What Are Some Traditional Habits of Catholic Nuns?

Some traditional habits of Catholic nuns include garments worn by the Order of Saint Clare, the Missionaries of Charity and the Sisters of the Annunciation. The habit of the Order of Saint Clare is brown with a black veil. The habit of the Missionaries of Charity, which is blue and white, is inspired by the sari, which is a traditional south Asian garment for women. The Sisters of the Annunciation wear white habits with black veils and red scapulars.

Traditional habits consist of a tunic covered by a scapular, cowl and veil. Some traditional nuns wear a woolen belt, rosary and special ring that indicate that the nun took a special vow. Different orders adhere to different styles of dress that change over time.

Since the Second Vatican Council, fewer nuns wear the full traditional habit. A decree called "Perfectae Caritatis" counseled monks and nuns to adapt religious habits in more practical ways. It did not advise them to dispose of the habit altogether, leaving the decision to each community. In contemporary times, people can often identify nuns simply by a gold cross on a necklace or pin. Some followers of other faiths, such as Buddhism, Islam and Jainism, also wear habits or special religious clothing.