On Collars

An important hearing took place in our state today. I was not able to attend, but I am reading comments and thoughts from colleagues who were there, and contemplating collars.

You see, I don't have one.

I've never worn one, or attended a UCC church where the pastor wore a collar, and since I grew up Southern Baptist, that's no help. I don't even know what kind I would wear or what purveyor to patronize.

I would like to be better prepared if the opportunity to wear one as a sign and symbol of office meaningful to the general population should arise again. What are the guiding principles of collar-wearing?

25 thoughts on “On Collars”

  1. My personal preferences for wearing my collar are at protests, lobbying and on communion Sunday (this is personal preference because of my Catholic upbringing).
    God bless you for your support on the above mentioned issues.
    It was great to see you at the BE!
    Peace and love,

  2. DOn’t own one, have no plans to buy one. So I may not be the best to comment.
    I also rarely sign my name “Rev”, although when I do it is either because of some official function or to make a statement.

  3. Don’t get it too tight! 🙂
    May I say that I greatly hope the outcome of the vote will be such that you do want to wear one soon. It would be positively fetching.

  4. I’m looking at the collars on the Women Spirit website. Polyethylene? Surely there is some more natural version. Also, since I am neither Roman nor Anglican, how do I know which one to wear? They did NOT cover this at Andover Newton.

  5. I get my collars from Almy,( the “clericool” version – because they breathe a little better than others. I don’t care for the fabric version – to saggy and baggy looking for my tastes.
    To measure for a collar – using a tape measure wrap it around your neck (or have someone you trust do it for you 🙂 ) and place your index finger between the tape and your skin – the measure of your collar is the length around including your finger. I usually add a half inch additional because I like my collar loose.
    Next you have to decide height of collar – I like 1-1/2 inches over the 1-1/4 inch – but you might prefer a more narrow collar.
    Oh, and while this may not seem obvious, I also prefer the band collar (like Barbara Brown Taylor wears) to the tab collar worn by many Roman Catholic clergy…
    lastly – I like the pivoting teardrop head, long post collar buttons from Almy. The buttons from WomenSpirit are not long enough to go through the collar and the fabric of the blouse and hold everything together…
    I do love the blouses from WomenSpirit – and the “Janey” too – but I get the collars and collar buttons from Almy…
    So. My two cents worth…
    now to go find out what is going on in Maine legislature….

  6. mompriest, what riches! Far more than two cents worth!! I will look at the Almy website.

  7. Mompriest has pretty much covered the shopping territory. You might also ask for collar buttons if you have a religious goods store nearby that caters to a Roman/Anglican crowd.
    Guiding principles? It’s not true of all of my colleagues, certainly; but I wear a collar when I’m “on duty” — which means office hours, Sunday worship, hospital visitation, and anywhere else where my primary role is as priest (This has included a demonstration or two, but those have been rare).
    The tradition of the collar is not actually a representation of authority, though it’s become seen that way. Quite the opposite: it is intended to be reminiscent of a slave’s collar, which is why I wear it– as servant, submitting first to God’s discipline.
    My first spiritual director put her view quite succinctly: “God collars those who should not be running around loose as laypeople.”

  8. I wear a collar more often than not, but I do not wear it because of what others need to or want to see (or not see). I wear a collar because it reminds me who I am.
    I wear it for me, not for anyone else.
    Which makes the comment about “buy it large” kind of superfluous.

  9. Did someone make that comment, R Brabrand? I don’t see it. Perhaps that’s clergy collar humor I don’t get.

  10. I’m partial to Geneva bands because they look really cool. But do you have to be Presbyterian/Reformed to wear them? I wouldn’t know.

  11. I believe the pastor of the Presbyterian church I attended as a little girl wore them, zorra, I always think of him when I see a picture of them. There’s at least one youngish Unitarian in New England wearing them, I’ve seen his picture in recent years.

  12. Mompriest and Jane Ellen said it well on all counts. And (just like wearing a cross) I also wear it to remind me what I’m about.
    FWIW, wearing a collar has opened the doors for some great conversations that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
    And you can get real linen collars from Whipple. Having to starch them is more than I care to undertake at this point, but I have a friend who swears by them.

  13. I have one clergy shirt “just in case” and it is a tab collar because it was cheaper than the other kind. It also was available at the local denominational bookstore where I could try it on. In previous places of ministry, I wore a collar more than I have here but I like having at least one in the closet. I guess that makes me a closeted-collar wearer 🙂

  14. Dont have a collar, but I do have a button that someone gave me during WTO (went to seminary during WTO protests in Seattle) that says “PASTOR” in big orange letters. Before I actualy WAS a pastor, you know, but I liked to wear it then.
    Anyway, since then, I’ve never found a use for it, except for one time at our church carnival when we thought the neighbors might want to see who “that new young lady pastor we’ve heard so much about” might be. So, it’s not really come in handy all that often, but I do keep it with me, just in case.

  15. A closeted collar wearer, ha!
    I clearly have no substantive knowledge of this topic, but I like clergy collars and really do think you would be smashing in one.
    Now I’ll stop commenting!

