The black shoes controversy rears its head again

I’ve been thinking. Yes, I know that is a dangerous thing but I’ve been thinking about clerical shoes. In particular, black clerical shoes.

Now, we all know black is best. In fact, black is the only colour for clerical shoes. Black and polished. For clergy and servers alike, nothing else will do. And I’m fine with that. I have on occasion broken said rule mainly for attention seeking purposes, it has to be said. Twice a year I have worn pink shoes, and once I forgot to take my purple ones off (and mucked up everything so that’ll teach me) and I once had to wear a pair of floral lilac Birkenstocks at a dear friend’s church while robed because I’d forgotten to take black ones with me.

Brown will never do. Not even on a Bishop. I have never worn brown shoes. Ever.

But as an altar server I was taught that black shoes must be worn with black cassocks. I even kept black shoes in church especially for this purpose, as did many others.  When I was ordained I made the transition seamlessly.  Black doc martens, black MBTs, black with a square toe, black with a buckle, and a sneaky wee pair of black suede FitFlop mules which I have occasionally worn in a hurry.

However… I’ve been thinking. The black shoe thing was obviously because clergy wore black cassocks. Now I very rarely wear my cassock. It only comes out for funerals and the odd ecumenical event or evensnog. Most of the time I wear a cassock alb which is white. So I just wondered, would it ever be correct to wear white shoes with a white cassock alb? (This is not just an excuse for more shoe shopping, honest.) You know, like nurse’s shoes? Or is that just too horrible to contemplate? Do let me know.

Here are some examples. Would you mind your priest appearing in any of these at the altar?


24 thoughts on “The black shoes controversy rears its head again

  1. Yikes! Making the ‘WHITE’ choices.
    Just to excite further comment, let me mention what I wear: a pair of RED suede boots. very warm, can’t fall over anything, [they zip up the inside] keep out the draughts… and look very dashing with a white cassock alb [and with a black cassock, too]

  2. There is the Franciscan Exemption for brown shoes and sandals…

    It would makes sense to wear white with a white cassock alb. White socks or stockings also?

  3. I wore red shoes on Easter. Because it was Easter, you know? Otherwise, I tend to stick with black. Except I like the red suede boots mentioned above! Personally, I dislike wearing white shoes because they make my feel look bigger than I want them to look, and they get dirty much more easily. On the other hand, I certainly know a number of male priests who wear white bucks in the summer.

  4. I’m with Penny – red is Papal, white gets mucky and brown definitely SSF/TSSF. I have worn brown and sandals in my time and also trainers (white). but hey, I’m a worker priest not Kate bleeding Moss:-)

  5. I could never do red – far too attention seeking, even for me. A priest should blend into the background, no? (I’m laughing at myself as I write this.)

  6. I was watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the other night and definitely saw these. Of course if its the Nurse Ratched look you are going for……….

  7. Personally, I’m more exercised by the length of the cassock-alb. The raincoat-thrown-on-in-a-hurry look doesn’t do it for me. Nor does the rope round the middle of the servers unless they are willowy. All this in the search for invisibility, natch.

  8. I’m afraid that I don’t on the whole notice clergy shoes so I suppose that most wear black and reasonably shiny. Our veggie vicar (female) wore black fabric shoes, and I have noticed wellies (or at least boots) on several occasions and if you saw the grassy/muddy approaches to some churches round here you would know why): I have also observed sandals, walking boots and trainers (on both sexes) and some very snazzy designer shoes – black with red heels (female only), and even on a couple of occasions bedroom slippers. Does it really matter as long as the priest is comfortable and thinking of God and the service rather than his/her pinched toes or cold or wet feet?

  9. The fact that you haven’t noticed is probably because they were black, as you said. No problem with wellies, but you should always have a spare pair of black sanctuary slippers to pop on!

  10. I see what you mean. Black and white is formal and should work, but it doesn’t. White shoes, and especially white brogues are very related to sport, like tennis or golf. It just doesn’t look right in church. I try to avoid anything that might be distracting. If the preacher wears white shoes nobody will remember a word he/she said – only those white shoes. He/she might as well have been wearing a party hat. Sorry for being so boring but I say stick with black.

      • Well, leopard skin does have some black in it 🙂 I find it astonishing how closely people pay attention to what clergy are wearing. I love shoes so I wear the highest quality shoes I can afford, but black. The odd connoisseur will spot it but most people can’t tell. That way I can be covertly vain, and extremely comfortable 🙂

  11. Yes, I’ve tried telling my servers the same thing. The congregation will sit for an hour wondering why you chose to wear cream stilletoes instead of engaging in the liturgy. Black it is then!

  12. As a priest I always wear black sandals (closed toe type) except when there is snow on the ground, and that is very rare in Devon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.