Vestments are ceremonial garments worn by religious functionaries while performing sacred rites. In many religious traditions, priests wear clothing that distinguishes them from the nonreligious. Vestments, however, are associated with specific rituals and were traditionally given symbolic meanings.
All of these garments are of early Christian origin (the stole, alb, and chasuble were derived from 4th-century Roman dress) and had become the liturgical norm by the 10th century. Later, other originally nonliturgical garments entered liturgical use. The black, full-length cassock, originally the outdoor dress of clergymen, was retained under the liturgical vestments.
Although the priests of ancient Judaism had elaborate sacerdotal vestments, prescribed in Exodus 28, these disappeared, along with the priestly function, after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Modern rabbis generally wear black gowns of the Protestant type during synagogue services.
The process by which ordinary clothing of earlier eras becomes the religious vestments of a later time is also seen in other religious traditions, such as Buddhism and Shinto.