Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I don't glisten, I sweat: navigating heat and clericals.

this is me, in Waco.
Dealing with the blazing hot heat of Texas is, without question, the hardest thing for me to navigate when I think about wearing clericals.  I've found ways to make clericals cute, but I have not found a way to make clericals heat resistant!

At what point can we wear our collars with a tank top, like a choker?  Never?  Well, in that case my suggestions are all gone.

Now, a quick story, so that we can all share in a laugh at me...

So, recently I went to Waco to interview for a job, and knowing that Waco is BLAZING HOT I went to Target and bought a cute tank top that could be altered into a clerical.  (It has ruffles!)  I was thrilled.  Problem #1: The stupid thing was see through.  It kind of kills the whole "not so hot" remedy when you have to put it over another shirt.  Problem #2: In a freak cold snap, Waco was rainy and cold and I spent most of the day shivering and dashing between buildings in the rain.

God laughs at me, I just know it.  Consider my fashion for that day THWARTED.

I'm realizing that I'm headed into a parish that really values clergy in a collar, more so than some, so I'm preparing for the BLAZING HOT summer.  So, that begs the question:

How are you beautiful ladies who are priesting in the hottest parts of the U.S. wearing clericals on a day to day basis without spontaneous combustion?

The closest I can get is to use my thoughts on boho chic priest.  That, or... wait for it...


Now, don't be fooled: you have to wear a shirt over this.  (Otherwise, I wouldn't be posting a blog about needing a clerical for the heat!)  The problem with the Janie is that I see it looking bad more than I see it looking good.  Of course, there are many different types.  This one, with the hook in the back, is probably the most flattering one.

So, you ladies with the Janies (I first sang this like Beyonce, "ALL THE JANIE LADIES")--the questions are:

  1. What's the best brand?
  2. What should you wear it with?  What works and what doesn't?
  3. Is it actually any cooler than just wearing a regular clerical?

If you have pictures of you rocking a Janie that you'd like to share, please do, with some comments about why you love it.  Also, if you want to answer the questions and have it featured on the blog, I'd love to do a follow up.  Send these responses to erinjeanwarde@gmail.com!

I know the simple answer to dealing with the heat is to "get over it," but one of the main ideas behind this blog is to recognize that confidence goes a long way.  If I walk into work sweating profusely and feeling like the frumpiest woman alive, I'm already off my game.

Plus, I double checked and it says "rend your hearts, NOT your garments," which was a devastating realization for me about the text.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TUTORIAL on altering clericals + Boho Chic Deacon

Friends and Followers,

Right now I'm toying with some ideas for new clerical fun.  I've tailored a few shirts myself (I know, right?!  Hand sewn, even!) and now that I've got that down, I'm ready to tailor some funkier black shirts and see what happens.  Before I continue, the steps for tailoring your own clerical...

Step 1: Find a shirt that buttons all the way to the top.  A friend of mine and I (shopping for potential future clericals of course) had a very hard time finding any that would button to the top!  It was shocking how many department stores do not carry them.  Apparently the new fashion is to make them to where they are basically business shirts with a v-neck, which means they won't work.  Because of this new fashion trend, I recommend looking at a thrift store or a TJ Maxx/Marshall's of sorts, because they'll most likely have the kind of shirts you need.

Step 2: Remove the very top button of the shirt.  It can be discarded.

Step 3: Where the button used to be, cut a slit in the fabric the size of a button hole.

Step 4: Reinforce the hole.  It can easily be done through hand stitching.

Step 5: Find the exact center of the back collar of the shirt.  This can be done by folding the shirt on it's side, to where it will show you what the center back is.

Step 6: At the exact center of the back of the collar, cut a slit for a button hole.  Reinforce said button hole.

Voila!  Your own hand tailored clerical.  You'll lock the front of the collar into the original button hole and the button hole you created.  You'll lock the back of the collar into the button hole you created.

