Clergy Dress Review

Post Author: Molly Field James

There is a great divide in my closet. There are the conservative, mostly black and white and shades of grey professional clothes that go with my black clergy shirts and white collars. And there are the more colorful, fun dresses, sweaters, tops and blue jeans that I wear when I am off duty. While a few colorful jackets, sweaters or skirts occasionally do double duty and have been seen on a Sunday morning or at an evening meeting, it is rare. And while I don’t consider myself a paragon of fashion or particularly trendy, I have felt chic and trendy in some of my off-duty clothes. I never thought I would use the word “chic” to describe something that involved my collar. That is until one of Camille Daley’s dresses arrived on my doorstep.

Like many of my fellow women clergy, I have frequently complained about the poor choices we have when it comes to official garb – it is shapeless and ill fitting – designed for some mythical woman who I have never met and I am pretty sure does not exist. I have made do with janies and t-shirts or modified black blouses from Target or Old Navy. While those solutions have allowed me to have something that is somewhat tailored or at least a bit more fitting than most clergy blouses, they are still not ideal, and I wouldn’t call them trendy.

The dress that arrived on my doorstep was a knee-length dress, and I love it. For the first time I actually had my collar on AND felt chic. It is comfortable and fun. It comes with a tab collar, but I found I could also wear it with a full collar (see picture). Best of all it is machine washable and does not wrinkle. I just pulled it out of a suitcase and it looks perfect.

While I know this dress (or its variations) may not be for everyone, take comfort that there are fashion minded people out there seeking to provide us clergy women with trendy comfortable clothes. House of Ilona will soon be offering a line of clergy shirts as well. Camelle (owner/designer) is also interested in creating what we want, so if there is something particular you would like, please be in touch with her through her website. She would love to have our feedback!

And if you decide to order from her, let her know you are a member of TYCWP and she will donate a percentage of her sales back to the Project.

Photo Credit: Molly Field James

Molly Field James is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Connecticut. She serves as Secretary of the Diocese and as a Sunday only priest for the Middlesex Cluster. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Hartford Seminary and St. Joseph’s College. Her husband, Reade, is a mechanical engineer, and they have a daughter Katherine who was born in October of 2010. In addition to ministry and education, Molly loves cooking, reading, films and spending time in the splendor of God’s Creation.

5 replies
  1. Betsy Tesi
    Betsy Tesi says:

    Thanks, Molly! I like it! I had a clergy dress once, but it wasn’t made by someone who understood clergy or women’s clothes, so it looked like a very nice sack. This looks well fitted and cute. I could see it with boots and a sweater…Can’t wait ti see the rest of her line.

  2. erin
    erin says:

    The sleeve look “puffy” on top on the website – but not in your picture. Can you speak to the poufy-ness of the sleeves? 🙂

    • Molly James
      Molly James says:

      Apologies for delay in responding! There is a little roundness to the sleeves, but I have not found them to be particularly poufy.

  3. Jadaa Lewis
    Jadaa Lewis says:

    I agree wholeheartedly I want to look good when I stand before the Lord and congregation…Make more styles and please keep me informed. Thank you!!!

  4. Elin Dapo
    Elin Dapo says:

    I like that dress, might try it! In Swedenwe have som really nice stretchy shirts for clergy women:, also has a nice stretchy shirt that’s great for wearing under. Have a look if you haven’t seen it already!


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