Rarely do I think about what I “should” wear, and I like it when local churches tell me that I don’t even need to wear a tie for the Sunday morning sermon. (My kind of place.) But, I did think about what to wear at the NPC when speaking with the Emergent leaders. I decided to be myself. What do you think the ideal Emergent appearance is?(Not entirely serious.)
I met up with Tony Jones early, and he was wearing long blue jeans — the kind that look a little dirty, a T-shirt that was visible at his neckline, and a long-sleeved Oxford — untucked. Tennis shoes, I think. Don’t know about a belt. On the second day, no kidding, he was leading us all in flip-flops (maybe Rainbow sandals) and shorts. He did a masterful job. I worried he’d stub his toe on one of those chairs as he moved about with that microphone.
Then I saw John Raymond, Zondervan’s leader behind this event, and he was wearing Adidas Superstars, denim shorts, and I don’t think his shirt was tucked in either. Don’t know about a belt. Pagitt was wearing the same sort of thing — only bigger items because he’s about 6-6. LeRon and I could wear Doug’s shorts as Capris. What made him unusual was that he was riding around in a scooter because he broke a bone in his foot.
Then I saw Dan Kimball and his appearance was distinct: Doc Martin-like shoes, blue jeans with a rolled up cuff, a T-Shirt under a black jacket and a black leather jacket over that. Stylish hair.
John Burke next: Doc Martin-like shoes, blue jeans, and nice Oxford (T-shirt visible) shirt — not tucked in. Didn’t see a belt.
Ryan Bolger is a bear of a guy with lots of hair — on top and on the face. Big coat; denim pants. I saw a belt. Then I saw a guy like me: LeRon Shults. Slacks with a polo; ordinary shoes; a belt.
There is no wonder that Shelly Pagitt, at lunch, in a burst of humor with me, suggested I needed a total makeover.
I wore slacks with a crease and cuff; a long-sleeved shirt; fountain pen in the pocket; Born shoes. Microfiber slacks. Stunningly comfortable. V-neck T-shirt. John Raymond leaned over before I spoke and said, “Nice microfiber!” As a student of mine in the mid-80s, in front of my whole Synoptic Gospels class, John gave me a good ribbing about having a T-shirt visible at the neckline. He and Ken Carr roasted me on the last day, and both were wearing Oxfords with a visible T-shirt — which of course they pointed out and it was the first time I had ever noticed our difference. So I switched, that very year. Now I find I’ve lost my way in the style world. Somewhere along the line John changed on this style and didn’t inform me.
Frankly, LeRon and I took the style show to a new level. We looked like Professors, acted like Professors, talked like Professors, and dressed like Professors. Shelly, come to think of it, I’m not sure I need I makeover. There’s nothing like a 50 year decked out in neatly-trimmed slacks, a shirt tucked in, and a visible belt.
Clearly, I’m missing something, but Emergent folks have style and it is a style. In fact, they look like my students. Maybe that’s the whole point. It has been hard on me, this issue of how to dress today, but maybe I’ve figured it out:
I’ve decided Emergent dress might all have to do with the belt. “Visible belts,” I said to myself as I entered my hotel room, “must be a thing of the past.” I kept asking myself, “What is so bad about tucking in your shirt and showing a leather belt?” There was a big mirror in my room, and I looked myself over but good both ways, and it just didn’t look right for me to wear my shirt out.
All this has to be said, and I haven’t even gotten to the soul patch! That’s part of the Emergent uniform. John Burke, John Raymond, Doug Pagitt … and Ryan Bolger has super-sized his.
And sometimes the Emergent folk wear colored T-shirts under the Oxford. Never done that in my life and I can’t figure out why they do that. Matthew’s House Project sent me a brown T-shirt once; maybe it was a subtle hint. I haven’t even worn it yet. When does one wear a colored T-shirt? Anyway, I wouldn’t wear it because it is not a V-neck.
The other thing I noticed is that the Emergent folks all use bics and sometimes wear them in their pockets, and this disturbs me. I don’t care about the belts, but it is anti-Emergent to be using a disposable pen like a bic and toss those suckers away all the time and clog up our world. Environmentalists prefer fountain pens.
Somebody send Tony and Doug a fountain pen because they clearly don’t need belts.
John, let me know next time when the styles change.