Two and a half weeks from today, I'll be starting my new ministries. For the next three months, I'm going to have to dress like a grown up each day. One benefit of being in the Novitiate House is that you're home most days so jeans are a-ok. At the homeless center in London jeans were ok as well, so this will be my first prolonged period of dressing up in a long time.

This morning I went through my closet checking the status of my work-ready wardrobe. It turns out I brought a good bit with me when I came East last year, but I needed a few tops to balance it out. Our schedule today was pretty open and I'd received my February stipend a few days early so off I went to the store ....

... to discover that what counts as fashion these days is not exactly to my taste! Poofy scooped necklines, shapeless or overly shaped silhouettes, and very odd (and loud) patterns. Ugghhh ... I had planned to be more adventurous, but ended up with a black cardigan and two simple black tops. I have loads of skirts and dress pants that they'll work fine with. Even the simple black tops were a little weird for my taste, but the price was right. I suppose I could have shopped around a bit more, but 4 stores was my limit!

I also suppose there are some advantages to wearing a formal habit. We dress simply in our congregation, but I still have to think of what to wear each day! The funny thing is, I usually end up in some form of black! :)


Anonymous said...

Interesting reading :) largely because it's been a question on my mind. I'm considering this profession, but I'm also a bit of a goth, identifying the beauty in the unusual, the signs of hope in loss and decay, the prospect for growth and beauty beyond the pain ... and i wear black partly to symbolise for myself the lack of fear of death, and the embracing of God's love for all things, not just the pretty or the perfect. Ugh too hard to explain here in a comment. But one question i had was around wearing black... and whether it would be ok (prepared to give it up if needed, preference not to).

So yes, interesting to read your comments :)

Anonymous said...

oh... and one more comment/question.

what are the rules around what you wear? I read your post and see you picking and choosing with the current (frightful agreed) fashions....

are there limits - how do you decide what to wear, where the lines are?

I dress simply,but with a certain elan, I'm faiirly young, and very... modern :) I don't see nuns as needing to be frumpy.. and work with youth, who appreciate my approachability and not too dowdy appearance.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...


Thanks for your comments! I think it depends on the community - some may have more formal rules than others.

Our Constitutions simply say: "In keeping with our heritage and mission as religious, we choose to dress simply. As a sign of our vowed commitment we wear a silver ring. We recognize our Peace Cross as a special symbol of identity with the congregation."

I don't have the ring yet - that will (hopefully) come with profession in the Fall. I do wear my Peace Cross every day (and in fact have written about that before).

As to how I "dress simply," that's up to me, common sense, and my budget. I figured that in terms of simplicity, it made the most sense to bring the nicer of my clothes with me to the Novitiate, rather than extravagantly spending money on a new "simple" wardrobe.

Plus, I'm not 80 or 70 or even 60 years old - I'm 35. I think it makes sense for me to dress appropriately for my age and status in life. So for work that's more office oriented, I have my old work wardrobe of mostly black skirts, sweaters, dress pants and jackets. For work that's more people oriented (like when I was at the shelter) or for just hanging around the house, I wear jeans mostly with an assortment of sweatshirts (mostly black), t-shirt and some nicer tops.

The main thing I think is to dress appropriately and not to draw too much attention to oneself. That's how I read "dressing simply."

When I first met the Sisters I went out of the way to dress nicer and to try not to wear so much black. I had the tape running in my head of my mom's comments on my mostly black wardrobe. But eventually, I realized that I like to wear black and it looks nice, so why was I trying to be something I wasn't? I think many of the Sisters ... who had to wear the black of the habit for many years ... don't quite get why I'd rather wear black than a nice bright color, but we all don't have to get each other all the time, do we??

Hope that helps. If you have any other questions that you don't feel like writing on the blog, my e-mail is on the right hand side of the page.