Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ulla Popken Catalog

Darn it, Ulla Popken, can't a hefty gal get a break?

You used to be a designer of elegant and sporty plus-sized clothing. Even though you apparently designed for a striking, perfectly-proportioned Scandanavian giantess and I had to have them tailored within an inch of their lives, your garments were always well-made and professionally appropriate.

But now: What's with all the patchwork and ugly Hawaiian patterns and poncho-ish caftans and burnt velvet and what the heck is a SHACKET?

Please return to the elegant big-boned Scandanavian giantess look.



Dashes of CULL-ah

Beloved pigeons,

As the spring arrives and crocuses (croci?) raise their darling little heads and you are tempted to clean out the attic and the basement and the kitchen cabinets with such fervor that you throw out your back and have to preach the Easter sermon doped up on cocktail of Naproxin and morphine, let us consider together the use of cull-ah in our warm-weather wardrobes.

(It isn't color in Boston. It's "cullah.")

And really, it's best used as an accent.

PeaceBang has finally figured this out, and she is so excited! Color is good. We need more color in our clothing. Color has energy in it, it evokes emotions, it speaks of life and vibrancy. But head-to-toe color is too much. It confuses the eye, it is often unflattering to the body, and by far worst of all, it upstages the face. Wearing lots of bright colors - considered by some to be creative, fun and zany -- generally doesn't work for clergy. Do you want to be visited in the hospital by the Pink and Green Shirt and Skirt Combo? Or do you want to see your beloved pastor? Don't overdo the brights. Do add them into your wardrobe as you are able, but don't go nuts.

Neutrals and colors are wonderful together. Try a tailored charcoal gray suit with a bright yellow blouse, very au courant. A black suit with an orange or bright aquamarine silk shell underneath. Navy separates with lime green accents. Brown with touches of lavender.
Have fun, and enjoy. Adding dashes of bright color means that you can wear the same basic pieces again and again and again, changing them up with your accents of cull-ah.

Bright, bright yellow is very "in" this spring. Great color, but dear God, wear it away from your face unless you're very dark-skinned.


Handsome Color Combo!

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Hey fellas, stuck in a color rut?
I saw a lot of this in New York, and it's just plain handsome: French blue with olive green.


Male Grooming In Progress

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
When I asked this man if I could take his picture for this blog, he said "only if you don't get my face in there."

I complied, and here he is getting a pedicure. He was on the phone with his wife throughout his treatment, and then hung up and trotted right over for a manicure.

I asked him, "So, why do you do this? So many men think they shouldn't get manis or pedis."

He impatiently replied, "Well, their hands and feet probably look like s**t."

I LOVE New York!

Labels: ,

Sephora in Times Square

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
On my recent quick little jaunt to NYC, I had to stop by the Mecca of cosmetics, Sephora.

For all of you who wondered what Sephora is, here it is!

I met a fabulous gal named Alison who helped me with skin care products.

SisterBang bought some eye cream, and MotherBang sat patiently and waited for us. She says that if it doesn't have Retinol in it, it's a waste of money. She swears by Sally Hansen Skin Brightener.

Happy Birthday, MotherBang! You don't look it!

Custom Stoles

A lovely reader wanted me to post a link to her business, "Holy Cloaks," so here it is with my regards!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Welcome, NIGHTLINE Visitors!

Welcome to PeaceBang's Beauty Tips For Ministers!

As you can see, this is not a swanky blog with lots of hip graphics and brilliant organizational concept. This blog was started about a year ago by a minister for other ministers, to address the problem of our so often failing to communicate our inner vibrancy through our exterior appearance. Or as I put it, "the de-frumpification of the American clergy."

I, your humble correspondent, am a lady of the cloth, not of the internet. I wouldn't know an HTML code if it walked up and bit me on the nose. It is for this reason that I am particularly thrilled that a generous reader of this blog is going to re-design it soon so that it will be a lot more user-friendly and organized. Look for our freshly snazzed-up appearance somewhere around Easter, just when ministers are most in need of some snazz in our lives, wouldn't you say?

Beauty Tips for Ministers is a on-line community of clergy-- and includes some non-clergy readers who either just want either a good laugh or seek about how to dress professionally in a "casual Friday" world. We have readers from six different countries that I know of, and I conduct an enthusiastic private consultation with any minister who sends me an e-mail asking for advice. (Contrary to what was suggested on "Nightline," no one in my congregation asks me for fashion advice!! In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should reveal that we do occasionally discuss shoes at meetings and I did once receive a fabulous red lipstick as a Christmas gift from a parishioner.)

