I know quite a few nuns with habits! Mostly good habits and not vices, I mean
Seriously though, I think there is a real problem for vocations when the “old” habits are discarded and less traditional garb is donned.
I personally think there is an identity issue: when one wears the traditional habit, one knows who one is, everybody knows who one is, and that is a Christian in the Latin Catholic tradition of prayer who is in the world but not of the world. One knows that one is a Christian of the Latin Catholic tradition, and one can more easily identify with the Latin Catholic clergy, monks and nuns of previous centuries.
But when the traditional habit is removed…just who are you? Yes, there is a true interior conviction that you are a Latin Catholic nun, monk or priest, but your exterior clothing doesn’t completely reflect this personal reality. You look both like still a member of the world while not a member of the world at the same time. Especially considering the fact that what is expressive of “Latin Christianity” (guitar Masses?, charismatic movement?, [edited by Moderator] Protestant hymns?, Divine Mercy?, TLM?, etc.) is not universally clear, the change in habits only goes to exacerbate the problem by further disconnecting the present religious life from the religious life of previous centuries in the Church.
I always am amazed at the number of priests (especially Jesuits it seems) who, unless they’re serving at Mass, are barely distinguishible from secular businesspersons or professors.
I don’t buy the argument that the discarding of traditional habits is in keeping with VII’s desire to make things “less ornate,” or the idea that this emphasizes how both lay and religious are both called to holiness (watering down one to meet the other is not the solution).
A few months ago I went to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. There I witnessed the Papal Tiara of Paul VI. While standing there, I thought to myself: the act of discarding the papal tiara, rather than being an act of humility as it’s commonly viewed to be, seems to me much rather to be an act filled with pride, shame and disrespect of the papal office.