What Constitutes an Authentic Nun's Habit?

An authentic nun's habit typically consists of a stiff, face-framing headdress with a long veil attached to the top that hangs down the nun's back, and a wimple, which is a white piece of cloth that extends from the chin to the chest. Besides these accessories, collectively known as a habit, a traditional nun's outfit consists of a long black dress and woven belt, often holding a rosary, along with shoes and stockings.

As of 2015, different orders of nuns wear different variations of a traditional nun's habit. Some orders of nuns wear modified habits instead of traditional ones. A modified habit typically consists of a plain gray dress and simple shoes, as well as the classic nun's headdress. Members of the Order of the Salesian Sisters, in particular, often wear modified habits.

In some orders, the color of a nun's veil indicates what stage of her nunhood she is in. For example, within the Order of the Franciscan Sisters, a nun who has not yet taken her vows wears a white veil with her habit, whereas a nun who has already taken her vows wears a black one. Franciscan nuns also wear simple shoes or sandals with their habits due to their vows of poverty.

Members of the Order of Cistercian Nuns wear extremely traditional outfits, consisting of white, floor-length habits with black headdresses and veils. These accessories are known as scapulars and cinctures, respectively. These nuns wear headdresses in white or black, depending on their places in the Order.