Sunday, April 13, 2008


The limited wardrobe of the priest.

On my new blog I mentioned I wanted to work on some designs for priests to wear - just for fun of course. It seems to me most of the younger and newly ordained priests wouldn't be caught dead without their clerics. While lay Catholics seem to prefer priests dressed as priests - especially in cases of emergency - so they can recognize the priest from the ordinary man on the street. Younger priests are also very willing to go about town in their cassocks now days as well - as if the world is now following Vatican etiquette - and I like it. I was watching the news the other night and there I saw Fr. Joseph Johnson visiting Mary Jo Copeland in downtown Minneapolis wearing a cassock. How cool is that?
Some priests still go out of uniform on their days off - sweatshirts and jeans and no shaving. Men love not to shave and to wear beat up clothes. Some people at the religious goods company I once worked for used to comment about priests coming in without clerical clothing. I found that a bit narrow. Having said that, there is a growing number of priests who would never do that - but do they have to wear a suit or a cassock all of the time? I don't think so. Which is why I'm doodling some ideas around.
Casual -
#5) Black Sweatshirt (or sweater) with layered collar. The collars are sewn onto the sweatshirt/sweater. The under collar is white, middle collar is black with a notch opening to reveal the white, both sewn onto the ribbed collar of the sweater. Paired with black stone-washed denim jeans, brown leather belt and hiking boots. (I like brown and black.)
Dress -
#2) The black traditional cassock deserves decent outerwear. I did a long, full trench which stops about 6 inches from the hem of the cassock. The trench coat is constructed of soft black microfiber with a contrasting french khaki lining. Extra wide collar and belted (not shown). No capes. Not on the street.
I might continue with this, I might not. Then again - I might design some nun's habits.


  1. You're like Clinton of "What Not To Wear" LOL!
    I can't wait to see the habits!

  2. Bravo. The key word is "limited." In a monastery it's all so simple: a tunic, a scapular, a cincture, and a cuculla (cowl) for choir and solemn occasions. Outside a monastery, it gets a little more complicated, especially for the diocesan priest.

    A priest whom I admire made the decision after his ordination that he would buy only black clothes: even black jeans, sweatshirts, sweaters, etc. One can wear a collar with anything black. Obviously, there is the "de rigueur" black suit and the cassock. Goes without saying. And the biretta for the diocesan priest tops things off rather nicely.

    For a time, after "The Council," some monks experimented with monastic hooded shirts in grey, blue, and beige. They have pretty much disappeared. The traditional monastic habit made a comeback, and is here to stay.

    Then there is the shaved head versus hairy head debate. Let's not even go there! What a cultural minefield!

  3. I agree. Priests should be allowed to wear more than their uniforms. Casual attire is okay. But on occasions related to their vocation, the priestly uniform should be the selected attire.

    Jesuit Michael Heller, when accepting the Templeton Prize, wore a suit and tie. Why???


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