Clerical clothing is non-liturgical clothing worn exclusively by clergy. It is distinct from vestments in that it is not reserved specifically for services. Practices vary: clerical clothing is sometimes worn under vestments, and sometimes as the everyday clothing or street wear of a priest, minister, or other clergy member. In some cases, it can be similar or identical to the habit of a monk or nun.
In Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism, a useful distinction between liturgical vestments and clerical clothing is that vestments are required to be blessed before being worn. Conversely, clerical clothing is not, and is regarded as daily wear.
- Inner Cassock: The inner cassock (more commonly, simply Cassock) is a floor length garment, usually black, worn by all clergy members, monastics, and seminarians.
- Outer Cassock: Called a Ryasa (Russian: ряса) or Exorason, the outer cassock is a large, flowing garment worn over the inner cassock by bishops, priests, deacons, and monastics.
- Skufia: A soft-sided cap worn by monastics or awarded to clergy as a mark of honor.
- Kamilavka: A stiff hat worn by monastics or awarded to clergy as a mark of honor.
- Apostolnik: A veil worn either by nuns, either alone or with a Skufia.
- Epanokamelavkion: A veil extending over the back, worn with the Kamilavka by all monastics and bishops.
- Klobuk: A Kamilavka with an Epanokamelavkion permanently attached; more common in the Russian tradition.
In 1215, a church council made it mandatory for all the Christian clergy to wear a distinctive dress. Its purpose was not necessarily to elevate the status of the Christian clerics; it was intended that they would catch the public eye if any member of the clergy is seen on the street.
- Cassock: A long-sleeved, hoodless garment most often made of lightweight black fabric. Cassocks are generally ankle-length.
- Clerical collar: There are a variety of options for daily clerical attire, all involving the use of a clerical collar:
- Collarino: This is probably the most common type of shirt and collar among Roman Catholic clergy. It resembles a standard dress shirt, but has a standing black collar that is sewn to accommodate a white cloth or soft plastic insert, leaving a small white square at the base of the throat.
- Neckband: A collarless shirt (similar to a banded collar shirt) tailored to accommodate a strip of linen or plastic that, when worn over the shirt, creates a standing white collar that rings the neck. This detachable collar is fastened with collar stays or buttons. These shirts and detachable collars were originally intended to be worn underneath a waistcoat, rabat, or cassock. Today these shirts are almost invariably black poly-cotton, but when worn under a waistcoat or rabat are usually white and made of a higher quality oxford cotton weave.
- Clerical waistcoat or rabat: Clerical waistcoats or rabats are the most traditional and formal item of clerical costume. They are almost always black and are made of worsted wool. Clerical waistcoats generally sport silk backing. They are worn over a neckband shirt and a detachable collar to create a cassock-like appearance about the neck. Unlike the waistcoats that accompany suits, they button all the way to the collar. The rabat is a late innovation, and exactly mirrors the clerical waistcoat, except that it is backless.
In Rome, Roman Catholic clergy are permitted to wear black, grey, and blue clerical shirts, while in the United States they are permitted to wear only black, quite likely because of long-standing custom.
Anglicanism began to shed its adherence to Protestant ideals in the nineteenth century. During that period it was the fashion among gentlemen to wear a detachable collar which was washed and starched separately from the shirt. Initially with the detachable collar, Anglican clergy wore a white cravat,later a white bow tie, with a waistcoat with a standing collar and a loose clerical frock coat resembling a knee length cassock with multiple buttons to waist level. Alternatively they could wear the normal style of gentleman's frock coat and a rabat (See above).In the middle of the century Anglican ministers began turning the collar around backwards, creating the first versions of the "dog collar". This form of distinctive dress was seen as a controversial affectation of the high church party, but as time progressed the collar-turned-backwards became more common, and even survived the demise of detachable collars among the general public. Though black waistcoat has given way to black shirt, the collar has become a daily part of clerical costume for most Anglican ministers. However, some Anglican clergy join with ministers of reformed churches in eschewing distinctive clerical costume entirely.. During the 20th century Anglican bishops began wearing purple (officially violet) shirts as a sign of their office. Along with the pectoral cross and episcopal ring, this marks them off from other clergy in appearance. While there is no law among the churches of the Anglican Communion that prevents other members of the clergy from wearing a purple shirt, to do so is generally not considered appropriate.
Traditionally, Anglican clergy regularly wore the cassock in public, although this is less common. The traditional Anglican headwear with the cassock was the Canterbury cap, which is now seldom used. Some Anglo-Catholic clergy still wear the Biretta. Bishops and archdeacons traditionally wore a shortened version of the cassock, called an apron (which hung just above the knee), along with gaiters. The gaiters, buttoned up the side, would cover the trouser leg to a point just below the knee. This form of everyday vesture, common up until the 1960s, is now almost extinct.
Anglican clergy typically favour a double-breasted cassock (known as a Sarum), often with an external button at chest level on which to hook an academic hood (which is worn as part of the choir habit). Clergy of a more Anglo-Catholic persuasion however often favour a cassock similar to Roman Catholic clergy. Single breasted cassocks of other designs are also sometimes used. Like Roman Catholic clergy, some Anglican clergy wear the fascia (known within Anglicanism as a cincture) around the waist, while others prefer a belt.
Clergy of the royal peculiars, senior chaplains to the forces, members of the Chapels Royal and Honorary Chaplains to the Queen may wear a scarlet cassock and a special badge (Queen's cypher surmounted by St Edward's crown surrounded in oak and laurel leafs) on their scarf.
and a Lutheran bishop might wear
In the UK Methodist church, a minister often wears a simple business suit with a coloured shirt and clerical collar. For communion (in Methodism, more usually called "the Lord's Supper") and other services, he or she may sometimes wear a cassock, perhaps with bands. For the most formal occasions, such as the (British) Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in London, a traditional black Geneva preaching gown, academic hood and bands may be worn.
Methodist Deacons (male or female) have a less strict dress code; but they often wear dark blue clothing, and always wear the cross of their religious order.
The dress of those lay members of the congregation who sing in the choir, and of the organist, varies from congregation to congregation. A typical costume might be a blue cassock, English-style plain white surplice, and for women a canterbury cap.
Dress in the United Methodist Church differs from the British norms.
- Dress of Roman Catholic Clergy
- Why Clergy Should Wear Clericals
- "Clerical Costume". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04419b.htm.
- Clerical Attire According to the Byzantine Tradition
- Instructions for attaching and wearing neckband collars
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