Cleaning your robe, gown, what-have-you

“Ordination season” is coming up, and a bunch of clergy who might not otherwise gown will gown, and a bunch of ordinands will get getting gifts, gowns included. A thought about maintaining your vesture.

I own two gowns — one too many in retrospect — and the older is about eleven or twelve years old. I have never had it cleaned, though it looks fine. Don’t be shocked by this.

In our wash-and-wear culture it may seem a sin not to wash clothing, but some items were never meant to be cleaned conventionally. Geneva gowns, especially, seem to suffer when their seams are tested. So I spot clean, brush, and steam (iron? never) it as necessary. But above all these I keep it protected away from sunlight and always (now) travel with it in a travel bag. If I know I’ll be near something messy — wedding cake, say — I am sure to put it away first.

I now expect years of service from my gowns and hope the same for you.

So if you’re buying an ordination gift, but want to get something unconventional, consider getting a good (dress length) garment bag or a clothes steamer. (The ordinand will get enough Bibles and book gift-certificates.) I was given these and have long appreciated them.

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