Friday 23 July 2021

Catholic Clothing, again

If I lived in an climate-controlled iron box with an internet connection, I would know it was summer from this article in Catholic World Report. I skimmed the article on Catholic clothing (I confess) and then went to the comments to see the usual complaints from women about the focus on female modesty, the usual rejoinder about hot pants, and the sneers at the very well-dressed men, who are accused here of trying to "out-dapper" one another. 

I particularly enjoyed the remark about people looking as if it were 1962, because I have a pet theory that 1963 was the Annus horribilis on which the good ship Western Civilisation foundered. But of course no woman dresses exactly as her grandmother or mother did in 1962 for women's underclothing in 1962 was atrociously uncomfortable. Also, the only trad Catholic woman I know eccentric enough to wear gloves to Mass is me, and only very rarely: to Polish Pretend Son's wedding, for example, and when extra-paranoid about the Vile Germ. 

As it is summer, I usually wear to Mass the blue maxi dress I bought for wear to the Vatican Press Office with sturdy blue shoes (alas) or blue sandals. I object to the idea one cannot wear sandals to Mass, for monks and nuns certainly do. Also, my feet are aging faster than the rest of me, and apparently I can't wear ballet flats. Indeed, even my dowdy comfort shoes did not pass muster with my physiotherapist, who bent them in her hands to show how inadequate they are. 

Naturally I wear a blue denim maxi-skirt of indestructible traddery almost every day now. I'm happy to say I have three: one suitable for wearing in town, one only for the house, and one for gardening and painting. With this I pair a clean T-shirt and, in necessary, a cardigan. 

I felt confirmed in my uniform--which involves, as you see, weekday clothes and a Sunday dress---by reading about the late Latinist Fr. Reggie Foster, OCD. Fr. Foster was known for wearing a strange habit of his own design: a light blue jacket, a turtleneck and denim overalls. He looked like a janitor and was treated like a janitor by those who didn't recognise him and look down on janitors. Although I prefer priests to look like priests, I am still moved by his humility. 

Personally, I'm a bit worried of being treated as though I were insane. As far as I know, this hasn't happened yet. In my usual weekday outfit, while climbing up Fleshmarket Close, I looked warily at a man in a bizarre costume that was half-football fan, half-Viking. He was loud, with a friend, coming down Close and nobody else was around. 

"God bless your day, Sister," he shouted.

Maybe I should go back to wearing lipstick. But if we all stopped wearing lipstick, think of how much money and plastic we would save!


  1. My late Aunt often wore a denim jumper (I mean jumper in the North American sense) over a plain blouse as her regular personal uniform. She was constantly mistaken for a nun in public! I wonder if the wedding ring every threw people.

  2. I'm pleased to learn that there are still people who are polite and respectful to nuns and priests. Given the daily headlines about attacks on Catholic churches, etc., I was starting to wonder if that was gone for good.

  3. I find it funny people don't think sandals are formal enough for mass. Jesus and His disciples would've worn them or been barefoot.

    I think some people take dressing up for mass too seriously. St. Faustina's family was so poor they could only afford one dress for her and her sisters to wear that was deemed good enough. The girls took turns attending Sunday mass with their parents wearing that dress. I think God would've wanted all the girls to be there every week and holy day together instead of most of them staying home.

    I'm not saying to dress immodestly or to show up in your pajamas. (I normally dress at least somewhat formally.) We don't want to judge people though. We don't know their circumstances. The person may not be able to afford nicer clothes or even be homeless. What if they work weird hours like nurses and could only attend mass in their scrubs? What if someone's been away from The Church for a long time or isn't Catholic or Christian? Suddenly The Holy Spirit tugged at their heart inviting them to mass. They didn't plan on it or maybe they didn't have time to go home and change. This could be the start of a conversion or reversion for them. Do you think God would want us to scowl at their clothes?

    1. I don't think God would want us to scowl at their clothes You'd have to have a heart of stone to scowl at anyone who came to Mass in their scrubs or any other work uniform, and I don't think anyone reasonable thinks twice about clothing anyone wears to a weekday Daily Mass as long as modesty is observed (as it should at all times anyway). Meanwhile, I suspect more people take dressing for Mass too casually than the numbers of people who take dressing for Mass too seriously. Of course, that probably changes from place to place, country to country.