Introducing…The Ultimate Mission Trip Style Guide – A Man’s Perspective.
Here’s what you need to know before we begin. I love fashion. Seriously, I do. Odd, perhaps, but a skill that was vital to my courting of Amy. In the beginning of our relationship and our marriage, I purchased all of Amy’s clothes for her. It brought me and brings me great joy to see Amy LOVE what she is wearing and feel outstanding in it! In fact, just the other day we were discussing the type / style of jeans that she was going to get back in the states. The discussion hit all the high points, fit, color, stitching, etc. Ya know??! Right?
What’s up with your hat?
Anyway, my personal style has always been comfortable and eclectic. At some point early on in my style journey, I realized that I would funnel most resources to Amy and her style because that brought me joy and I would focus on socks and hats, of which I have, well a lot. (Note: Just the other day, I received an awesome pair of taco socks!).
In fact some of you may ask why on earth do you wear those things, especially at work? I would answer that it requires me to be extra sharp, intelligent and productive for anyone to take me seriously when I am wearing an Ernie hat to a presentation I am giving or pink frog socks to an interview. So there ya have it.
Bad Habits…Die Hard
Anyway, early on in the mission field as early as 2007 I realized the need for a unique and effective mission trip style as a guy. One could chart back and ask my bunk mates on our first few trips to Belize about my habit of crawling into the bed without showering. Not so bad except that you could figure I had been ringing out sweat from my shirt / shorts all day and probably could qualify myself as a salt block to salt meat in the evenings….GROSS. I know.
Showering: Our Belize staff find it comical that I have gone a whole week without showering on a mission trip lets make that multiple trips. Don’t you stink is the obvious question? And the answer is no. Seriously, I am not just saying this. Amy can attest. Really I don’t. However, not showering for a whole week is a bit much, even for me.
Dental Hygiene: This summer I was in Dangriga and we were packing up at the end of the week to come home. I said “wow there’s my toothbrush.” To which Andy my roommate said “wait have you not brushed your teeth all week?” I just looked laughed and smiled….a smile that probably had something stuck between the teeth. But hey when you have gapped teeth…the need for brushing diminishes quickly!
The Basics and the Not so Basics…
(Note: the rest of this blog will not touch on church wear, which is specific per location. In Belize, I am wearing slacks, nice shoes, and a button up long-sleeved shirt every week)
- T-shirt – This is the quintessential outerwear. T-shirts are multi-functional. They absorb sweat are trendy in design, usually come free with a mission trip, and as a bonus are awesome surfaces for those paint or cement wars that are bound to happen during the construction project. Seriously, I wear t-shirts all day every day. In fact my mission trip t-shirt collection is growing at a clip that is alarming and may necessitate a mission trip t-shirt quilt here soon.
- Athletic Shorts – Most people, myself included, as participants desire to wear athletic shorts. Should a basketball or futbol game break out, you are already prepared. They are also the most breathable for those tropical climates.
- Alternate shorts – As I have begun to lead more trips, I find the cargo pockets with buttons quite resourceful.
- Eye-wear – Let’s be clear safety first so protective eye-wear while on site. BUT this is a style guide. I am prone to wear sunglasses ALWAYS. I do NOT recommend bringing your best pair of Oakleys or Ray Bans or other sunglasses over 15 USD per pair. They seem to either get paint on them, or fly off typically into a body of water. But Sunglasses are a must! Ask those who I lead, I am usually wearing Amy’s sunglasses and bartering for a more extravagant pair.
- Footwear – Tennis as they are referred to in Belize is the preferred shoe of choice. Recently, since May, I have made the switch to Chacos and I must say, Chaco tan lines are quite nice!
- Headgear – A well-worn hat is a must for any mission trip. I had a hat that was getting into the double digits for number of mission trips worn on, then a sad sad day happened. A delayed plane, arms full of kids and an untimely connection in Miami resulted in the hat flying off my head mid sprint through the airport. Hence mission hat is no more.
- Facial Hair – This is where we move into the more advanced style. Facial hair can be a tool for ministry or a point of gawking by locals or both. My good friend and co-worker Eric is working his Duck Dynasty beard. I personally have rocked Fu-Man-Chu and Mutton Chops. My recommendation is that whatever you do be dedicated to it and own it. It’s much more fun that way!
For the female readers, you are probably thinking to yourself, this stuff is worthless for me, which aside from entertainment value it is.
My real motivation for writing this post was that a group of my female co-workers and fellow mission trip leaders wrote a series of their ultimate mission trip style guide. I thought it was brilliant! And I thought the male voice was under-served!
They got some serious publicity and even are pinned on Pinterst. Here is a listing of all their posts.
- Hunger Games Hair – How to do and deal with Braids, Jamaican style – Read Here
- Wet Hair Don’t Care – Do you or do you not blow dry your hair? – Read Here
- Pretty Little Dresses – A focus on modesty with style in the mission field – Read Here
- Stealing from the Boys – The multi-faceted uses of the white v-neck – Read Here
- Make Down or Make Up – The perpetual battle of to wear or not to wear make up on the field – Read Here
- Make it a Group Thing – Suggestions on utilizing group t-shirts – Read Here
- A Chaco Tan Line, What every missionary needs – Read Here
- You Smell Nice – how to stay dry and fresh – Read Here
- The Heart Behind it all – The motivation from our staff on why we wrote these posts- Read Here
So there ya have it your ultimate mission trip style guide. It is now complete with bad habits not to emulate, practical advice from the man’s perspective and several different (and more useful) posts from some of my female coworkers. Now as you prepare for your mission trip in 2014, style in the mission field is a burden you no longer have to carry. Refer back here, pack appropriately and serve on!