Saturday, June 17, 2006

What To Wear For A Crisis

A loyal reader alerted me to a lesbian Episcopal blogger who writes about attending General Conference and struggling mightily with the issues around radical welcome.

Sister, PeaceBang is 100% with you in spirit. God grant you strength and heart.

This blogger describes coming back from plenary sessions and getting dressed in a pair of gym shorts, a Red Sox shirt, a Red Sox cap and a pair of PINK FLAMINGO flip-flops to go down and have a meal at the hotel bar.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
I am still 100% with you in Spirit, sister, but not in style. It's time for an intervention.

Let us pray:

Dear Lord,
The work You call us to is hard indeed, and takes us down many a painful path. When our hearts are laden with sorrow and our spirits cannot find You, let us remember that we are nevertheless agents of your love. Give us the strength to remember this wherever we go, even so humble a place as a hotel bar. And Lord, give us the strength to look the part-- emissaries of grace, believers in beauty, people of dignity, representatives of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What To Wear For a Crisis:

Perhaps a pair of nice, gently flared dark denim jeans or a comfortable skirt, some fashionable boots if you need to kick butt (or want to give the impression that you could if you needed to), a tailored, white blouse, and a BIG cross. Cheery lipstick, and no mascara. Don't forget the white hankie in your pocket, and a packet of Kleenex in your purse.

Let us join in a responsive reading:

The only place that a clergyperson should ever wear sports regalia is while attending a game of that team.
All: We are believers in beauty.

The only place a clergyperson should ever wear pink flamingo flip-flops, if ever, is by the pool.
All: We are emissaries of grace.

The only place a clergyperson should ever wear gym shorts is at the gym.
All: We are dignified people.

This is the word of Truth. Thanks be to God.

Blogging Sister Friend, go in peace and sin no more.

Friday, June 16, 2006


When former Harvard President Lawrence Summers appeared at the Harvard Divinity School Convocation several years ago, he sat on the stage slumped way down in his chair with his legs sprawled apart. He looked like a disgruntled frat boy, but the fact that he was wearing academic regalia made him look like a particularly enormous and ill-mannered doofus.

I knew he was not long for his position, and I was right. His body language told me everything I needed to know about his inability to work respectfully and well with others, and to understand the concept of Occasion.

The way we sit is important, brothers and sisters. When you are in the pulpit or at any public gathering, concern yourself not only with your attire but with your comportment.

There should be no slumping, and there should certainly not be any sprawling of legs or any other body parts.

In the pulpit, there should be no crossing of legs. Crossing of the ankles is fine. Crossing of the self is also fine.

I know of a particular minister who does not so much appear in public as flings herself about. This extravagance of movement, also known as lack of boundaries, distracts greatly from her oratorical powers. Her words may bespeak Servant of God, but her body communicates labrador retriever.

I love labrador retrievers with all my heart, my dears. Just not in Christian leadership, no matter what Paul may have said in that part about "in Christ there is no east or west, or cat or dog."
When you buy shoes on E-Bay, you find some very interesting ads.

What in the sweet name of Jesus do you suppose is going on here? She didn't have a friend with a leg she could borrow?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Walking On Sunshine

Someone commented recently that she was trying to dress up for a board meeting but wound up tripping on her strappy beaded cork wedge sandals.

Were they something like this?


Because if so I have almost the same pair and I am telling you, girl, you just need to wear them once or twice and you'll be running around as comfortable as can be. I wore mine the other day and walked across a loose gravel parking lot with no problem, went on two pastoral calls and did grocery shopping. My feet weren't sore a bit at the end of the day. And if this meatball can say that, anyone can say that.

I alternate between sturdy flats and beautiful heels or wedges and I feel so much more pulled together in shoes with some height to them. I didn't wear heels for about ten years -- I thought I was too fat and they would hurt my knees or feet -- until my friend Nathan, an actor, director and drag queen, (and quite a big girl himself) took me shopping a few years ago and said, "Girl, get you some HEELS, for God's sake!" When I tried to demure, he said, "If I can wear them, so can you."

He was so right. I was descending into frump more and more with each passing year, and it began with the shoes. I still have, and adore, the comfortable Nine West pumps we bought for me that day, and I can't believe how easy it is to run around in them. But when I first got them I really had to practice a few times before wearing them to work. By now, darlings, they're like sneakers.

A tip: if you're not used to high heels, be sure to get something with a rubber sole or have them put on. There's nothing to put a girl off heels like slipping in the hospital on the way to a visit.

If you want to step out in the new ballet slipper flats fashion, these will do nicely:


These, on the other hand, will not, unless you also think it would enhance your ministerial image to go about sucking on an enormous lollipop:

This flat shoe is just frumpy, my doves. It cannot be redeemed by cute skirts or snappy socks or anything. It is a Frumpy Flat:

These flats should be taken out and shot:
illegal shoe
(This one, from the Olive Oyl Coutour Line, particularly offends me as a human being)

But this, amidst the thousands of ugly flats being shown this season, has a bit of retro 80's fun about it, and actually has a sense of style:


Walk with God, my friends. And when you're getting out of the car or truck on Sunday mornings in heels and your knee-length skirt, for heaven's sake be careful not to get into an "I see London, I see France" situation.

