Recently Ur-Spo had a post about dressing-up/dressing down, reflecting on how people dress for work and such. I commented there that for most of my adult working life, I wore something of a uniform for formal occasions or when "at work"-- the Roman collar or the religious habit. The habit became much more comfortable, once I adjusted to it, partly because we often wore it around the monastery anyway. Both were essentially monochromatic -- black suit and collar (with that white tab) and a brown habit.
I recall the first time I met Fr. Terence Flynn, back in St. Louis in 1973. He was then the young provincial of the Washington Province of the Discalced Carmelites, and he looked a very trim and proper gentleman in a sharp black suit and collar. When someone commented on how clerical he looked, he said, "I have to look this way when I work." Then opening up the suit coat to reveal a bright paisley lining, he went on "But inside, I live!"
Thinking about Spo's post and that memory of Fr. Terence, I realized that although I wore the habit a lot, when I was in mufti, so to speak -- out of uniform -- I was more likely to dress with a certain flair. One of the things for which I was notorious was wearing colorful shoelaces in my tennis shoes. I had some that were red-and-white striped, some that were day-glo orange and yellow, some that were rainbows. I had Christmas ones and Halloween ones. I even had some battery-operated electric ones that lit up red, much to the amusement of children and bemusement of adults.
One of the brothers at Holy Hill was from a small town in Wisconsin and members of his family visited often. He told me once after he had been on a home visit that one of his sisters asked, "How's the priest with the ditzy shoelaces?"
That's me, folks.