"Oh, what a lovely cape. Is it mink?"
Did they ever go out?
For some priests, yes. I have a friend who while still a parish priest complained that the new rector of a minor seminary near him had all the men dress in cassocks. "I wouldn't be caught dead in one." Now he's a bishop and has little choice in the matter. It isn't just my 'age group' of men who are priests who prefer suit to cassock, yet those who do seem to be out of favor these days. (I have friends who are priests who despise the biretta as well. Not a few devout Catholics are waiting for them to die.)
That said, as many Catholics in the blogisterium already know, the Vatican (Bertone) issued a memo reinforcing the dress code for Vatican employees. It makes sense. Evidently it is a signal for the rest of the world as well:
Tornielli said the letter was aimed at refreshing the minds of those who work at the Vatican but also to say that this extends beyond the walls of the Holy See. He added, “it is very rare for priests in the Apostolic Palace not to dress like priests.”
“The call for priests to be more law-abiding and look impeccable is meant to be a subtle example for those who come to the Vatican from outside and are just passing through Rome,” Tornielli said.
Cardinal Bertone's letter, written at Pope Benedict's bidding, recalls a 1982 letter of Pope John Paul II to his vicar general encouraging him to “study opportune initiatives destined to foster the use of ecclesiastical and religious dress.”
Cardinal Bertone said that bishops should faithfully wear the cassock every day during office hours at the Vatican as an example to the clerics who visit the Holy See.Men in cassocks - very picturesque, and even more fun to paint.
He reminded clerics that at official and papal events, they are to wear the more formal “abito piano.” For bishops and cardinals, this is a cassock with an embroidered cape; for monsignors, a black cassock with piping of Roman purple; and for priests, a cassock with cape. - CNA
Just stay away from fur Father.