Looking the Part

I heard that Anne Lamott once told an audience full of pastors that her most imperative advice to them was to wear pants that fit. At the time, that sounded easy enough. But I just returned home from the mall, empty-handed, after an unsuccessful attempt to get some "grown-up" clothes. Yes, Thoreau (or was it Emerson?) remarked that one should be suspicious of any event that requires new clothes. This transition from graduate student to (hopefully) gainfully employed pastor is bugging me out in more ways than one, and the fact that I suddenly don't know how to dress myself isn't helping.

When people think "pastor," they don't necessarily picture me: young and female with a nose piercing. Conversations regarding the teensy stud in my nose abound lately, and everyone has an opinion. Some people think I should take it out, lest I be immediately dismissed by a potential employer. My Ma says absolutely leave it in- and she wasn't particularly enthused when I had it done. I want to think that people will accept me as is, but then I look in the mirror and in my closet, and the nagging fear that not looking the part means not getting the part returns.

Hence the trip to the mall, with a mission to buy a conservative-but-not-frumpy suit. One combo made me look like Tony Bennett. Another smacked of 1995-era Hillary. There just isn't a lot that fits into the realm of conservative-but-not-frumpy. There are ridiculous juniors suits with gaudy patterns and not enough fabric. There are scratchy polyester pantsuits that make me look like I am playing dress up as Career Barbie.

There are much more important things to be doing than agonizing over blazers. But I feel like this is sort of inevitable, given my age and gender. I walked by the men's section today and had this pang of envy for the simplicity of men's suits and ties. People pay more attention to women's appearances. When the first female Episcopal bishop was ordained, a reporter commented on her nail polish.

And I think I can pull off a nose piercing? Ooohwee.

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