Monday, February 22, 2010

Note from Maker of the "What Not to Wear" Sportsbra Collar

I invited the owners of "Spiritual Apparel", the new company who makes the sportsbra/clerical collar seen on What Not to Wear to tell us a little about them and their product. Here is their reply.

Six Months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Emily, a young Episcopalian Priest who was submitted as a makeover target for the TLC Television Show "What Not to wear." As a stylist on the show, my job was to help her create a balanced wardrobe that would serve her needs as a professional woman of the clergy and as a twenty-something single girl … easy, right?

As we worked on the makeover, our greatest challenge became how to dress over the Clergy Janie or Shirt that Emily wears for work. All I came across were ill-fitting Clerical shirts or dickeys made of scratchy uniform material, and I soon discovered that functional clerical collars of good quality, and that work with contemporary fashion, were not something easily found. I was baffled.

The only solution I saw was to create a custom-tailored collar that would be suitable for a woman of the clergy. Clothing is not only about how you represent yourself to the world, it’s about how you are choosing to feel in your clothes. The role of a woman in the church is very important, and her collar and vestments should represent that. So, I designed a collar with a fit in mind specifically for a woman that would work as an ideal base layer to work with various modern blouses. It also needed to be comfortable, with a quality fabric that feels good against the skin of the neck. And from the stories I heard about the existing Janie’s and Clerical collar dickeys out there, it needed to be easy to wear -- meaning no fuss, no fidgeting, no re-tucking or adjusting.

The Collar turned out beautifully, and the makeover a success. Soon after her friends started contacting me to request their own custom collar, I realized the significant need for female clerical garments that are both functional and able to blend with a stylish wardrobe. So with such positive response, I decided to make the collar available to women everywhere, by creating

Who was one of our first customers? Emily. She wanted another collar: "I ordered another one after my WNTW appearance, because they are made of incredibly high-quality fabric (meaning, no fading, very little wear, no itching) and the fit is perfect (meaning, no bunching). You really just need one, and it will last you for a long time! I've had mine for almost 4 months now, and it looks brand new."

Yes, our collars a bit more expensive then what you are used to spending, but consider a few things. First, when you wear a single garment that is the basis of your career wardrobe, shouldn’t it be something of a fine quality, that you feel comfortable in, and looks great? Second, each collar is also tailor-made according to your individual measurements using high quality fabrics that are a blend of suiting weight wool with stretch --to guarantee that you will be able to move and work comfortably. Third, you will know in good conscience that each collar is handmade to order using fair labor practices and free trade. And lastly, it's a good investment: this collar will last you a long, long time.

We are a small but growing company and are learning more everyday from women around the world who write to us through our website about the daily wardrobe challenges of clerical garments. We find it so shocking that it’s been such an overlooked need! There is no reason that women in this day and time should have to struggle to dress to do the same work as a man. is looking forward to offering you full clerical shirts & other vestments, and continuing to make a difference in how you can pursue your work while looking great.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"What Not to Wear" collar on sale. . .for an arm and a leg.

Many of you may have joined the What Not to Wear watching frenzy this Friday night when Stacey and Clinton made over a 26 year old priest named Emily. The Facebook buzz after the episode was a collective longing for the sportsbra like collar.

Well, the makers of the collar must have gotten wind of the collective longing of hundreds of women priests, because they are now selling them on their website, here.

They look great, but cost as much as a custom made clergy shirt ($120), so not sure how many they will sell.

Womenspirit sells a similar-but not custom-"janie" here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great Summer Shirt from NY & Co

This is a great summer potential clergy shirt from New York and Company--the buttons are even covered by a placket!  Feminine short sleeves and easily convertible collar.  Also comes in white.  

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Black Gap Shirt

All my black clergy shirts are starting to fall apart.  I have been having a hard time finding black button down shirts that button all the way up to the neck, but just noticed that Gap has one right now that comes in regular, petite and small.  This would be a great basic black clergy shirt, once the collar has been taken care of.

Right now it is $44, but I can't imagine it will be that long before it goes on sale. . .

You can find it here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cross Designs

One of our lovely readers recommended Cross Designs to us.  According to their website, it looks like they make a variety of clergy shirts, including features we've discussed like:  T-shirt material, 3/4 sleeves, curved side panels, even cap sleeves.  They don't have photographs, but you can see sketches of some pretty cute ladies' shirts (even maternity!) here.

Prices aren't terrible, either.  Even with the falling dollar, they seem to be under $100 each.  I don't know how much shipping to the U.S. would cost. If anyone has a photograph of one of these shirts, we'd love to post it!

ETA: I looked more deeply on their website and found two photos, attached here:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another Maria Sjöden Update

So, Maria was nice enough to send me a sample shirt as a thank you for the publicity.  I thought I'd take this chance to review it for you.

I still can't afford one until I pay off my epic Lasik bill, but if I had money to burn, I would buy out her inventory.  The shirt is profoundly COMFORTABLE and fits really nicely.  She sent a small, and it fits perfectly, even though almost no other clergy shirt company makes an off-the-rack size that fits me.  (I haven't tried the WomenSpirit small yet.) The fabric on Maria's shirt is really soft and stretchy without feeling artificial.  It's a really nice knit.  It feels like wearing a mock turtleneck.

I don't even mind walking around looking like a Lutheran wearing this shirt. :)  I wish she made some styles compatible with the Episcopal collar, but maybe we'll create such a market for her shirts here, she'll be interested!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Where, oh, where are black sleeveless shirts?

After returning the pillowcase that Almy sent me as a sleeveless shirt, I went on a hunt for an extremely short sleeved or sleeveless black shirt that I could convert to a clergy shirt.

There are none to be found.  I've checked Gap, Old Navy, Target, the mall, Bluefly,, LandsEnd, Eddie Bauer, all the usual suspects. Sleeveless button ups are soooo not in this season.  Curses.  I tried to ignore all the gorgeous feminine blouses that ARE in and would be SO FUN to wear to work.  (I love the swingy jacket with a long camisole underneath. Sigh.)

The closest I found was at Target, but beware:  Their Merona white and black shirts do not button all the way up, which you cannot tell on the webpage.  The Mizrahi white shirt does button all the way up, but is VERY shiny and a bit off white, which always looks weird with a collar, I think.

I did find this shirt at Target.  Not black, but still cute and easily adaptable:
I then went into NY and Company, which I never do.  I associate NY and Company with clothes my more fashionable friends wore in college, so never really considered them for "grown up" clothes, but now that I can no longer afford Banana Republic and Ann Taylor consistently, I was really, really impressed at the offerings of NY and Company.  (And they have a AAA discount! AND their shirts were buy one get one 50% off!)

These shirts won't work with the jackets I bought, but they will look great on their own this summer.  They had four different options in black, alone, though only one in my size. Anyway, I bought these:

If you can wear yellow, they also had the most beautiful yellow shirt with subtle white stripes that was really lovely.  The website also has white, lavender and rose colored shirts.

If you find sleeveless black button up shirts, let me know! I'm still eager to wear the cute short sleeve jacket I found at Target this spring!