As a pastor, I have had a really hard time with the attire thing. I dress casually for most things. Jeans and a cute top (I try not to wear the random t-shirts if I think I will see other people!) Even for worship I have more people show up in jeans and t-shirts than anything else. My husband is usually the only one who wears a tie. On Easter Sunday we both had on nice suits and everyone looked absolutely shocked because that just isn't the culture of this congregation. But somehow, some way I feel that something is not quite right for me.
Throughout my Divinity School experience, attire came up on multiple occasions. My CPE group (near the end) had a discussion about clothing, particularly wearing skirts. Not super-short skirts, but skirts in general where any leg could be seen. Then there was the discussion of wearing open-toed shoes and how a friend and all her colleagues were forbidden from wearing open-toed shoes to serve communion because a church member complained that seeing a person's toes was distracting. We got a good laugh out of that one because we said that if a person could be distracted by seeing a person's toes while they were taking communion, their minds weren't on the right things to begin with. I agree whole-heartedly.
And yet I find myself fearful of what I wear. I don't want to wear open-toed shoes. I wear more black than anything. I want to set a good example. I want to be professional. I don't want to distract anyone. I want to do what ministers are supposed to do.
While I was at East End, I once wore a pair of gold sequined shoes. They were cute, comfy, and went well with my brightly colored outfit. The pastor made the comment that they were the perfect shoes to be seen peeking out from under a robe. At the time I was shocked at the notion. Since then I have seen lots of great photos of female ministerial gatherings, and in many of them they are all from the knees down. All area usually wearing robes with a zillion different kinds of shoes. Some are basic and practical, but with fun socks. Some are brightly colored. Some have crazy-high heels. Some are sandals. Some are flip-flops! Some are sequined. All are different and all are perfect for their individual wearers. I want to be gutsy enough to wear my sequined shoes to church!
I am committed that, in the next year, I am going to set some new personal and professional boundaries for myself. But within that, I am going to give myself a little more freedom to move and to breathe and to be myself. And this may mean that a pair of sequined flip-flops are in order...