I am to be ordained as a deacon in the cathedral in Charleston on 29 November, and as a priest at St Mary Church in Greenville on 14 December. So I have been shopping around for clerical clobber. This is obviously a niche market, and not a shopping spree for the faint hearted. What does a new clergyman at my stage in life wear? Shall it be a polyester alb, polyester wool mix? Should it be a front opening, across the shoulder number or an over the head, complete with an amice with bands? Do we want lace, embroidery or puritanical plain?
Who can say what mysteries lie within the clerical outfitters catalogues? What about clergy shirts? The practical button up the front, slip in the little piece of plastic job, or do we go with rabats, vests and dickies? Do we have shirts with detachable collars? Shall they be plastic or will my wife scrub, iron and starch real linen collars? Somehow I think not.
And what about hats? Can I carry off a biretta with style? Could I wear one of those broad brimmed ‘almost a cowboy hat’ numbers like Chesterton’s Fr. Brown wears? Just what does a bald headed priest wear when its cold? I used to wear a French beret, but will that receive jeers here in America where France is not best loved? Do they make black ball caps? If so, what team has black in their uniform? It had better be the Angels.
What are your thoughts on clerical gear? What do you like to see your priest wearing?