The typical religious clothing that one could associate with a believer of the catholic faith is usually black and white. Over centuries, it has become the iconic clothing of catholic monks, clergymen and nuns. Minor variations in the attire are present to denote the hierarchical position or religious designation, as one would call it within the religious order. For example, novices are nuns who are new in a convent and they are usually required to wear a belt round their waist or an apron of a different color. These attires of specific colors are symbolic and have their own importance in denoting the catholic faith. It is also spiritually significant in the sense that it represents the spiritual journey that the woman chooses to undertake by devoting her life to the service of God.
Sometimes catholic wear for novices differ from convent to convent. It is also determined by the kind of service rendered by these nuns in making. The headpiece of a novice as commonly seen in the convents of the United States and places in Western Europe is white in color. White is the symbol of purity and hence the color. The rest of the catholic clothing is however in shade of gray or white. These white bands, gray attires are all symbolic of the same basic motive of purity, chastity and serenity. When the person professionally becomes a nun, or during the last and final stage of a novice, a black attire is given to them, the duration of which lasts for about half or one year.
Temporary professions as a nun also exist. These are usually for a period of three to six months. The attire worn by these nuns are like that of the recognizable long habit. There exist monasteries like Sacred Heart or Carmelite monastery that ask the nun in temporary profession to wear a white veil during her service. Nuns engaged in the missionaries of charity don a blue and white striped habit or catholic clothing. For example, missionaries in India require nuns to wear an Indian style white sari with a blue border.
Catholic clothing of the church has evolved over centuries and has existed since the 5th century. In earlier times, nuns wore veils because the concept prevailed that they were similar to ordinary married women, but as brides of Christ. Black Christian clothing came to fashion as indicative of repentance. Wimple was added to the attire as per prevalent trends, and was introduced during the middle ages. The tradition of a separate attire for the people of the church probably originated for identifying their occupation amidst the normal crowd. The robe like attire for both monks and nuns have undergone minor changes over the years but the basic concept remains the same.
Catholic clothing is worn by common people, usually at religious gatherings like funerals, weddings or other ceremonies. Even during such occasions, black denotes mourning while white, happy celebrations. The attire however can be like any normal attire worn by people.