I am not paid by anyone for anything that I write, so if you were wondering if CoverGirl is slipping me a check for every time that I sing the praises of their Outlast All-Day Lipcolor in Blush Pearl, the answer is "No, but if anyone from CoverGirl is listening, wouldn't I be totally cute in a commercial?"

Scroll away, friends new and old. In these postings you will find heated arguments about shoes (no flip-flops! EVER!), rapturous recounting of the virtues of the Simple White Blouse, stern admonitions to gentlemen to Use Thy Norelco Nose Hair Trimmer, explanations of exfoliation, discussions on what to wear for a day that includes a funeral, a legislative session, a home visit, and a pizza party with the youth group, and general encouragement to all clergy to shine like the illuminating presence they were called to be-- however charismatic or gentle, prayerful or prophetic, old, young, gay, straight, feminine or masculine, fat, thin, tall, short, bald or lushly-maned they happen to be.

As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience." No matter how gloriously spiritual any of us may be, we meet people not through the radiance of our souls first, but through a simple human encounter in bodily form. And frankly, if we think that religious community is the greatest place to be in order to get the deepest, most transformational experience of life, we should project that through the part of us that actually gets out of bed in the morning.

That is the gospel according to PeaceBang.

Simply put, I am the self-appointed Stage Mother to all ministers, and I want all my babies to be stars.

If you're interested in reading my sermons as the Reverend Victoria Weinstein, stop by our church website at My writing as PeaceBang and my parish ministry with First Parish Unitarian Church in Norwell are distinct and separate from each other, but my congregation and I want to take this rare opportunity to invite you to share our ministry on Boston's South Shore.

If you're interested in the exciting, free faith tradition known as Unitarian Universalism, visit our Association's web site at

If you're a publisher with a book deal, why yes, I'm definitely interested.

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy Beauty Tips For Ministers, and may God bless your life with beauty, joy, health and peace.



My patient and dear readers,

Our "Nightline" segment will finally air tonight, Thursday, March 15, at 11:35 EST on ABC.

Kiss of peace!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

PB in NYC: March 2007 Edition

Hello my dear friends!

PeaceBang is going to spend two nights in New York City to be with her two favorite women in the whole world -- MotherBang and SisterBang -- and to celebrate their March birthdays.

She will be out of sight and out of touch to the blogging community through Friday.

Before she goes, she wants to share with you her deep joy at having had lunch today with two readers of this blog who drove all the way from Long Island, NY to Boston's South Shore to take her to lunch. I must say that I was truly moved that they would they do this, and delighted to find that they were inspiring, brilliant, beautiful, talented, funny, charismatic, committed Christian women and leaders with whom I will be most proud and happy to be associated. We had a blast. I am very excited to be the fairy godmother for a writing project they are embarking upon.

When I began blogging I had no idea that I would have wonderful people writing to me from as far away as Finland, Sweden, England and Czechoslovakia, that I would get invited to parties by readers, that I would subsequently be invited to preach part of the Good Friday service at a progressive Catholic congregation in town, and that I would be treated to a broader glimpse of what God is doing through ministers of so many different faith traditions.

It's quite amazing what's happened with this funny little blog, and I'm humbled by it and grateful for all of you.

Kiss of peace,
xoxo PB


"HI, I'm Really A Sneaker"

privo crush
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Uh-oh, ya'll, it's BLACK FLATS SHOE WARS!

But seriously, we all know how hard it is to find a suitable black flat shoe, so some of you are writing in with your recommendations. The most recent pitch was rejected by many of you for being too expensive and cutesy, and now I must reject these as being too much the wolf in sheep's clothing known as "Hi, I'm a Sneaker dressed up like a shoe."

Hi, Sneaker. You ain't fooling me. I know a sneaker when I see one, and though I would love you for the office and my day off, you would not be seeing the inside of my sanctuary, no way, no how.

That goes for you, too, Privo Colada,

privo colada

You're adorable as can be, and I might take you home, but you're not to be worn with skirts or at serious professional appearances.

