Every member of the Orthodox Church, be it the minister, the priest and the bishop, needs the right tools and vestments to carry out his ministry. Clergy vestments and clerical shirts need not be expensive or designer works; in fact the focus of these clothes should be more on representing the prayers that the clergy says as he puts on each item of the church vestments. These prayers are taken from the Psalm and represent thanks to the Almighty for providing "Garments of salvation" and "Robes of Gladness".
The word vestment is derived from the Latin word "vestis" which means garments. The origin of clerical shirts can be traced to the secular dress code of the Greco-Roman world. These vestments do not just consist of robes and gowns but also include stoles, head pieces, sashes, and stockings. The clergy staff, which has great ritualistic significance, is also often considered to be a part of clergy vestments.
Over the years, the clergy vestments have undergone tremendous amount of change; the Renaissance period and the Middle Ages being the great influential factors.
In the Orthodox Church, the three outer garments of clergy vestments represent the differences in ranks of the clergy. The Sticharion is a garment worn by all ranks generally during Baptism. This is usually white in color and lightweight. The Orarion is a narrow strip of cloth reaching the ankles on both sides-front and back. This is usually worn on the left shoulder. The Epitrachelion, is a stole worn by both priests and Bishops. This is worn around the neck and has an opening for the head.