I was reading PeaceBang’s encomium on the trench coat (“Why You Need a Trench“) and she invoked my name. (I’ll confess I thought of World War One when I first saw the title)
There are special fancy capes that clergy can wear, but although Boy in the Bands will disagree with me, I tend to think they suit Roman archbishops and cardinals fairly well but they’re just a bit too High Priestly Drag for the average Protestant clergyperson.
I suppose I should reply. Of course I disagree. But let me confess that I can’t find a picture of what I want and — blast! — Wippell’s catalog still isn’t all online. (Get their print catalog though; a desk reference for good ecclesiastic taste.)
First, we have to visualize two similarly cut garments: the cope commonly worn as an alternative to the chasuble, and the cappa nigra which I would offer for your ecclesiastic sartorial consideration.
Here’s a picture of the Rev. Garrett Hughes, Anglican priest and Wikipedian, wearing a cope (back view) — you’ll recall him from our discussion on the surplice. A lovely vestment and just the thing I’d want to wear, say, for Solemn Evensong (but not the Eucharist) were I an Anglican priest, but not as a substitute for hearty outerware. This is not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about a cloak, about the same size, made of heavy black wool or wool blend. The cloth is not unlike a pea coat’s. While there is a frog closure, it doesn’t hold this garment in place; your shoulders do all the work. (And once the frog is undone, it just takes a flick of the shoulder to remove it.)
You would not wear this indoors (unless the heat was out) but on the porch of the church or outdoors: greeting people after a service, a chilly or drizzly internment, or a Palm Sunday procession perhaps if the winter is late in passing. I would gladly wear it over a Geneva gown or over cassock and surplice. Think layers.
So why don’t I post a picture of me in my cappa? Because I don’t own one. Even when I was in the parish, I never had enough opportunity to wear one. Maybe if you’re the Associate Minister for Funerals for a church in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan you could justify the cost.
Yeah, I have a coat, but I don’t like a belt or the typical wide lapels of the standard trench coat. Fine for some, but I think it would read private detective on me, like a peacoat would read longshoreman. I got a black balmaccan — calf-length, small collar, single breasted –Â because I think the line suggests angry young cleric from the 60s. I can dig that. It takes a clerical collar perfectly.
But this guy in a London Fog balmaacan looks like a dufus. Or a flasher. Plus my LF cost about $160.