And you, too, Privo Comice, even in black. You can't fool me. I know a sneaker cut like a real shoe when I see one:

privo comice pear

Hiding Our Lights Under a Bushel

[Lovely readers, in our earlier conversation about dressing for GA, Rev. Sean contributed a critical comment to which I wrote a fairly lengthy reply. I liked our exchange enough to lift it out of the comments and publish it as its own entry -- PB]

Rev Sean wrote,
I agree that a lack of concern for appearance can communicate a certain smugness and I totally agree about the darwin fish, but I don't think dressing casually (think shorts and sandals) is "a lack of concern for appearance." I have a friend who carefully irons his tshirts and shorts. He cares about how he looks, he just wants to be cool and comfortable as well. There are so many assumptions going on under this conversation. That people don't care about how they look or are purposefully sloppy and slothful may sometimes be true. But isn't it a stereotype to see someone who truly loves how it feels to wear their hippy skirt and assume it's either cluelessness or selfishness that they'd wear something you think is inappropriate for clergy?
And oh, the regional differences. I minister in the West. Here, showing up in a suit and tie communicates that you are probably an outsider to our culture. An assumption of arrogance may be made as well. People here dress practically. I'm not sure they even think of clothes as a means of communicating how much or little they value something. Clothes are like tools--you wear what's going to be useful and comfortable.I'm not trying to be argumentative, but ever since you started this blog, I've been slightly troubled by it. (At the same time I love it b/c your wit and humor just right.) I guess I just keep feeling like there is a fine line between judging people's "style" and judging--well--people. I guess I'll just keep being uncomfortable and keep reading too.

Then I said:

Sean my dove, no prob.

I don't mind your pushing back, and I know you've been slightly uneasy but that you keep having fun here nonetheless. I do try to be clear, though.

When I say "wrinkled khaki shorts and teeshirts" I really do mean that, not hippie skirts. Hippie skirts are fine, too, when paired with neat and put-together tops.

I exaggerate disapproval for certain garments to make a point and to be outrageous. No one pays attention to the gal who writes thoughtful little suggestions about clothing. You gotta grab people, get 'em thinking, get 'em laughing and occasionally ticked off. Then we're getting somewhere.

As you know, I'm against drab and thoughtless and sloppy outfits that project either, "Don't notice me" or "I'm too spiritual to bother with grooming details" -- all of which I still see so much of in the clergy gatherings I attend that I'm going to keep 'Banging away about it.

There's nothing wrong with being clueless: most of us aren't super confident about our appearance in the first place.

But here's the thing: no one has ever suggested to clergy what's appropriate to wear. So I'm making it up as I go along based on pretty serious thought and analysis, and so far a good number of readers have validated that I'm doing an okay job of it.
Certainly everyone understands that this is all being offered in good faith.

Some people have critiqued me for setting out "elitist" standards but I'm simply taking my cues from careful observation of other leaders in positions of public trust and respect that are roughly commensurate with that of the clergy.

For us to blithely thumb our noses at that in favor of what's most comfortable is not just missing an opportunity, it is actively misrepresenting ourselves. I know clergypeople to be charismatic, sharp, dynamic, funny, deeply alive people and dammit, our attire too often projects another reality entirely!

I deeply believe it will be a GOOD thing (thank you, Martha Stewart) if more of us align our exterior image with our interior vitality. I'm tired of clergypeople's charisma, brilliance and contemporary savvy being one of the most well-kept secrets in American society. That's why I'm putting myself out there publicly to do this work. It's a risk, I know it, and I'm ridiculed by many. But honey, here's where we have to cue up the big showstopper about how I won't quit,

because..."EVERYTHING's comin' up ROSES for YOU and for MEEEEEE!"

Or, if you prefer,"I... AM... what... I AM.. and what I AM needs no excuses..."
11:25 PM


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Style, Not So Much "Fashion"

Dear PB,
This is a great blog... but I wonder... what fashion tips can you offer to those among us who are, well, gender different? I am a somewhat "butchy" woman... Pants suits are my thing. Think Ellen DeGeneres. Any tips for the likes of me? (There are others...)

Dear Somewhat "Butchy" Woman,

Thank you for inviting me to "think Ellen DeGeneres," as I think she's absolutely adorable, effervescent, and a perfect example of someone who has an impeccable sense of her own style and image, and who unabashedly projects joy, generosity of spirit and genuine interest in the human species... all wonderful qualities for a minister to have.