  16. I knew one minister who made his own out of cardboard or white plastic (washing-up liquid bottles, I believe).
    Our first woman minister used to wear her collar with an ordinary shirt, or even with a jersey – she made sort-of buttonholes to insert it into the neck thereof. It worked!
    Most clergy I know wear their collar when appropriate (at worship, funerals &c, and when on official business), but not necessarily all the time.

  17. I wear my collar for weddings, hospital chaplaincy, and you bet at progay protests and other places where it’s valuable to show that all Christians and clergy aren’t narrow minded.
    I have special fondness for what may be the first nursing clergy blouses in the world, which I had made when I was ordained and Ladybug was small. They felt like a celebration of my rather unique vocation. (They now make women’s styles, and there may be a maternity one somewhere, but I have never seen a nursing one). I took bright cheerful material that I liked and a pattern for a nursing blouse to a seamstress and had her put a small vertical buttonhole at the center of the front and back for the studs for an Anglican collar. You can do the same with any high necked collarless blouse and even do it yourself if you are sewing gifted and not sewing challenged like yours truly.
    I have both Anglican and Roman kinds–the former I find prettier with all that white around the face, and the latter with tab collar a lot more comfortable. There are also “janeys”–or dickeys if you get men’s–some of them soft and comfy which you can put under a nice black (or sometimes white) t-shirt or blouse. Did that with a black nursing shirt as well.
    If you buy the men’s kind in a smaller size you can often find a bargain one on the web. Womenspirit is lovely but pricey. My bishop-purple tab collar shirt is the smallest men’s size, from Autom–an awesome catalog and website with a bunch of vestments and other things, some very inexpensive. Since it’s RC they don’t make women’s sizes but they were nice to us in the retail store in Phoenix if you ever get back–they were doing inventory when I was there with an ordinand but like the importunate widow we banged on the window and begged to try stuff on for fit and to order later (she was getting an alb and I the purple shirt) and they cheerfully let us in.

  18. Not as if you needed more input, but I’m with Jane Ellen+. In our tradition, collars are normal but not required, and you find people who wear them every single day and those who won’t even wear them on Sundays when leading worship.
    My personal rule is to listen to my instinct tell me when my office should be acknowledged. Not, as Jane Ellen put it, as an authority, but as a public servant, much the same as a police officer or judge. It also keeps me in check: I’m much more careful about my words and my actions when I’m easily identifiable as the spiritual leader of a congregation.

  19. my goodness… i wear my collar when i am presiding at worship; attending an ordination; doing a funeral; baptisms (which always happen in worship); and weddings… i gave up wearing ’em to weaddings. sometimes if i have time to change before the reception… i’ll wear the collar for the service and then change.
    i prefer the anglican collar myself… just aesthetically i think it looks better on a woman and fits with separates or suits so easily. womenspirit i swear by their stuff… that’s the only place i’ll go… but even then a gals’ gotta avoid the “dowdy” factor. shop wisely SB!

  20. Our new incoming female pastor wore a collar to the ‘trial sermon’ and I was quite surprised. I like it, but had never seen a UCC pastor wear one. Her hubby said she uses cuff links to fasten it. Interesting! Good luck finding cuff links!

  21. well.
    I LOVE collars.
    But rarely wear one, except to protests or sometimes to a nursing home–sorta like Godgurrl. Except I did wear one during our Clown Service. Pastah Clown, I guess.
    When I was presbyterian, I did wear one that was a “dicky” that velcro-ed in the back–but only under my robe on Sundays. And to the nursing home when I would do funerals there, on campus.
    Although rare, I do know some UCC people who wear collars all the time. A little weird to me, but hey. Guess that’s why we are UCC!!
    I did buy a swish Women Spirit blouse with the 3/4 sleeves to have for emergencies, especially of the kind where I am expected to be pastor to my family in the midwest. I was an officiant at my nephew’s funeral, which was at an ultra conservative non-women ordaining church, so I wore my velcro collar…to remind me whose servant I was…and to claim that in a context that was a little uncomfortable for me.
    More than what you asked for, huh!
    Go shopping!!!!!
    p.s. GO MAINE!!!

  22. Karla, that’s a great point. If I ever had to represent back home in Virginia, a collar wouldn’t hurt. Which blouse did you get?
    Thanks to all of you for the input, I appreciate it!

  23. I only have one collared shirt…a denim one that was on clearance at Cokesbury. I was inspired by a story that RealLivePreacher tells in an essay about the denim clergy shirt that he owns, and figured what the heck.
    I’ve only worn it once…just on a whim to make a hospital call and see how it felt. I did note and have often reflected upon the increase in smiles and acknowledgements that I received from passersby that day.

  24. The only few times I have ever worn a collar were to hospital visits and funerals. I am young and they were during my pregnancy, so admittedly I wore it mostly to denote my authority as pastor. Otherwise, in this small, southern town with no other female pastors it would never occur to people that’s why I’m there. (And I know this can be true for women no matter where they are or what age they are.)
    I prefer the Anglican as well, for some of the reasons stated above, but also because it is a bit more obvious on a woman than the tab style. Plus, with a couple of cleverly placed buttons, any button-up shirt can become a clergy shirt and still go back to a ‘civy’ shirt when not using the collar with it!

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