Being the Pastor’s Wife means you’re under a microscope of sorts, especially if your husband is the Pastor in a small town. I remember having a conversation with one of my dear friends whose husband is an officer in the Marines about wardrobe and how we as wives portray our husbands. It’s a sad reality, but it’s true. She said that when she’s out in public on base, she has to make sure she’s not dressed in her gym clothes or even her pajama bottoms. I thought it was silly, until I realized that it’s the same thing for me now. Society sees us wives as representatives of our husbands and so we must at the least dress the part, not to mention act the part (another post in the future).
This has been a big adjustment to me as most of my days now are spent at home, so I rarely get “dressed” unless I know that I’m going to be out and about. I typically can be seen at my house in shorts and a t-shirt, sometimes even just gym shorts and yoga pants. Now that I’m pregnant again, and I’m mourning the idea of wearing maternity clothes again, at least for the moment, I really just want to wear yoga pants and t-shirts all the time.
Since 2006 I have worked in a church setting that prided itself on “come as you are” style of worship, meaning we encouraged people to wear whatever they want. Although on staff for many years, if I felt like wearing jeans to church, I did. If I felt like dressing up, I did. If I felt like wearing shorts & a youth t-shirt (as a youth leader), I did. When I took the position at the church in Charlotte, I both wore a robe when I was leading worship (meaning what I wore didn’t matter all that much) and I was pregnant so I was in maternity clothes for most of my time there. After we left the staff positions, the church where we worshipped for several months was very much “come as you are” in that even the pastor wore jeans on most Sundays, so we could wear whatever we wanted. This came in handy to me since most of my clothes were in storage (pending the move to KY) and being post-baby I wore khaki shorts and a cute top for Easter Sunday.
Right now the weather is early Fall weather, meaning that it might be very cold when you leave the house but by the time church is over, it’s nice and warm. This makes wardrobes quite the challenge, especially when there is the very real possibility that you will be wearing your son at some point during the service since it’s his nap time. This past Sunday I decided on a maxi-dress and short sweater, then realized that my feet would be cold in sandals so I put on my pink Toms. Yes, I chose to wear Toms to church. The outfit worked well together, but I kept thinking…I’m the pastor’s wife and I’m wearing Toms to church. But hey, then again I thought, at least we’re all dressed, fed and out the door on time without a stinky diaper or any major food wearings this morning. It’s a trade-off, right?
One of the younger congregants came up to me and actually thanked me for wearing my Toms to church on Sunday since she was wearing hers. She said that if the preacher’s wife was doing it, then she felt better about doing it herself.
It got me thinking…since when did we become so stuck on what we wear for church? Isn’t the purpose of worship to focus on God and not each other or ourselves? Don’t we “robe” our choir and our Pastors so that the focus is on what they are delivering rather than what they are wearing? (On a side note, one thing I love about my husband as Pastor is that he chooses not to wear a robe on Sundays, rather he wears slacks with a shirt and a stole.)
In seminary we ladies were always discouraged from wearing anything red while in the pulpit, especially if it was going to be visible even while wearing the robe. Yet, the gentlemen could wear bow ties and bright ties if they wanted, which were still visible under the robe. Why is what a woman wears such a hot topic of conversation?
Wardrobe is something that I struggle with on a day-to-day basis because I tend to think about as we buy clothes for Luke and on the rare times that I go shopping now. I do feel that Luke needs to be dressed better than his normal rompers for Sundays since he is in the spotlight as well. Despite the reality that he will probably drool all over the clothes, he’s crawling all over the floors and when we eat, he gets food and milk/juice all over his shirts, too, I still feel that he should be dressed in his “Sunday best” for church each week. And of course, on the days he does go to school, he’s in his cuter rompers than when we stay at home the other days of the week. I do want to seem put together, even if it is only in the outfit Luke, hubby or I are wearing.
Why are appearances so important to us as a society? If we don’t dress well enough we’re talked about it, and if we over-dress we’re talked about as well. We’ve seen during the political conventions that the candidate’s wives were critiqued for their wardrobes, even down to the amount of money each spent on the clothes. I’m afraid that we focus so much on what others wear, and even what we wear ourselves, because we are insecure and uncomfortable with ourselves. I know that for me, trying to make sure we all look put together is part of my insecurity of not seeming like I have a handle on myself and my role as mom. Now that I’m the Pastor’s wife, I feel somewhat insecure about my ability to appropriately represent my husband, so one way that I feel I can do it fairly well is in how I dress…even if “just be yourself” really does mean jeans and a t-shirt…on a Sunday morning.
What are your thoughts about wardrobe, representing yourself and others, and how to dress for worship?