Monday, June 12, 2006

Why You Need A Trench

When you get your M.Div and are on your way to ordained ministry, make a bee-line for your nearest London Fog outlet and get yourself a fine trench coat in a neutral color. Get one that you love, because it's never going out of style and it will be a staple of your professional wardrobe until you behold God on your day of glory.

Say you have to make an appearance at a meeting but you're on your way to a date in the city and don't want people whispering about your little sexy dress. Leave your stilettoes and big earrings in the car, slip on a pair of sensible shoes, and appear in your trenchcoat. You're just stopping by, so it's a perfectly reasonable look.

Say it's pouring out and you've got to go from the church funeral to the cemetery to do the graveside service. Wear your trench, button it up, and you're appropriately dressed. Do not wear a hat. You don't need to shiver in your street clothes, nor do you have to get your vestments soaked while some poor schnook from the funeral home tries to keep you dry under an umbrella. Wear your trench and stand under the canopy. If you do get splashed, you won't look bedraggled. You will maintain proper clerical decorum in your trench. And no, for the love of Erasmus, don't put a stole over it. Everyone just attended the funeral. They know you're the presiding minister. Leave the stole OFF.

There are special fancy capes that clergy can wear, but although Boy in the Bands will disagree with me, I tend to think they suit Roman archbishops and cardinals fairly well but they're just a bit too High Priestly Drag for the average Protestant clergyperson.

Say you get invited to a snazzy affair with lots of bigwigs. All the men and women there will be wearing ermine-lined coats and mink stoles. You wear something simple and elegant and your trench. A trench is always presentable. Don't try to dress it up with a Burberry's knock-off scarf from Filenes: the Rich Will Know. You're a minister. You are storing up your treasures in heaven. Leave your trench as it is and be the somber, yet unchastising, silent reminder that you can't take it with you.

Say you are going from a wedding to a rehearsal dinner. You think you can wear your Land's End windbreaker because you're just walking into the building, for heaven's sake! Can't you wear your Land's End windbreaker?

No, you can't. You are going to a formal affair. You will be going to many formal affairs in your life as a minister. You may not wear a windbreaker or a polar fleece zip-up or that big warm poncho you got on a mission trip to Chiapas. You need a coat, not a parka, and it needs to be appropriate.

Try to obtain the finest trenchcoat you can afford. The belted style looks good on almost everyone and gentlemen, it should NOT BE TOO SMALL. There is nothing that bespeaks poverty so quickly as a skin tight trenchcoat with too-short arms on a frail elderly man. It makes me want to cry.
Have someone help you with the fit. Make sure it's neither too long nor too short.

If you live in a colder climate, get a trench with a removable lining.

Cover yourself appropriately or don't cover yourself at all and risk the frostbite, I say!
Ladies, I adore the cute little trenches we're seeing now in lime green and bright pink. They're affordable and they're darling. Have fun with them, but please, not for a graveside service.



Blogger Obijuan said...

Got a factory second London Fog in grey with a zip-out lining a few years ago.

Love it.

5:31 PM  
Blogger boyinthebands said...

I will reply to the bulk of your article at my blog, but a thought about scarves, the non-preaching kind.

Fake Burbury is not good, but given that it is a fashion tartan, rather than a clan or district one, it has little to commend itself as a denominator in the first place. Clergy could wear the Clark tartan, or one particular to their home region. (Many states have official tartans, and there are plenty of people willing to sell you a scarf made in it.) If "real" is what matters.

Or wear any fashion tartan; that's what they're there for.

6:37 PM  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

I didn't mean to imply that clergy should wear TARTAN! I just meant, "don't buy a cheap knock-off of something that everyone with the real thing will know is a cheap knock-off."

6:39 PM  
Blogger boyinthebands said...

Tartan! Tartan! TARTAN!

7:50 PM  
Blogger Errantfrogs said...

This is great info. I've wondered about my LL Bean parka and its suitability (pun intended) when it covers my good suit underneath.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous jinnis said...


Amidst all the other clergy wear conversations we did have this year, I'm sorry we neglected the discussion of coats. A coat, not a parka, is the better choice. Obijuan's sounds great. If my memory is correct, I think I have seen it and it looks quite appropriate.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Jordan Stratford+ said...

Yes! I have a dark green LF Trench, mercifully sans-epaulettes and grenade-clip D-rings. Over a cassock in winter or just a collared shirt in the interminable Northwest rain...

10:51 PM  

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