Idiot’s Guide to Seminary Fashion

It’s easy to spot a seminarian in a crowd, even when he’s in plain clothes.  Gone are the days when seminarians go out in barongs with clerical collars, yet, still, you can still guess with ease who is a seminarian, even if he consciously chose to “blend in” by wearing “secular” clothes.  Disguising himself with a t-shirt-and-jeans ensemble, he’d still give himself away by wearing a cleverly designed religious or bible-themed t-shirts.  Many shirtshops of other Christian denomination sell this kind of tees, but it’s the Catholic seminarians who buy them.  Go figure.

mamahaling sandalsSecond, he can be seen wearing those strapped leather sandals or the Merrel mountain-trekking variety for those who can afford it.  Sandals is the preferred footwear in the seminary, if you must know, as there is hardly a seminarian who doesn’t own a pair.  he may not wear a cross pendant or a brown scapular in public but sandals is by all means, de rigueur. 

Third, seminarians tend to chose fashions that would merit their superior’s approval, so on the average, they tend to be neat, clean-cut, devoid of earrings or hair highlights, something an ordinary person would wear to church.   The younger seminarians opt the athletic attire, like jerseys, ball caps, tennis/badminton wear while those of late vocations tend to stick to the fashion of their generation, usually 90’s style, if not the manong look.  Inside the seminary, however, they all look the same: white tees and basketball shorts.

Fourth, seminarians have a herding habit.  They tend to congregate and travel together in groups, especially those coming from a religious order or congregation.  This is because some seminaries really require it.  and so as a rule,  if you see two or three neat-looking men in their twenties walking together inside the mall, they are either seminarians, military cadets or gay.  Embarassing, but true.

Now, the high fashion apparel for a seminarian is the soutane (sutana) or the habit (abito).  The soutanesoutane is a straight, close-fitting and plain-cut long-sleeved tunic covering a seminarian from neck to ankle.  Technically, a sutana has to be black because it’s only the Pope who can wear white in the Vatican.  But, owing to our balmy climate, the Church allowed the Filipinos to wear white sutanas.  The sutana has a magic of its own.  Any seminarian, however rowdy or mischievous, transforms into a perfect little angel when donned with sutana.   With lots of reasons, of course.  First, for any impressionable youth, wearing a sutana is like fulfilling a role in saintliness.  One has to act accordingly when in that white cassock.  Second, it’s terribly warm to be in a sutana.  Any rigorous activity would result to excessive sweating, something you do not want to happen for a sutana which you have to wear for a week.  Third, because it’s immaculately white, seminarians dread any stain or wrinkle to be upon their beloved cassock.  So the best thing to do to avoid ruining the cloth is to sit quietly on a corner, as if in constant spiritual reverie.  Lastly, sutanas have this gwapo factor which the girls dig alot.  Any seminarian in sutana spells to some females as boyfriend material.  I’ve known seminarians who had the looks of a roadkill yet managed to attract a host of shrieking girls simply by lingering after the Mass wearing their sutana.  I don’t look bad myself and yes, whenever I am in my sutana, I enjoy, or rather, relish the same privilege as well.  Hehehe…

Habits (abito) has the same transforming power as the soutane and still alot more.  While sutana is the old habit never diesgeneric prayer-wear of any seminarian, the habit is an exclusive apparel for certain religious congregations.  The Dominicans have the white cowled and scapulared habit, accesorized with strings of rosary.  The Franciscans are identified with their signiture cord belts and have a selection of terracotta colors for their habit: the Conventuals wear grey, Capuchins wear chocolate crown capuch, etc.  The Carmelites wear the iconic brown scapular and, unknown to some, carry a cross on their chest the size of one’s palm, etc.   Habits, needless to say, is for the seminary world’s elite.  The kilig factor of a habit tends to be lesser as moneyless religious seminarians tend to look less polished than their diocesan confreres.  But then again, the habits are in themselves, a form of vocation promotion.  Many seminarians I know chose their congregation or orders simply because they liked the habits they wear.  I myself almost applied to the Carmelites because their brown habit is so monastery-chic, but then again, I thank God I didn’t.  Habits may look cool but it’s stifling-hot in there.  Imagine layers of fabric covering you on a summer day in our sun-drenched country.  That spells gallons of sweat and a host of ailments.  And so, while habits may attract vocations, it breaks vocations as well.

astig na surpliceThe most coveted fashion for a seminarian?  The surplice.  Surplice is a loose gown worn over the habit or sutana by seminarians who would be pontifical servers during a High Mass.  It is best worn when holding the thurible, that chained metallic container used to hold the burning incense (check out the picture).  To wear a surplice and to carry an thurible is the height of a seminarian’s concept of kagwapuhan.   Surplice, however, is rarely used as there are but few solemnities and feasts that calls for the assistance of pontifical servers.   And so, the law of supply and demand applies here.  Kaya naman, agpawisan man ng sandamakmak, a seminarian would fight tooth and nail just to be a pontifical server. 

