Clergy Shirts: Collars, Colors and More

Oct 10th 2020

If you are only familiar with clergy shirts from the perspective of a bystander, then you might not know that there were so many different types, styles and colors. However, we here at Divinity Clergy Wear are the authorities on such matters, and if you’re looking for some more in depth information on these types of shirts, you’re in luck.

The truth is, there are way more styles of clerical garments out there than the vestments we offer here on our website. Besides the interesting history of stoles, chimeres, albs, surplices and other clerical garments, there is plenty to learn about clerical shirts. Buckle up and get ready to roll.


First up is the matter of color. Although color is the quickest and easiest way to tip off your sense of style, there’s more to the color of the clergy shirt than the personal fancy of the man or woman wearing it. In fact, the color of the shirt can and often is matched to the significance of the observation or the ceremony.


The color white is often worn as a representation of the purity of divine love and is a reminder that there are conduits to the world through which this divine love can flow. That makes white a popular color not only for clergy shirts but also for other clerical vestments.

However, with respect to clerical shirts in particular, white is often worn during ceremonies regarding sacraments, such as wedding and baptism, although white is also sometimes worn during religious holidays.


As much as white is a reminder of the purity of divine love, black is a reminder of the worldly and secular duties that an ordained minister must fill. That makes black equally as common as white.

That makes black a very common color among vestments, especially historically. In fact, Roman Catholic priests often wore a black cassock and cincture every day as a part of the daily wear. The cassock wasn’t even considered a vestment, but the daily wear of an ordained man.

Today, Catholics and Methodists still typically wear black clerical shirts, which is one of the reasons that the typical image of a Catholic priest is of a person wearing a black shirt with a white collar, which we will investigate shortly.


The color red can serve a number of purposes within the scope of clerical garments, but two of those are to signify rank and to commemorate specific events. For example, cardinals and bishops often wear red clerical shirts, although cardinals sometimes wear darker colors like maroon to distinguish themselves further.

Red is also worn during ceremonies that commemorate the martyrdom of a saint and represent the passion of the ideal and the blood that was spilled. Elsewhere in the liturgical vestments that you will find, red is a common color that is often associated with blood, fire or passion.


Purple is also sometimes used to connote rank, and occasionally bishops will wear purple. This is also the reason that bishops are often seen wearing other purple robes and vestments in addition to their shirt.

Purple can also be used during ceremonies that deal in penitence or repentance, or during very solemn ceremonies like funerals.

Collars: Banded vs. Tab

Without getting too much into the details of the styles of clergy shirts out there and the types of collars that they might have, it will suffice to remark that there are two common styles of collar, being banded collars and tab collars.

Tab collared shirts have collars that fold down and present an opening at the front where a strip of cloth or plastic - a tab - can be inserted. This is one of the reasons that there is a small strip of white present at the throat of a tab collared shirt.

Banded collar shirts do not have a tab that is inserted into the collar, but rather a strip of cloth that encircles the neck. For the most part, you are likely to encounter tab collared shirts, but we do offer both of these different styles of shirts in our store.

The Rabat

The rabat is an interesting garment that we also offer in our online store that some people might prefer in place of a clergy shirt. The rabat is a sleeveless garment that is very similar to a vest that allows the collar underneath to show, either in the form of a tab or a band. In some ways the rabat is used in place of a shirt where one desires the effect to remain.

Do you need to learn more about these interesting types of shirts before you begin shopping through our collection of high quality long sleeve shirts for men and women in our store? If so, give us a call at 877-453-3535 and let us know what you need.

Otherwise, take a look through our collection of shirts which are available in a variety of colors, styles and sizes!