can't be bothered! ALSO Womenspirit no longer markets their collar band slip, but you can get it made specially. I have one in black for under a cassock, a long white one for under an alb, and a shorter white one for under dresses.

  15. Have you tried the mds Fabric clergy collars and cotton rich shirts. Not only well made, but designed to hold their shape through many washes. They are available in the UK and many other retails in North America. Their clergy shirts are 70% cotton. You have to try them to understand why they are what they are.

  16. What is the name of this collar..?


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