Friday, February 02, 2007

Matronly/Patronly Is Not Frumpy

I chatted with an elder female pastor about this blog recently and she bemoaned her lack of fashionability-ness. "I'm in a frumpy rut," quoth she, earning sincere protestations from my lips.

Say you've been in ministry for 25 years. You have a sedate hairdo that you haven't changed in a decade -- perhaps it even gently suggests the dreaded helmet-head. Your clothing is staid, your shoes well-polished and just this side of orthopedic. You have a string of pearls that adorn your neck most days. Are you in a rut? Quite possibly. But are you necessarily frumpy? NO!
You may well be matronly. And while matronly may not be very exciting, it can be perfectly respectable, and even quite handsome.

Frumpy and matronly are not the same thing.

Frumpiness comes from being blithely sloppy, wearing ill-fitted clothing, caring not one whit about cut and quality of garments, drowning in fabric or spilling out over straining seams.

Frumpy is about defensively insisting that despite the entire world's devotion to beauty, you are exempt by some inner virtue of the spirit that magically renders your exterior appearance unimportant. Frumpy is about holding onto some eccentric personal opinion about "what looks good on me" despite all your friends' advice to the contrary. It is about schlumping around in what is most comfortable, as though comfort is a higher virtue than beauty and elegance (it isn't) -- and steadfastly refusing to conform to even the most basic dictates of fashion because you believe you're too poor, too busy, or too deeply spiritual. It is about wearing sloppy clothing, hair and face as a badge of honor, political commitments or professional martyrdom.

Matronly or patronly colleagues, this is not you. If you feel you're in a rut, that's one thing. But by virtue of your conservative attire, you are not frumpy. You are not sloppy. You are not demeaning the status of our profession in the eyes of the general public. And for that, we thank you.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous MizDarwin said...

Helen Mirren in "The Queen" is a paragon of matronly dressing. Very stylish.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous dianet said...

I had someone once remark in seminary that she couldn't afford to dress the way I do. Little did she know that my pants are at least three years old (quality lasts) and I buy my t-shirts at Target so that I can change them according to the seasons. Just because I am in the ministry doesn't mean that I can't enjoy dressing well-I think that when we take pride in ourselves we are taking pride in our calling as ordained people.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous madgebaby said...

I have a friend in seminary who started dressing really professionally--turns out someone at her church sent her to the thrift store in the basement! At first she was insulted, then she found designer suits and coats for pennies on the dollar. A little alteration and she was the envy of her peers.

So, be shameless when necessary, particularly if you live in or near a wealthy area. You may be sitting on a pot of gold, metaphorically speaking.

3:21 PM  

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