So there you go, Bro. Utoy’s seminary fashion for dummies.  Whether in surpliced sutana or in regular clothes, you can now spot a seminarista from afar using this tell-all guide.  Or if you decide to become a seminarian yourself, just follow these simple pointers so to achieve that authentic seminaristang patay-gutom look. Har!


24 Responses

  1. hehe basta ako may spider sense ako pag alam kong seminarian ang katabi ko o hindi haha

    yung birkenstock na lang eh tapos white shirt in white maong or black pants tapos may salamin pa at hawi pa sa gitna o sa tabi ang buhok, haha.. huli!

    syempre, it takes one to know one daw. tinuninuning!!! (tunog ng spider sense yan, wag ka magulo) hehehe… birkenstock? aba, galing lang sa sale ng rusty lopez ang sandals ko ah! i must have one too!

  2. kapatid, i love the contrast of the sacramental bearing of those religious habits and the shrouded vanity for sacred poise. religious tends to be more polished than their diocesan confreres? not after the latter become priests with their posh and polished up-to-the-minute cars, hehe.

    not in our congregation, we don’t. hehehe… at saka, should thisbe ture to some other religous priests, the diocesan priests still tend to be more ostentatious about it. nary a diocesan priest in cebu and pampanga who is lousy on automobile choices. hehehe…

  3. Bro Utoy, you are right. Even in a crowd you can easily point someone who is a seminarian – yung mukhang mabait… but the Bible/religiuos -themed shirts are a real giveaway too.

    I love wearing those sandals. Sandali, sandals, jeans and shirt… wait, mukhang seminarian din ako (sabagay mabait din naman ako eh).

    Of all the graments, I do agree that the surplice is the nicest one of all (espcially with the black sutana). I can understand kung bakit halos magpatayan ang lahat to wear it.

    The white sutana looks like the Arabic thobe – also a white garment that men wear in thsi part of the world.

    naku, leap, I agree, mukha ngang mabait pero mukha lang talagang mabait ang seminarians. nasa loob ang kulo! hehehe…. as for you, kapatid, wag kang mag-alala, seminarian look is the next big thing in men’s fashion. har! God bless!

  4. ang paborito ko talaga yung sandals nila. at birkenstocks pala yun huh 🙂

    si bluep, naka-birk. hehehe… truth to tell, i brought my own pair of birks noong kapapasok ko pa lang sa seminary. antagal pala ng buhay ng sandals na yun! ako rin in the end ang sumuko at nagsawa.

  5. hats off to another wondefully put together piece of literature.

    couldn’t stop farting, este giggling every now and then.

    herding habit? pag uwi ko ng pinas i will see for myself.

    at sino naman yung kilala mong mukhang roadkill? grabe ka talaga brother utoy. haha

    hope you don’t end up looking for samurai swords online once meron ka nang parokya, gaya nung kaibigan kong dominican priest.

    two very enthusiastic thumbs up !!

    no swords for me, beth. balak kong maging tripping pag pari na ako eh mga Ukiyo-e woodcuts naman. mas mura-mura kesa sa sword at mas madaling hanapin sa e-bay. hehehe….

  6. si kuya wearing that brown scary habits (abito), he’s a member of Carmelite brownies…ssshhh…

    sabi ko nga, hwag syang maglakad sa dilim na nakaganun at kakatok sa pintuan baka ma-samurai ko cya…wahaha

    very interesting topic. thank you po

    ako nga lang yata ang baliw na nagsusulat tungkol sa mga topic na ito. hehehe… btw, sa seminaryo namin, may balibalitang may nagpapakita raw na multong naka-brown na habit at hood. nakupow!

  7. I can so relate with the discomfort of wearing a sutana – worse nga lang sa akin – abaya! Bukod sa itim (which we all know absorbs heat), I have to wear it in 40+ degree C weather waahhh! Pwede na kayang penance ito for all my sins? Hehehe

    naku, ganun pala dyan? i feel for you, kapatid, sa discomfort. eto ngang puti na ang sutana namin sa 32 degree na klima, sobrang pagrereklamo na namin. yung abaya pa kaya. sobra-sobrang penance na nga yan!

  8. brother, in some weird way, the habits scare me lalo na yung brown. parang feeling ko i will be damned for taking life so lightly.

    and you know what, brother? i tend to keep my mouth shut when there are seminarians around. why? kasi feeling ko they (you) are more well behaved than me. it creeps me. LOL! pero ha… i have my own share of tilian moments for having seminarian crushes. cute na, mabait na, hindi ko pa makukuha… hehehe! yan kasi ang challenge eh.

    pero pansin ko rin, brother, that seminarians are fond of wearing white shirt and basketball shorts but in our school before, parati silang white shirt, brown shorts and holding a tennis racket. yup, totoo yan. parang nagbabakasyon lang. heheheh!

    aba, tennis? mas sosyal ang mga seminarians nyo ah! yung men on brown habit, I’ve known some (carmelites and capuchins) and they’re the gentlest religious I know who are mabababaw ang kaligayahan tulad ko so have no fear. as for the seminarians, truth to tell, marami ring easy to get dyan. hehehe… kapag nabasa ito ng formator ko, papagalitan ako nun. har!