I am trying to move away from the word "fashion" as often as possible because to me, that word connotes the whole "fashion industry," which is something that PeaceBang -- and most of us -- participates in in a very peripheral way, and THANK GOD for that, sez I. Otherwise we gals would be walking around in sheer babydoll dresses with black leggings, 4"lucite wedge heels, black nail polish and perma-pouts, and the fellas would be wearing mesh shirts and skintight white pants. At least according to the latest fashion spread in Out magazine.
So really, dear Somewhat Butchy, throw the concept of "fashion" to the winds if it seems intimidating and distant to you. Think of "fashion" as that kooky aunt you like to spend time with, but who you really shouldn't try to emulate if you want to be a respectable person in society.

Let's think "style" instead of "fashion." PeaceBang prefers to do that for three reasons: 1. she is a size 18 petite and they just don't make "fashion" in that size 2. even if she had tons of dough she would never spend $700 on a bag 3. fashion is for fashionistas, and for the rest of us it should be like art: an inspiring place to get ideas.

(This is not to say that those of you who are downright fashionable should stop being fashionable. We know who you are --KR in OH, I'm looking at you--and we throw admiring handfuls of confetti at you. Rock ON with your fabulous selves).

So, dear reader, you say you're a "butchy woman" and "gender different." All of which means that you're a pioneer in our society, and certainly in the ministry, and that you're constantly navigating people's intense reactions that may come from curiosity, from homophobia or from recognition and admiration. Whatever it is, and whatever it comes from, you are on the receiving end of it whether you want it or not. PeaceBang salutes you for wanting to be more intentional about the image you're projecting -- she just exhorts you to remember that your image is all about what you want to say, not what you think they want to hear. In other words, there is nothing about your personhood, butch, femme, whatever, that should dictate to you how you dress.
Let's explore that a bit more.

You say that pants suits are your thing. Does that mean that you really love pants suits, that you feel confident and like your most authentic, put-together self in pants suits, or does that mean that you sort of feel like you have to wear pants suits because nothing else really works for you, or because that's what people expect of you?

Do your pants suits fit well? Are they a color, cut and fabric that look great on you, or are they essentially cut for a man but marketed to women? Fit is important. Bad fit is very distracting; it can signal to people looking at us that we are living outside our bodies, and it can make us look not like we're dressed, but that we're "dressing up." This is a potential problem for ALL of us, but it has different consequences for people with the added complexity of gender identity issues.

SBW, I hope you can find someone respectful and helpful to tailor your clothes if you need to: you need to be able to talk about what you want without fear of being judged, a problem that people (gay or straight) dressing within gender stereotypes don't have to worry about. Never hesitate to say, "I have a vision of myself, and I need your help tailoring this outfit to make that happen."

Whatever look you want to cultivate, SBW, the same advice applies to us all: wear garments that fit, are clean and neat and help you feel confident, choose colors you love, and attend to details that indicate a basic awareness of current fashion. Have fun with it.

Let me know if this has been helpful at all.
Kiss of peace!
xoxoo PB

A Reader Recommends Tory Burch Shoes

Dear ladies,

Do you have a penchant for cunning ballerina flats? If so, read on.

Reader K. recommends these shoes by Tory Burch. She says they look just as brilliant with jeans as they do with vestments, but when PeaceBang saw the price she fell backwards off her chair and had to be helped back up by the cat, who said "Wow, you must have a head injury, because I'm a cat and I can't talk."

Here are the darling ballerina flats, not PeaceBang's personal style or budget range, but may be just what you're looking for:


General Assembly Attire

This from one of our beautiful readers:

Hi PB,

You’ve probably already done this, but could you talk about professional casual wear (from tops to shoes) for GA? I’ll be standing in the booth for a great bit of time and will also have to “suit up” for a breakfast event. I’m not clergy, but am UU representing a UU organization and for the last two years I’ve felt either overdressed or underdressed—and never comfortable. Any suggestions? UU Momma

Dear UUMomma,

Bless your heart. General Assembly is a very difficult event to pack for, as it's generally scorching hot outside and freezing inside, so what's a guy or gal to do? PeaceBang favors cotton cardigans and shawls and mixing it up with interesting accessories. She loves Charter Club cotton sweaters. They cost about $35 and they are beautifully made and withstand washing well.

