I thought of all this as I read an article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph about a model wearing a look-alike habit of Saint Mary of the Cross (Australia's first saint) while her torso was scantily clad, that was reportedly featured in the 'Gentleman's magazine' - 'Zoo Weekly'.
The Catholic Church was obviously in uproar over the six pages of articles and 'tasteless' poses. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Sydney said : "The Zoo Weekly's Mary MacKillop spread is not only an insult to her legacy, but it is also demeaning to all Australian women." (www.dailytelegraph.com.au/specials/mary-mackillop/holy-storm-over-tasteless-mary-tribute-in-zoo-weekly/story-fn6qd4pl-1225941413188)
I might agree with this sentiment, but nevertheless I thought of many instances where appropriate clothing is important.
I can recall visiting the CMS (Church Missionary Society) bookshop in Bathurst Street, Sydney, in the early 1980s. There was a clergy garment section in the shop promoting a variety of clergy shirts in various colours (including Bishop pink) and a variety of clergy and academic 'robes'.
As I was an Industrial Chaplain at that time, serving at Shell Australia on behalf of the InterChurch Trade and Industry Mission (ITIM) two days a week, I purchased a couple of 'blue clergy shirts' with appropriated 'clergy white collar clips' and I wore these often.
In those days I would be at Shell's Clyde Refinery entry gate by 6.30am on my two days each week, showing myself to everyone driving in, that I was on-site that day. All the workers on those shifts would recognise the blue clergy shirt and white collar, and comment that they knew I was there.
But keeping up with appropriate fashion, too, is important in our society. My wife Delma has attended many a fund-raiser fashion parade or 'wedding-dress evening' run by local churches, where the ladies sported their prized fashion possession to each other. These were fantastic nights and enjoyed by all.
I recall when living in Moruya two of my high school aged daughters worked part time for 'E's Fashions' and both did fashion parades for "E". With a wife and three daughters who regularly shopped at her boutique, my comment to "E" was that my family is either 'selling or buying' at your shop!
So all this got me wondering, that perhaps a 'church workers' fashion parade might not be such a bad idea.
There could be several sections. There could be a 'clergy section' for the variety of clergy shirts and gowns in a variety of sizes, remembering that many clergy are a little portly. I feel that I'd be a good candidate as a model as I have a clergy gown, and academic 'hood', all in a larger size.
Many Pentecostal pastors wear very fashionable shirts, some without any sort of collar at all, and these too would be modelled.
Women clergy too would also have their attire modelled; this of course varies more than the men, as there is less of a history of the type of fashion that is appropriate. I could imagine that it would vary from quite masculine pants-suits to tailored skirts and tops, to those who prefer the 50s-style make-up and jewellery. Women's shoes too, depending on the 'women's clergy tradition', from steel capped shoes to fashionable high heels.
Clergy might also have their motor vehicles there on show, as a major component of clergy activities is driving from appointment to appointment. Depending on the funding arrangements in their Church or Mission, you may find everything from the 1980s clunker to an almost-new sedan or station wagon to a large 4WD (either as a status symbol or perhaps more honestly, for those with missions or parishes covering large areas of Australia's notoriously bad roads), to more fashionable sports cars, or even for some high up in the hierarchy of some Churches, maybe a chauffeured limousine.
The fashion writers would have a field day.
Another section could be attire for youth group leaders. There would undoubtedly be the range from conservative dress (although today, 'conservative' for young people means jeans and tee-shirts), right through to sandals and board shorts (if warm) or simple track suits (if cold).
If this hypothetical parade were to be held where I live at Tweed Heads near the beach, we could even have a parade of the youth leaders' beach attire; or the Church Guild ladies' in their favourite sun hats.
Yes, fashion parades can be fun; and fashion can reveal more about a person and their profession, than we care to admit.