Now I am not an ogre. I would not presume to dictate the style of collar (Roman or Anglican). I have had both but only briefly had an affair with the Roman collar before returning to my first love, the Anglican, full, white collar. I would not presume to tell Pastors they had to wear long sleeves or short sleeves and neither would I insist upon french cuffs over button cuffs. I would not deter those from wearing the rabat in favor a standard, modern style clergy shirt and clerical collar. BUT.. on one issue I would not bend. The color would be black -- plain black shirt or plain black rabat over a white shirt but the appearance would be uniform black.
Now as far as the other clothing, I am really quite moderate and flexible. I do not require only a black suit. Dark navy, gray, and a host of other muted colors are acceptable. I am also quite flexible in allowing the sport coat with appropriate colored slacks -- as long as the sport coat is not LOUD but somewhat muted in color, style, and tone. The point is to look dignified and not to stick out like a sports fan all painted up in his favorite team colors. I do not insist upon wearing clerical attire on the day off but at all other times, I think Pastors should identify themselves as Pastors. Baptists do it by carrying a big floppy Bible and Lutherans do it by wearing appropriate clerical attire.
Pastors are not just one of the guys or just ordinary folks. Pastors are Pastors, stewards of the mysteries of God. If Pastors want to be just one of the guys, resign and open a liquor store or manage a McDonalds. The whole point of being a Pastor is to stick out -- not simply in the words you speak or the role you play but in who you are (in the sense of the Office you bear and not in the sense of personal piety). The uniform identifies you for the Office bestowed upon you by the Church and the least the Church can expect is that you will wear the mark of that Office and hot hide it under a bushel, no?
I have read blogs on the uniforms of choice for some Pastors today (khakis and polos or, for the more rad and emergent folks, tees and
I have read blogs who insist upon only a black suit. They are such neanderthals. God knows that it is not easy to wear black all the time so in this I have become a theological moderate, allowing other muted colors and tones for the suit, slacks and jackets. I could never be that rigid --- as all of you who read this blog know. I am a very open and flexible person with hardly a strong opinion. (Are you groaning yet?)
I have also evolved on this issue. Back when I was young and idealistic I believed that Pastors should wear cassocks all the time. I still recall driving down the road in Ft. Wayne so many years ago and watching a Roman priest playing basketball with the boys on the school yard of the parish school -- in his cassock -- and thinking... Now that is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Okay, so I am rather dull and live a rather dull life and little things like this are way too significant for me. All in all, my point still stands. Dress like the Pastor you are.