And here we have what was a fact of life in pre-conciliar times. Before the days of the “modified habit” which, in many cases, meant “modified” to the point of being nothing more than a lapel pin. Why bother? Yes, the habit did speak, and it spoke volumes.
The sisters I had in high school modified their traditional habit in 1964. That habit was still full length, with full veil and wimple, but with single sleeves, and a “Peter Pan” type collar and soft cloth “bib” instead of the linen (or litholin) gamph. Altogether it was actually nicer than the old one. Too bad it was short-lived. In late 1967, they went shopping, and after that fateful day, no two wore the same dress. (How surprising.) One had a collection of cute little shifts with two vertical rows of three big buttons each. (We won’t discuss where the top two buttons were in relation to the anatomy.) And she had them in several colors.
The only “uniform” item was a silly little veil (maybe neck length) that was attached to the hair with a bobby pin. And even that vanished after 1970. That’s when the entire “habit” it became a lapel pin.
I knew the former Mother General (a very lovely woman, may she rest in peace) fairly well, and she (along with a few more of the “old timers”) continued to wear some sort of pseudo-habit. In early 1968 I asked why she abandoned the modified habit. The answer, with a tear in her eye: “The new administration forbade it being worn. We were told to throw them in the garbage. No exceptions.” (BTW, she was Mother General in 1964, when the modified habit was adopted. Her term of office expired in 1966.)
And then I recall visiting a hospital in the Charity-Bonsecours system a few years ago. The administrators were supposedly Sisters of Charity. Their distinguishing mark? A lapel pin. I’m sure Mother Seton would be thrilled.
The stories of mini-habits (whether cloth or pins) are legion. Hollywood seems to know that a habit is significant. (How many films has anyone seen that depict what I will call mini-nuns?)
In the end, I agree with the OP: it’s edifying and encouraging to know that there are still a few Orders of nuns and congregations of religious sisters that adhere to tradition, and continue to wear a habit.