Orthodox believers in Sea Cliff NY at a religious procession, illustrating the brighter clothing now acceptable as proper church attire. It’s FUN to be Orthodox, after all (it’s more than that, to be sure, but, the joy IS there, let’s not forget that!).
Renowned Russian couturier Vyacheslav Zaitsev advises Orthodox believers to carefully choose their wardrobe for attending church services. “Bright and radiant colours are appropriate for church wear. [Believers should choose] clothing that is shining and cheerful. I’m not talking just about light materials, but, one’s clothing should give off a dynamic impression, filled with luminosity and sunlight, to show that when you are in communion with God, you are in communion with the Light”, Mr Zaitsev said in an interview with the newspaper Tserkovny Vestnik (The Church Herald).
The famous designer believes that the traditional shawl or scarf is very appropriate for church wear. In his opinion, the scarf should be “only be of light colours, not overly dark or multicoloured”. Mr Zaitsev said that women should wear a headdress not only at services, but, in everyday life as well. “Russia was always famous for its beautiful headdresses as our women always covered their heads. However, today, all the girls seem to be ‘bare-headed’. I believe that it is strange and ridiculous that women are not wearing headdresses”, he noted. “I often suggest various kinds of headdresses from my collections to people to bring the matter to their attention. I even hold special exhibitions showcasing hats and caps”, Mr Zaitsev went on to say. He believes that trousers are appropriate and normal women’s wear today. “Women first tried them on in the 19th century, and quietly defended the right to wear them, so, today, we have a tremendous variety of trousers for women”, he said.
In his view, “some old biddies and other hidebound observers of Orthodox ‘purity’, who are nothing but hypocrites, often prevent other people from turning to God. Their remarks and comments insult other people and distract newcomers from the purpose of their visit to the services”. Mr Zaitsev believes it would be nice to have special clothing for the various church feasts. “Easter doesn’t mean dull faces, our faces should be bright and radiant, and our clothing should ‘shimmer in sunlight’. There shouldn’t be people wearing dull, grey, and aesthetically dreary clothing at the service”, he concluded.
14 October 2008
There is an interesting development going on as we speak. There appears to be a subtle shift in the accepted mode of feminine dress at services occurring. Trousers are becoming more acceptable, and I am NOT speaking of liberal circles here at all. Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral was photographed recently in Australia after a service speaking with the laity. Well… one of the ladies was wearing trousers and Vladyki seemed quite at ease with the situation. To be sure, ladies’ trousers are NOT masculine attire in the least, and it appears that the Church is recognising that fact. The standard appears to be shifting to include feminine trousers as a part of proper dress for services.
Interestingly, it appears that the traditional usage of women covering their heads shall remain. In fact, this spring, when I attended a special unity service at St Nick’s in New York, some of the gals were in slacks, but, their heads were covered. No one was taken aback or made comment. In short, there shall be a convergence. More traditional parishes shall allow trousers (nice dressy ones, of course) and more “liberal” parishes shall see people covering their heads for prayer once again. It shall end in a way that no one could have imagined twenty years ago, which is a good sign that it is from God. Both sides shall bow to one another and find out that… we are the SAME (now… it is time for one Russian Orthodox Church in the USA, another in Canada, and another in Alaska… it’s logical!).
As for the fellows… sorry, boys, the rules remain unchanged for you. No hats, no shorts, or stupid t-shirts (Alfred E. Neuman is still not appropriate for liturgy, guys). In any event, we like you the way you are. Don’t change…