  9. sa tingin ko naman brother utoy ay mahaba ang pasensya mo.

    kasi yung kaibigan ko, ang sabi niya tuwing may nagrarambolan na mga gang sa harap ng simbahan pag gabi, gusto niya na raw magpaka mercenary at pagtitirahin sila ng airsoft ( he owns two.)

    pero di naman niya ginagawa. sadya lang siyang hayblad sa mga parishioners dahil kung minsan eh nagra-rugby pa sa harap ng pews. (rough area kasi)

    mabuti naman at prolific ka na ulit sa blogs mo, akala ko lumipad ka na papuntang pransiya nung nawala ka eh. hehehe

    di pa siguro ako lilipad. hopefully by end of July. Saan ba yang lugar ni padre at mukhang notoryus? hehehe…
    God bless!

  10. I have tried wearing sutana once. Grabe ang init pala nun sobra. I wonder how bad a habit or surplice could be? hehehe.

    Ay oo tama ka dun, daming naghahangad maging pontifical server. sino bang ayaw. 😀

    God bless!

    kaya naman lahat ,gustong matutong gumamit ng incense para sikat sa misa! thanks for droppong by my bahay-bahayan! God bless!

  11. bro_utoy, quick question — ibinabawal ba sa mga seminarians ang pagkakaroon ng tatoo? naisip ko lang kasi bigla, naka-meet na ako ng lahat ng klaseng seminarista, pwera yung burdado 🙂

  12. @Taroogs

    sa amin order, bawal ang magpatato pag nasa loob ka na. pero pag may tato ka na bago pumasok pwedeng pwede. Tapos pag fully pledge ka na, kahit san sa katawan mo na ikaw magpatato. Dami sa amin pari na may tato. Its an expression eh. Ewan ko sa ibang order kung pwede. alam ko sa diocesan eh bawal hanggat di ka pa naoordenahan

    bawal din sa amin yung magpatato lalo na kung kilay ang tatatuan. hehehe… may ka-batch ako dati, may tato sya na ahas na ang ulo eh lumiliyab na bungo. astig ano? kaya pala tuwing swimming namin eh laging nakakamiseta ang pobre, may itinatago! hehe…

  13. Hehe… tama ka nga jan bro. utoy sa mga pointers kung pano ma-spot-an ang seminarista…

    guilty as charged… hehe, noon..hehe


    seminarista ka, kapatid? aba, aba, welcome sa bahay ko! pwede dumerecho sa kusina at magbukas ng ref ang mga seminarians and ex-seminarians dito. hehehe… God bless!

  14. Parang gusto ko yung ganyang outfit.

    Kahit yung friend ko, habang may gig sya, outfit nya e yung parang naka-black tux sya. Ang daming tsiks ang umaaligid sa kanya.

    Kung mahina-hina lang talaga yun, malamang hindi nya matutuloy ang pagkapari nya.

    Yung sa amin sa school, ang ganda ng get up ng mga pari sa amin.

    Pero mukhang mahilig sila sa mga little boys.


    naughty, naughty! God bless, Taps!

  15. Bro. Utoy, una sa lahat, maraming salamat sa iyong mga dasal, napakalakas mo talaga kay lord sapagkat nagkaron na ako ng trabaho! yehey!

    Ako’y isang mabait na sakristan dati, 6 na taon din akong nagsilbi sa aming munting parokya. Ayaw na ayaw kong madumihan ang aking sutana at ako lang ang bukod tanging nag-uuwi ng sutana ko para labahan. hehe…

    Noong bata pa ako, gusto ng nanay ko na maging pari ako. Para daw may maging pari sa aming pamilya at dahil mukha akong munting anghel noon. Hindi naman ako intresado dahil gusto kong maging astronaut. hehehe!

    Nakakakita ako dito sa Dubai ng naka Abito… kulay brown. at syanga pala, may age limit ba ang pagpasok sa seminaryo? Paano kung gs2 kong mag-pari ngayon? pwede pa ba?

    May mga weird akong experience pero saka ko na lang ikekwento sa inyo ni bluep, mahirap nang maihayag pa sa internet at baka mabansagan akong “weirdo” hahaha!

    Ingat! Salamat ulit!