Note: depending on your neck size, this may or may not work.  When you shop for the shirt, take your clerical collar so that you can place it around the neck of the shirt and make sure the neck of the shirt isn't too big for your collar.  If it is too big, you'll have to do some advanced sewing for your clericals, which I don't know how to do.  Then it would be time to call in a tailor!  :)

OK, with that tutorial done, I want to share some ideas I'm having...  Lately, I'm really trying to claim my boho chic fashion sense, and I don't see why that can't transfer into my clericals!

I love the idea of trying to find a blousy, button up tank, and making it a clerical... Then, of course, pairing it with a maxi.  Instead of having so much jewelry on the neck, I'd stick with my pectoral cross, but consider bangles on the arms.  While I know this is pretty casual, it seems perfect for an office day at a church in Texas!


Another image I'm inspired by..

It's a very similar look, but I love the addition of the belt and brown sandal.  I also like the longer necklace, and I wonder if I could wear my collection of three crosses on a longer chain instead of my normal pectoral cross.  I think it would fit the boho look, and still be fitting.

Share your thoughts!  Also: I recognize that this isn't everyone's style, but what I'm trying to do is explore how a person can take a non-cerical style (like boho-chic) and translate it into this work... So let's try to share our thoughts with that in mind!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate, in the Central Gulf Coast


Tomorrow will mark one month as a deacon in the Episcopal Church, and obviously shows how late I am when it comes to updating blogs.  As many of you know, my ordination was the first time I wore clericals, so it was my first opportunity to experiment with clergy fashion.

This is about as close as I get to a full body shot.  This is an Express shirt dress that I purchased from a thrift store in Austin for ~$10.  The only tailoring required was cutting off the original collar and adding in button holes to both the front and back of the collar area.  In some situations, others will need to have the actual size of the collar altered depending on the size of the person's neck.  Thankfully, I'm a size 16, which is the natural neck size on this shirt dress.  If you add in a ~$10-15 tailoring fee, this still only comes out to ~$20-25, which is a steal for a clerical.

As I mentioned in my previous post, while my posts will mostly be about women's clericals, I love to highlight when men go out of the box with their clericals!  This is a picture of +Joseph P. Mathews and I, in our altered clericals.  We have the exact same style shirt on, except mine is obviously longer, because it is a dress.  Both from Express, both tailored to be clericals.  I think he shows how fun it can be, even for men, to try different styles for clericals.

For the ordination, I wore my clerical dress with silver earrings, black tights that end at the ankle, and black wedges.  Right now, this is the only clerical I have, so I wear it differently every week.  As the weather gets cooler, I've enjoyed wearing it with scarves, thicker tights (both black and gray), and various boots.  I also like to use different jackets and sweaters every Sunday.  Also, a requirement: fun earrings.  I love using fun earrings (in various colors, shapes, etc., but almost always big!) to give color to an otherwise very black outfit.

In time, I hope to get other clericals and take pictures when I wear them differently.  I'm really looking forward to it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

How shall I begin?

On December 21, I'll be ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church.  And so it will begin: the trauma of tying to wear a clergy shirt, yet still look like a woman.  And so, out of this trauma, comes this blog.  What would it look like if a person used their fashion sense and tried to dress up the clericals?  Time to find out...

I'll try to look at things like cost, accessories, and dressing for occasions.  I'll be taking pictures of my outfits, then explaining what event I was attending, where, and what brought on the choices.

What I really intend to do is show one way, out of many, that women can reclaim their bodies in a public space that often discounts them.  While it is a triumph within the Episcopal Church that women are allowed to be priests, I think we have to own that more of our tradition has been masculine than feminine.  The idea of the feminine presence behind the altar, and wearing the collar, is still jarring for some.  Within this feeling of discomfort, add in the discomfort of an ill fitting clergy shirt.

In short, I see this as one way to claim my femininity within a culture that is still often seems more masculine than feminine.  Feel free to follow along as I figure out what it means to wear a collar... and more importantly, what it means to live into my vows.

It all starts December 21, 2011...