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.