Nuns follow strict rules about the way they dress and how they speak. This is in keeping with their religious vocation. In order to live out this vocation, they must be able to focus on their work without distractions. Their uniforms and habits also help them to distinguish themselves from the world and to find community within their cloistered lives.
From starch white to earthy shades, the colors of nuns’ habits carry meaning. Centuries of tradition account for the hues—Dominicans wear luminous white to symbolize purity and novices’ beginnings, while Carmelites cling to earthy tones to embody humility. Yet deeper symbolism reveals why each shade resonates with sisters who have taken vows of poverty and reliance on God.
Many orders have also adapted their uniforms and habits to reflect their values. The Discalced Carmelites, for instance, are famous for their sandals, which are a reminder of their commitment to reform and an affirmation of the importance of simplicity in life. Other orders have allowed a bit more flexibility in their robes and habits, especially as they engage with modern society and serve the needs of others.
For instance, some Catholic nuns now wear dresses for special occasions. These dresses may even feature a cross. This is to show their dedication to Christ and their faith in him. However, they continue to wear their traditional habits at other times. This is in keeping with their vocation to serve the church and their fellow believers.