When I posted the photo with the piece on women religious I knew I had found the garb I’ve been used to seeing women religious wear since at least the mid-80’s. Cotton. Sensible cotton: a denim jumper and a skirt with wrinkles you wouldn’t see those strands in the image above tolerate.
My friend Tony fell right into it.
Is it an urban legend that today’s women religious favor polyester? I’m starting to think definitely so.
I do remember women religious teaching at my grade school and high school, and their habits had the smooth look of polyester. I’m allergic to the fabric: it literally makes my skin crawl. The 70’s were a particularly trying time for me: I refused to submit to my peers’ dress code of denim, and I refused to go the Tony Manero route of polyester and silk shirts.
It was a corduroy and t-shirt decade for me, on the whole.
Most women religious strike me as sensible people who stock their closets on a budget. If thrift stores are hawking polyester, they’ll get ’em. More often, you see women religious wearing the same things other modest women wear. Most ecologically conscious women wear natural fabrics.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some women religious in traditional habits use artificial fabrics, or blends. Don’t see a lot of wool. I’ve also seen lots of clergy don polyester vestments. $150 is a whole lot cheaper than $600–unless the wealthy parishioners are footing the bill.
So what do you think? I’d say it’s time for this urban legend to retire. It seems rather weird to be focusing on what women religious wear, anyway.
As for polyester, for me it brings back memories of Father Cheapo and the disco craze. I could never quite get sisters crammed into that picture.