    God bless you on your new job, Mix, at tulad nga ng bilin ng mamay eh magbabait. para terno sa dating mong mala-munting anghel. hehe…
    brown habit? baka si fr. tomasito yun, isang Capuchin. tanong mo kay bluep at kilala nya yan.
    naku, parang na-atat ako dun sa ikekwento mo ah. hehehe…
    God bless ulit!

  16. bro. Utoy akala ko Crocs na suot hehehe… musta na ikaw?

    surviving well. hehehe… God bless!

  17. HMMM..i know someone whose not a stereotype..?

    btw bruder, ur a part of my 10 name tag. pls check it out ha. TY 🙂 and regards.

    sige, i’ll check it out. God bless!

  18. ps: ang cute din pala ng english name ng sutana at abito..and ktwa din tong post nato in general, dami ko natutunan dyan sa “loob”..


  19. Wow!! Eto ang pinakagusto kong entry mo tungkol sa seminarian fashion, hehehe..
    Nung una, amaze na amaze talga ako sa mga nakasutana, isa un sa mga reasons kung bakit gusto kong pumasok sa seminary before. Believe it or not, mas gusto ko ung sa mga contemplatives, ung mga shaved heads at nakakulubong. Gumawa pa nga ako ng study tungkol sa kanila sa sociology namin nung college tas naka interview pa ako ng monk. Dun nagsimula ung obsession kong makapasok, hehehe…
    Galing galing!!

    ako rin, noon, hangang hanga ako sa habit ng Carmelites naman. pero nung pumasok na ako, pastilan, mainit pala! sino palang monk yung initerview mo?

  20. Ngaun ko lang nabasa ung reply mo sa comment ko..

    Si Fra. Benedict ung nainterview ko, isa syang monk na Contemplative of the Pierced Heart sa San Jose, Nueva Ecija. Kung idedescribe ko itsura nya eh gagawan ko nalang ng isang entry sa haba, hehehe… Parang ganun sa paliwanag ni st. bluep nung makameet sya ng capuchin. Ewan ko ba, bakit iba ang aura ng mga santong un! hehehe..

    Mainit ung suot nila? Hmmm… Yoko na pala, toinks!!

    Teka, pumasok ka sa Carmelites?

    nag-searchin lang ako sa Carmel, parang si Rev. tapos tulong-tulong sa mga activities.ü

    alam mo ba, noong first day kong nagkasotana, di ko talaga hinubad agad! pero maagang nawala ang “kilig” ng sutana nung pagprusisyunin kami sa Sta.Cruz. hanghenet-henet nya!

  21. sa totoo lang, parang ang pogi-pogi ng mga seminaristang nakasuot ng sutanang puti. kahit chaka ang hitsura, keri pa rin. super neat! may crush ako dati na seminarista. pag naka-“secular” clothes siya, parang dyologs pero pag naka-sutana…ampucha! laglag talga p**ty ko. bwahaha!

    just one question bro. uts [yay! sagwa], pede pa bang pumasok sa seminaryo ang dating may asawa? niloloko ko kasi jowa ko [dream niya dati magpari]. sabi ko di siya pede dun kasi nakaranas na siya ng sex. baka palagi lang siyang mag-mas***[bleep…bleeep] pag andun na siya. harharhar! 😀

  22. maganda din ung habit ng mga redemptorists, astig ung clerical collar nila. lalo na pag black ung habit. for the philippines kasi may Indult tayo kaya pwedeng gawing white ung habit. i even saw pics of seminarians wearing birettas. i think it’s still allowed. but liberal or non-tradition minded seminaries wouldn’t allow their seminarians to wear them. dito sa pinas, priests don’t even wear their vestments correctly. kahit hindi suot ang alb patong nalang ang chasuble sa civilian clothes tapos sabay patong ang stole. eh diba dapat under the chasuble ang stole? heheh!!!! hindi rin ako makakita ng paring nakasuot ng maniple. kasi parang ang pangit nung nakikita mo ung black pants ng pari beneath his chasuble. well, the question na mainit talaga ang patong patong na vestments, just put in mind the spanish friars in the past. europeans pa sila, sanay sa malamig na climate and yet they were able to wear their habits and their alb, amice, cincture, stole, maniple and at the last top the chasuble for the Mass. Kaya nga magpapari kasi isasacrifice mo ung buhay mo for the service of God diba? ano naman ung 1 hour na perspiration? hehehe!!!! i even know an american priest who always wears his cassock everyday and wears all the above mass vestments for mass. bakit kaya dhindi nasusunod and liturgical colors? have you ever seen priests wearing rose colored vestments, very rarely here in the philippines!!! hehehe!!!!

  23. and lastly maganda rin ung surplice na may lace trimmings. mas mukhang dignified. hehe!!!

  24. how many years to be in a seminary to be approved for a seminarian to wear his soutanne? Are you going to wait before to say a go go for you to wear one or if you enter the seminary you can already wear one?

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