Alpaca Shawls

Here's a link to alpaca shawls, which make me itchy but which might just be the thing for you to snazz up a simple outfit of a beautifully pressed white shirt and a simple skirt or trousers. I see it with big, FASHIONABLE chunky jewelry (not the crap you got at the church fair in 1978, and yes, I can tell the difference), and a small handbag. You can't sling a big old purse over this. It won't work, because you'll just look like a deranged sherpa:

Now, I love what the model has done with the shawl. I want to know how to do that. If I knew how to do that, I would cover my horrendible upper arms with a light cotton shawl every day of the summer. Even in the swimming pool.

Of course you shouldn't wear a midriff-bearing t-shirt like she's wearing, or low-rise jeans. But the shawls are neat. You could wear one to the office for a meeting on the hottest days with a sleeveless shell underneath. But only if you have the flair and know-how to pull it off and don't wind up looking like you came to church helplessly tangled in your bedsheets.

I don't know if this company pays slave wages or anything. You'd have to ask.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Beauty is Relative... And Regional

Today I am wearing a white blouse with lovely detailing (set-in waist, thin, pretty lines of embroidered thread woven througought in slimming patterns), a lavender tulip skirt that flares at the knees, and 4" cork sandals. Also beaded earrings.

In Massachusetts this is normal girlie get-up. It may be a bit froo-froo for clergy, but I had a hot lunch date today with my staff and I wanted to be cute for them. Thank you for asking: I did have a glass of champagne with my oysters. We have long, hard winters here in New England and when we finally get to sit outside in the harbor and look at the boats, we think it's worth a 2-martini lunch. Which both my secretary and office manager did have.
Apple-tinis, bless their hearts.

Anyway, if I was living in Portland, Oregon or Berkeley, California, I would have more likely been wearing a denim skirt and a fleece pullover and some rubbery Keene sandals. And I would have been considered appropriately dressed. Because Outdoorsy Chic is very big on the Other Coast, and you can be clad in an outfit you bought entirely at Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) and be assured you'll fit into most gatherings.

(Or is it EMI? I feel like it's EMI. Eastern Mountain ... Indoors? No, that can't be right. I'm sorry, I try not to associate any more than is absolutely necessary with businesses that encourage people to think that sleeping outdoors is a good idea).

Darling readers, you know how PeaceBang feels about camping gear passing for professional wear, even if she did succumb to a FMBT (Fleeting Moment of Bad Taste) and feature a lumberjack shirt on a recent post of casual-wear recommendations for men.

PeaceBang feels that ministry should come with as much flair and elegance as we can individually muster. If you live in Land of the Lumberjacks and snowshoe your way to pastoral calls, perhaps flannel plaid is just what you should be wearing. There is a regional element to all of this, of course.

However, do you remember in all those dear old "Little House on the Prairie" episodes when the pioneers would spend all week in their overalls and wide-brim hats, toiling in the fields (and Laura and Mary would bring them cool ginger water) and getting grimy in a kind of sexy, manly, Michael Landon-ish way? But then when they went to Meeting on Sunday they took their weekly bath and got all combed and shined up, and put on their stiff Sunday best (which in Laura's case, meant bright blue hair ribbons on her pigtails)? And they looked kind of shiny and special, even if they weren't terribly comfortable and certainly not fashionable?

I think we should be shiny and special in some secular equivalent of our Sunday best every day. We should communicate shiny Sunday specialness when we dress every day, to represent the blessing of the Sabbath spirit whenever we walk into a room or into the office.

I confess, PeaceBangers, that I attended a board meeting last night in a pair of striped casual cotton pants, black flat shoes, and a black Johnny-collar t-shirt. No earrings, even. For a board meeting, acceptable enough. But last night we added a surprise dinner for two of our departing members; one of whom was a brilliant and amazing chair of our board for the past two years. The way I feel about those two people, I should have been wearing a bugle-beaded gown and a tiara. They are that special. I should have dressed up more to honor them. If either of them read this, they would roar with laughter and give me big bear hugs.

But you know, with all the joy and pride I feel in my governing board, and how much I adore them and am grateful for them, I could have, you know, represented better.

I've gotten off topic, but now I'm all emotional. You can't imagine how cute these people are. And the men were all wearing beautiful, crisp summer shirts in lovely colors -- some with ties! -- and every single one of them was ironed perfectly.
God, I'm going to cry.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I Heart E-Bay

Know why I love E-bay? Because just now, in less than one minute, I bought two Calvin Klein eye pencils in Dusk. It cost $9.50 for two pencils (shipping and handling included). One of those suckers cost $16 at Sephora.

I am doing the happy make-up dance!!

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.