Why do nuns wear a habit?
Nuns and sisters wear a habit as a sign of their consecration to
God,to show their unity as a group and to demonstrate that fashion
is nor important.
Not all nuns or sisters wear a habit. Canon law, which is the
legislative authority within the Catholic Church, only states that
they should wear a visible symbol of their consecration. Some nuns
wear a lapel pin or a pendant.
The practice of wearing a habit comes from the idea that to
avoid scandal or temptation they would wear clothes that avoid any
display of human form. A coif (the large white starched linnen item
worn by nuns across the chest) was to prevent the showing of the
In the middle ages, "clothes made the man." That is, one
clothing revealed much about that person's station in life, one's
profession, etc. This is still true in come countries today, but in
the United States most people tend to dress pretty much the same.
The difference would be in uniforms designating persons who fill
certain tasks and are therefore given certain authority: police,
airline pilots, etc.
A religious habit derives from the same motivation: to publicly
show membership in a certain group. As noted above, that sign of
membership may be as small as a pin or encompass one's whole