Friday, June 10, 2011

On the Great Leggings Debate

In times like these when weighty theological subjects demand to be addressed, I am compelled (and was nudged) step forward and speak my mind. The controversial subject for today is… leggings. In these posts Peacebang and ChaliceSpark debate the appropriateness of leggings for ministers. Since I find myself smack dab in the middle I will roll for a diplomacy check here.

It is passed time that we admit that different standards of dress exist on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the country. What is considered appropriate, or dressy, or formal is not the same in Philadelphia as it is in Portland. (St. Sagan as my witness some people wear Carhardts to the symphony in Alaska.) Broad proclamations about what should be always or never worn need to be considered in that cultural context. If you minister in Texas, cowboy boots are probably appropriate in the pulpit; in Ann Arbor, maybe not so much.

On the subject of leggings, I must say, I am not a fan. In my personal opinion, no one over the age of 20 should be wearing them. As long as they are being worn with long tops, I consider that a matter of personal taste, not one of right and wrong. I mean, they’re not crocs for cryingoutloud. I don’t wear leggings, but if you want to rock them with tunics for casual wear, OK I can live with that. Not everyone looks horrible in them and declaring them forever verboten on everyone is a little silly. I can easily picture a minister in her off time wearing leggings with a short dress and cute boots, and looking lovely. Calf-length leggings under a miniskirt are a blight upon humanity, and no one over the age of 16 can be excused for wearing them. If you choose to do so, I will try my best to look at your lovely face and think nonjudgemental thoughts.

Peacebang has one thing right though, how we present ourselves matters. If you want to encourage respect for yourself or for the service you are leading you cannot wear leggings in a professional context. I want you all to promise you will never conduct a service in leggings unless you are around a campfire. If you choose to do otherwise, please don’t let me know about it. No leggings for board meetings or anything else where you are presenting yourself as a professional minister or lay leader. As for GA, if a convention showed up in my town and they all looked like they just rolled out of bed and slipped on their camping gear and Birkenstocks, it would be difficult to take them seriously. Maybe that’s shallow, but it’s true.

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