Saturday, 9 July 2016

Clergy Dress

The Church of England Synod is addressing the question of what clergy should wear, while the Mail warns we could be on the verge of mankinis in the pulpit. What on earth is happening?

Here at the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley we're quite clear that all worshippers are expected to
The Budgie-Smuggling Bishop of Bath and Wells
wear hi viz and steel toe-capped boots for health and safety reasons: there's always the danger, when you're a radical alt.liturgical community, of being run over by a unicyclist, or hit by a flying pigeon. The Druids are distinguished by wearing Druid hats. And as Archdruid I get to wear a particularly pointy hat.

But the Church of England has always been clear that the clergy must be dressed distinctively. For instance, many clergy of the evangelical wing wear lounge suits and ties, or tweed jackets with chinos. You don't get much more distinctive than looking like everybody else did in the 90s.

In a typical C of E service, you may find that the vicar is wearing a cassock. Not a cossack. If the vicar's got a cossack on him you're in a very different kind of church. Above the cassock (long black tunic jobbie) they will wear a surplice (lacey white nightie) and normally a stole or, if it's not a communion service, a scarf.
Not a mime

Be aware! If the person leading the service is wearing a blue scarf, they're a Reader. They're not a priest so don't call them "Father". Unless it's your dad, obviously. They're not "impostors" and accusing them of impersonating a vicar is a good way to lose friends. It turns out.

Also be aware that just because somebody is not wearing a dog collar they may still be a clergy. Take Giles Fraser, for instance. He prefers to wear black T-shirts so people think he's a mime artist. But he's not. He's a bona fide clergy and Guardian columnist.

The Corpus Christi Procession wasn't what it was
I'm confused by the comment that clergy dress should not be "sexy"
however. Surely sexy is in the eye of the beholder? I mean, I bet some people really get quite excited over a nice little gold chasuble. So what do you do? Should the clergy be made to wear oil drums so nobody could possibly start feeling a bit frisky during the service?

No, let's get this straight. People go to the C of E and expect to see the vicar in a dog collar and a cassock, At the Methodists, you wanna see a tidy suit. Baptists, something drip-dry. If you're a Beaker person, make sure you wear something flame retardant. There's a lot of tea lights about.

"Man in a mankini": By Gpqs - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 
Giles Fraser image from the Guardian
Last of the Summer Wine: Pinterest


  1. To be honest all of the hoo haa about Vesture comes down to my wife irreverent when I wear an alb "You look better in a frock than I do". Nothing like having the pomposity punctured :)

  2. Wearing a cossack would be a Russian unOrthodox church!

  3. A mankini doesn't leave many options for fastening one's academic hood.


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