Clothing consultant John T. Molloy, who has advised more than 450 corporations on how their executives should dress, is now studying clothes worn by clerics.
The author of "Dress for Success," in an interview with Church Business newsletter, says the clergy should dress to reflect authority. This is doubly true for women to "gain greater acceptance in this traditionally male vocation," Molloy says.
Four outfits are essential for the well dressed pastor, Mr. Malloy says:
1. Business Power suit. This is a dark pinstripe suit worn with a white shirt and a solid or nondirection design tie. "This outfit," the article states, "should be worn for important meetings when you want to meet businessmen on their level, but on your terms."
2. Counseling Outfit. Molloy says that when clergy soften the "high authority" image, the individual being counseled responds better. For this, Mr. Molloy suggests wearing a sweater over an open-collar white shirt. He says this dress can be used effectively by Roman Catholic and Episcopal priests "who tend to look especially powerful in black suits and white collars."
3. Dress-up Social Outfit. He states that if the pastor does not wear a clerical uniform and must look fairly formal, a beige or tweed suit is formal enough yet "approachable." Molloy warns, "stay away from business suits."
4. Pulpit-Authority Outfit.Molloy says that clergy uniforms (robes, vestments) are best for this, but that clergy can "create" this pulpit-authority look. For this he suggests a dark blue suit, white shirt and maroon tie before a lower-middle-class congregation, and a dark grey suit, white shirt and maroon tie before upper-middle-class congregations.
Molloy says that established clergy can get away with less authoritative dress. However, younger clergy need to dress more formally because "no matter how marvelous a miniter he is, he's skill 'a kid to the 60-year-old parishioner."
For all speakers, Molloy suggests garb that contrasts with the background of the room. He also suggests avoiding patterns that blur at a distance and recommends wearing bold, contrasting colors "to draw attention to yourself."