Cassocks – A guide to

So in prep for Cuddesdon in September I have received a welcome pack.  Apparently a black cassock is required and a surplice.  So after discussing across twitter and various priests, this is my definitive* guide!  Remembering a good cassock will last 20 yrs – so some thought is needed!

First I need to point out that many Ordinands borrow a cassock during training or buy second-hand.  I have chosen not to do that as I am short and the likelihood of borrowing one that fits is low!  Also, I have been lucky enough to have my Diocese pay for my Cassock out of the end budget for clergy wear.  I do not know if this is the norm but as I am the only f/t ordinand my diocese is sending this year I may be a ‘special’ case.

Where to buy

  •  Ask around and you’ll soon be told that J&M are the best around for quality, cost and service. I’ll be ordering mine from them! Also, in the USA they are considered to be ‘high end’! 😉 Also Ordinands get a discount or a free Preaching Scarf when ordering a surplice with their cassock!

Others are:

  • V Expensive. I ordered a Cassock Alb from them and it was ok although the buttons had to have extra attention as they were not tied securely.  Men biased.
  • – I bought a travel bag from these as, at the time, I could not find a better /cheaper one. Expensive overall.
  • Hayes and Finch. Mary Collins. Watts and Co. And Ebay! Yes really! There are others but none of these I have ordered from.

Cassock Features – or Symbolism of pleates, collars, buttons (all entirely down to taste)


  • 5 pleates on the back = Five wounds of Christ. (St Stephens House requirement). Has good ‘swing’ but not gd for the ladies who worry about “does my bum look big in this ?”.
  • 3 pleates = Trinity (My choice due to above and suggested for women).
  • 1 pleates = No meaning (unless you know different?!)



  • Rounded = Catholic or Anglo-C, so ‘High church’. Also longer wearing and more comfortable. (My choice.)
  • Square = Middle church. (there must be a better way to describe ‘other than high church’.
  • No gap in collar = Ordinand awaiting priesting.  So altered to include gap later at extra cost.
  • No collar = Come fly with me High in the Sky Church.
  • Gap size = Personal preference but the average seems to be 3cm. But rounded collars usually come with 1 inch (2cm) gap.

Rounded collar

Square Collar

Square Collar







Buttons on Single breasted

  • 39 = Represents the 39 Articles of the Church of England and/ or the stripes of our Lord’s Scourging (40 -1).  (My Choice)
  • 33 = Represents Christ’s earthly years (Tends to worn by RC priests or those too short to wear 39 who’ll then get evenly placed)


  • J&M have the choice of a pen Pocket or Jackey type inside Pocket. (I chose neither).
  • You can have normal pockets or slit through or one of each.

Cuffs: I chose no cuffs but some like cuffs as useful for putting pew/ liturgy/hymn sheets in.  (cant’ see it myself).



Thanks to Twitter @PeterDaviesWorc, @maggidawn, @frsimon for info!

*May not be definitive.

Images from J&M Sewing.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. minidvr
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 15:13:34

    So, you’ve selected a 3 pleated, round collared, 39 button cassock. What about the surplice? Lace or no lace? 🙂


  2. Emma
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 15:18:03

    No lace on the surplice! just Standard style. 🙂


  3. kateboardman
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 15:53:18

    I like my J&M cassock, but I also have a lovely fitted one, no pleats just fit and flare from Cross designs. Much less material in it so less heavy or hot (and a super-cool pink satin lining). Twice the price, but worth remembering when you get your grant eventually… 🙂


  4. Justine
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 15:56:50

    We’ll match! What fabric have you gone for? I must order mine on Monday, I think I’m going to go for lightweight wool as I get so hot, and there’s a limit to how little I can wear underneath…


  5. Chris Upton
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 16:39:24

    An Anglican surplice, in fact – full and long? Lace needs something much nearer a sausage-skin to display to best effect.


  6. Ray
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 04:36:58

    Dear Respected Woman of God, Emma, Holy Greetings to you from India Christ Our Lord.

    I am Pastor from India.

    I Read Your Writings and Sermons, Really they are Wonderful and Informative and very useful to Our Ministries.

    When I am Searching for Some Particular Study material for The Trainee Pastors , I found Your Site.

    Can I Use Some your Writings for Our Gospel Ministries?

    If it is God’s Will, Please Expand your Missions to India through Our Ministries.

    We Pray for You, Please Pray for Our ministries.

    In Christ Alone


  7. cfenwerem
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 03:28:10

    Hi Emma, (resend)
    Great blog, I am on Discernment process and I suspect we are in the same Diocese. I am planning to transfer some of the reflections to my wordpress blog. My question is ‘Does ordinand wear collar?


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