The Habit

By Elizabeth Kuhns,

Book cover of The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns

Book description

Curiosity about nuns and their distinctive clothing is almost as old as Catholicism itself. The habit intrigues the religious and the nonreligious alike, from medieval maidens to contemporary schoolboys, to feminists and other social critics. The first book to explore the symbolism of this attire, The Habit presents a visual…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Habit as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book explores the origins and evolution of nuns’ habits, explaining why religious women initially chose distinctive attire and how their relations to what, in the end, we must call fashion, evolved. There is great stuff here on schisms between progressive feminists who called for reform and traditionalists who insisted on elaborate and cumbersome clothing. The book is broadly sympathetic to its subject—unlike some religious studies work that adopts a stance of cosmopolitan opposition to religious faith. But it is also probing and savvy: Kuhn highlights the inherent tension between a garment that is supposed to reflect modesty but is also conspicuous…

From Richard's list on how fashion shaped our history.

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