The Dress Down: The Ongoing Informality of Church Service

The focus on clerical surplices has shifted in recent years as the CofE announced in July 2017 that vicars would not be required to wear formal robes and vestments to conduct service. The C of E’s ruling body, the synod, meeting in York, gave its final approval to a change in canon law on “the vesture of ordained and authorised ministers during the time of divine service”. Traditional clerical robes date back centuries, but the rules have been increasingly ignored – especially in churches with modern, informal styles of worship. Whilst the decision to relax the mandatory wearing of vestments may seem like the death of traditional service, it also shows the growth and evolution of the church to continue to adapt to the changing world and encouraging younger generations to engage and attend a more contemporary form of service.

The synod ruled that clergy could adopt different forms of dress, with the agreement of their parochial church council. Where there is disagreement, the bishop of the diocese will have the final say. The clergy are currently still required to wear traditional robes – a surplice or alb with scarf or stole – when taking communion or conducting one-off services such as weddings, funerals or baptisms, unless consent is obtained from the principal participants.

Clerical shirts have become the most commonly form of utilised apparel for conducting service. Whilst it conveys ancient elements of the church’s tradition, it also combines it with a more modern aesthetic for a required relevance in society and cultural. Certain elements of church apparel has been deemed culturally improper due with a senior clergyman in the C of E urging bishops to stop wearing mitres – decorative pointed hats, which neatly fold when not in use – because they are an “unhelpful and unnecessary” symbol of power.

The Hammond and Harper Clerical Clip-In Shirt Range (pictured left) was developed in direct alignment with the evolution of clerical vestment needs as it is a combination of religious tradition and the forthcoming progression of the clerical image. These shirts are come in a range of patterns and its ingenuity comes from the collar attachment, which is held into place by studs underneath the collars. This allows the collar to be clipped in and out during service and quickly removed to allow for a more classic shirt look. As the evolution of clerical apparel continues, we strive to provide our customers with high quality and innovative products for their convenience.

You can view our full range of clerical clip-in shirts by clicking here.