As we all know, PeaceBang writes for the clergy crowd, but in this case (and because one of her own congregants owned as to how she was shocked and dismayed by the slovenliness of the other delegates to the GA), she is happy to extend her invitation to Bring On The Beauty to her layfriends and readers.

Unitarian Universalists, arise! Consider! When we descend en masse upon St. Louis or Rochester or Portland or Cleveland, we have the opportunity to make an impression! And that's a wonderful thing! Just one more exclamation point for emphasis! How 'bout it?

PeaceBang honors the sacrifice of time and money that laypeople make to attend GA, but wants to remind us all that when we're doing the work of our association, we're not on vacation. We should consider dressing a step up from tee-shirts and shorts.

Heed the words of my colleague, the Rev. Tom Schade, who wrote,

"A lack of concern for appearance communicates only disregard and disrespect for those we serve [within the context of GA, this means "the greater cause of Unitarian Universalism" for all of us -- PB]. It also graphically demonstrates that religion and the church don't really connect to the real world, but exist only in some parallel universe of our own making, a world where thinking is supreme. It is also self-indulgent and morally smug at the same time."

Who loves you, UUs? PeaceBang loves you! But it's time to honestly acknowledge what we're really communicating about our identity as a faith tradition when so many of us come together for our big annual meeting looking as though we've tumbled out of the back of a VW minibus. Now, if you actually got to GA riding in the back of a VW minibus, more power to you, I say. I shall not look askance at your wrinkled khaki shorts and Darwin fish teeshirts.* But if you didn't -- and most of us don't -- let's think about putting a more neatly-shod foot forward when we pay each other the honor of showing up to do important work. Maybe it doesn't bother you to be known as The Old Hippie Church. I happen to think that's kind of funny, myself. But it does bother me that we are so easily stereotyped. When it's easy to stereotype a group, it's easy to dismiss them. We don't want that.

NOW, UU Momma asked for some ideas on how to pack for GA, and particularly for breakfast events.

First of all, Momma, let's talk about being over-dressed and under-dressed:

> If you find that you're over-dressed for an event, WORK IT. You should never, ever be ashamed at having put extra effort into your appearance for any event. If everyone else showed up in Hawaiian shirts, that isn't your problem. You just wear whatever you've got on and be who you are with pride and confidence. I trust you aren't wearing bugle-beaded evening gowns, so really, relax.

> If you find that you're under-dressed for an event, WORK IT. Sit up straighter, put a big smile on your face, be as gracious as you can be, and make a note to yourself so you don't make the same mistake the next time. This isn't so much about what someone else might say about you, it's about how you feel about you. There is no dress code at these events, so it's up to you to represent yourself and your organization in the most appropriate way possible, relying on your own sense of style and occasion. Believe me, my dove, you don't want to take the average group of Unitarian Universalists as your guide, as we are notoriously, shall we say, elaborately and casual.

PeaceBang's Guide To Packing For GA:

1. Everything has to go together for maximum mixing-and-matching of every garment.
2. Accessories are key: they take up very little space and they can make you feel put-together with no effort at all. Think chunky cascading bead necklaces, distinctive belts, great earrings, a few scarves that array you and don't drown you.
3. Skirts pack well if you roll them. I usually bring one floral and one solid. Unpack and hang them right away.
4. Black pants are great for traveling in. Heck, you can wear them every day if you like.
5. Three or four crisp bright tees for wearing under cardigans or cotton blazers are a godsend.
6. Shoes have to be comfortable for walking miles through convention centers-- a nice sandal is all you need. If you find that you're obsessing over finding the perfect GA sandal, no, it's not just you. You have LOTS of company!
7. Bring a travel size of Febreze.

For a one-week conference, I usually pack two skirts, two pairs of pants, three or so blouses or tees and a cardigan or blazer (it depends if I'm leading any programs). That's a lot, but I roll everything up and get it into one little bag. My cosmetics come in a separate steamer trunk. Really, though: hotels are murder on my complexion! I have to have a full defense arsenal.

* PeaceBang wishes that religious liberals would consider how rude and smarmy they're being when they wear or display the Darwin fish symbol, which takes a symbol common to all Christians and insults millions of them by assuming that all Christians are creationists. We're not, and if UUs want to be seen as a tolerant, dignity-respecting religion, why walk around in something that's the sartorial equivalent of a Bronx cheer to all Christians? I think we can do better than that. Or at least save it for home wear, not for when we're all together making a collective impression.