Vestments are clothing worn by clergy and lay people when they are conducting public worship. When we have a service of Morning or Evening Prayer, the officiant usually wears a cassock and a surplice. Here at St. Paul’s Ivy, the cassock worn is black and the surplice is the white piece that goes over it. Members of our choir wear these same vestments each week (although the white piece is called a choir cotta). The clergy also wear a black scarf-like vestment over the surplice around the neck called a tippet; it usually has the seals of the Episcopal Church and the wearer’s seminary sewn on either end.
For the Eucharist, the leaders of the service wear albs, which are long, white robes with a cincture or rope around the waist. The clergy also wear stoles, long, narrow bands of fabric around their necks; stoles correspond in color to the liturgical season. The season in summer is Pentecost, which is green but will then change to blue, which is the color associated with Advent. The stole represents being yoked to Christ. Deacons wear the stole over the left shoulder and tied under the right arm so it appears as a diagonal.
Many of the vestments worn today are a stylized adaptation of Roman street clothing and have become associated with worship over time.