In the end, the choice of black for the nuns’ habits boils down to penitence, which is fundamental to Catholicism in general. Black equals regret and forgiveness. OnePeterFive explains that the color black is also associated with giving up worldly desires and egos to be “Brides of Christ.” The black habit, in a way, looks kind of like a wedding dress by “The Other Beauty.” “Habit doesn’t make the monk,” says OnePeterFive, “but outer choices reinforce inner values.” Replacing all clothing with the obligatory and refined black color “accustoms our bodies and souls to the ascetic life.” In addition, Aleteia says black was the cheapest color available in the sixth century when the Benedictine Order was established – one of the oldest orders of monks.
This last point raises a pivotal issue not only in the choice of black for the nuns’ habits, but in the nuns’ clothing in general. Namely: The nuns’ habits didn’t appear overnight—they’re the byproduct of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years of accumulated rules. OnePeterFive says that the scapula, for example — an apron-like piece that wraps around the shoulders — dates back to Saint Benedictine and symbolizes the burden of a pious life. The worm that wraps around the head and neck, by contrast, did not appear until the 13th century. It was adopted for reasons of modesty, as it was for married women. On the other hand, veils have existed across many cultures dating back thousands of years.