At theology school, I developed a passion for various Christian Cultures. I was especially intrigued by the monastics’ mode of dressing. During my research, I visited several orders of nuns and learned a lot from the nuns and monks of different Christian denominations. Last week, one of my theologian college student asked me to explain the mode of dressing among nuns. As a theologian who had done adequate research on the topic, I could answer this question comprehensively. So, what are nun’s outfits called?
A nun’s outfit is referred to as a habit. The same name is given to a monk’s outfit. Monastics are given these garments during their ordination ceremonies after they take their vows of dedication to serve their religious practice. Habits are supposed to ensure a simple appearance void of excessive materialism of the world.
In this article, I invite you to dive into the topic of nuns’ outfits and uncover answers to questions such as how many clothes nuns wear as part of their outfits and what are the elements of a nun’s habit called. Read on to find out more about this topic!
How many clothes do nuns have to wear as part of their outfits?
The number of clothes a nun wears typically depends on her congregation. Different orders of nuns have different modes of clothing, symbolizing what they stand for. Generally, a habit comprises several pieces. However, the specifics may differ in some congregations.
A standard habit has the following parts:
- Tunic- a simple loose-fitting garment made using fabric and pleated at the top and flows to the ground. Usually knee-length or longer, with long- sleeves. The gown is belted at the waist and is the main component of the habit. The habit can be pinned up or at the front when the nun needs to work.
- Scapular- the scapular is a symbolic apron worn over the tunic. It is comprehensive and flows from the back to the front of the habit. The scapular protects the tunic and provides more coverage to the nun.
- Veil- A veil is worn over the coif. Veils are usually of different colors ranging from white, black, and grey. Other colors are used to identify proposed nuns from novitiates. The veil can be worn to cover the face entirely or worn up to expose it according to the order rules.
- Wimple- a head-covering that is drdrapedround the head. It covers the chin and the neck. It is often worn together with the veil.
- Coif- a close-fitting cap that covers the head and the neck. Usually white.
However, note that as time changes, different orders have changed their habits to suit more into their contemporary lives. Also, some orders which the wave of modernization has swamped have simplified habits that are more practical and enable them to conduct their day errands. Therefore, the number of clothes nuns have to wear as part of their outfits depends on their choices and the regulations of their specific order.
What are the parts of a nun’s habit called?
A nun’s habit has many parts. The following is a description of the whole attire.
White coif- a coif is a white cotton close-fitting cap that covers the head and neck. A Cornette may be used in conjunction with the coif at times.
Veil – The veil is worn attached to the coif using a pin. Veils can be worn to cover the whole face or part of it. Coverings vary in color, from black, white, grey, brown, and cream. The different colors are used to differentiate a proposed nun from a novice.
Tunic– The tunic is the central part of the habit. It is a long knee-length fabric, pleated at the top and flowing down to the bottom. It is practical as it can be worn up to allow nuns to work.
Woolen belt – most orders wear a woolen belt on their waste to hold the habit.
Rosary- most nuns have rosaries hanging on their habits. The rosaries are made of wooden beads and are held on the habit by small hooks.
Sleeves– the habit comprises two sleeves: an outer sleeve and an inner one. The outer sleeve can be rolled up if a nun needs to work.
Cross– Most nuns have a cross hanging from their neck to their scapular.
Ring- Proposed nuns wear a ring to show their marriage to the church and symbolize their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Scapular- scapular is a symbolic apron that is worn over the tunic. It is comprehensive and flows from the back to the front of the habit. The scapular protects the tunic and provides more coverage to the nun.
Apron- nuns can wear different kinds of aprons to protect their habit from dirt while working.
Shoes- simple black shoes are the most functional.
Not all nuns adhere to this dressing order, as their demands may dictate otherwise.
Do nuns have to wear all parts of their habits every day?
The part of a nun’s attire depends on the order that she comes from. However, nuns’ habits have been known to symbolize their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and their dedication to serving their respective religious practice. However, over time, some nuns have adopted a more modernized dressing style.
The parts of a habit that a nun chooses to wear are solely dependent on her personal choice as well as the rules of her congregation.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.