Wednesday, February 23, 2011

About cassocks: Buttons or zippers?

From a reader, Dale:
Can altar servers wear the cassock with 33 buttons in front w/ cuffs plus 5 buttons on the cuffs? I am planning to replace the zippers with 33 buttons, but do we have to put cuffs and 5 buttons to it? Our cassock is white so do the buttons have to be black or white?

I am still hesitant to replace the zipper with buttons, as this may appear too "traditional" to some clerics.

Thank you and God bless.

Cassocks are traditionally buttoned in the front. There are different kinds of buttons used in cassocks. There are plastics, enamel and chinese knot ones. The chinese knots are of a better kind. I rarely see the traditional 33 buttons on Pinoy priests cassocks as most Pinoy priests are not that tall. So imagine a diminutive 5 foot 2 priest wearing a cassock studded with buttons!

Most Pinoy cassocks also look like a barong. They have flaps covering the buttons so it is a clean look from the outside. A cut made to fit up to the wearer's waist like and slightly tapering down is a nice look for a cassock. Straight cuts look more like monastic tunicles rather than cassocks. Cassocks have a more "tailor fit" look and feel, if you get what I mean.

Zippers are simply, how do I put this, bad fashion sense?  They are bad.  Ugly and undignified.  Zippers are for sports jackets, jeans and your bag.  NOT FOR CASSOCKS.  They do not make you look dignified.  Stick with buttons.

Don't be bothered by the 33 buttons and the 5 buttons on the sleeves.  Those are for monsignori and bishops.  Priest's cassocks don't have them anymore especially here in the Philippines.

Proper things, for the appropriate occasion worn but the people who are EXPECTED and are PRIVILEGED to wear the,.

Knights of Columbus also follow this protocol.  Only 4th degree knights are allowed to wear the regalia.  Those in lower degrees must first be exemplified into the 4th degree or the Patriotic degree before they can carry their swords and wear their baldrics, cape and chapeau.

That is why I hate to see photos of altar servers "playing priest" by wearing the alb, stole and chasuble and gamely posing in front of the camera, grinning from ear to ear, as if he won the lottery, hands raised in the ICXC blessing.  Bad....bad...bad!  Those are not costumes.  They are liturgical vestments reserved for the ordained!

Use black buttons if you use black cassocks and white if your cassock is white.  I am sure your parish priest won't notice them as the buttons would blend in with the cloth.

And, a tip.  Use Peach Twirl for your cassock's main cloth material.  Very good one!  Even if you wear a black cassock, you don't feel so hot.  And it does not give you the look like "I forgot to pay my electric bill so I do not have an electric iron!".  You get what I mean.


  1. @Sir TPC,

    I've seen cassocks with different tailoring styles, some have accessible pockets while others have not, and some have flaps in order to have a clean look from the buttons while others had exposed like the picture above, some have cuffs with buttons at the sleeves while some is just plain simple long sleeve with no buttons. And some seminaries and acolytes or altar servers have different tailoring designs of their cassocks.

    So my question is does the design of the cassock or tailoring styles really matters or not?


  2. quite frankly, the designs do not matter for me. Some have buttons, some do not. But I ABHOR and HATE zippers!

    I have seen these kind in, thank God, only 1 or 2 priests. They look like a hybrid of Power Rangers and The Matrix.

    Religious orders have their own designs of the cassock or habits as well. Take the example of the Redemptorist.

    Zippers don't give the cassock a smart look when worn. I know that the Marist brothers used to have a zippered cassock and I always hated the look.

    The Marist Brothers are great workers and their religious garb does not do them justice. But its just me.

    Take this rule. Cassocks are clerical clothing that should give the wearer the dignified look his office symbolizes. Even altar servers should wear cassocks that are dignified because they serve in the Lord's Altar. Even waiters in hotels wear their tux smartly. Why would we wear something less when we are serving the King of Kings?

    Zippers are never part of upper clothing. Except if your wearing a sports jacket. LOL!

  3. @pinoy catholic...

    I have A Question
    since black cassock is a norm, what if the bishop of his diocese discourages to wear black cassocks
    kailangan po ba yang sundin ng clergy at lay altar servers, kahit walang written document from him?

  4. @pinoy catholic...

    I have A Question
    since black cassock is a norm, what if the bishop of his diocese discourages to wear black cassocks
    kailangan po ba yang sundin ng clergy at lay altar servers?

    1. If the bishop does not want black then obey. Try talking to him and convince him why a white surplice would look better on a black cassock instead of a white cassock on a white surplice. Tell him that it is more of aesthetics. Don't tell him that it is because of tradition. I think you'll get a quick "No" for that.

    2. oo nga ano? mas magandang tignan ang Surplice sa black cassock...

      So even though walang written document of discouragement, sundin pa rin ba?

    3. heheh why would the bishop give a quick NO if the reason because of Tradition?
      any Tips about this Sir?

    4. So there were no written orders from the bishop? How did you know there is one in the first place?

    5. So how sure are you that the bishop said it? Maybe someone is making up stories.

  5. wala po talaga sir the 1st place according to my 1st comment :)
    it has no Written Orders from the Ordinary, It's only verbal daw...

  6. can i use black buttons on a white cassock or alb?

    1. if you are an altar server or a seminarian, don't dare it, EJ.