The middle school my sons attend has returned to the practice of requiring a uniform to be worn on campus. It is claimed that such a practice eliminates one way that middle and high schoolers regularly go about distinguishing themselves from one another in order to gain attention, display wealth, or identify themselves with a group. While clearly there are other ways to gain distinction and do these sorts of things, the requirement to wear a specific uniform can often be a relief to students. One major weight seems to be lifted from the minds and hearts of pre-teens and teenagers during a critical developmental period in their lives. At school, when it comes to clothes, everyone is in the same boat.
St. Benedict's instructions on dress seem to be a part of his overall approach to life in common. It boils down to the point at which we each release our claim on Creation as one who must obtain, possess, and secure resources and distinction. I hear Jesus' words in Matthew 6 echoed here: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear." This is a central counter-cultural component of the process of inner transformation that our Father Benedict seeks to nurture among us.