ALBS AND CASSOCKS IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
White albs (Latin - white; a liturgical symbol of purity) are worn by our clergy and lay ministers. The alb is typically held in place with a rope-like “girdle”. A less used vestment is a cassock (Latin for “ankle-length garment”) which is usually black. It was once routinely worn underneath albs. Dissimilar to the single breasted Catholic cassock, many Anglican cassocks are often double breasted, and this style can be called a “sarum”. There are traditionally thirty-nine buttons on single breasted Anglican cassocks which may be a tribute to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (Book of Common Prayer, pp 867-876) - or some might say, “Forty stripes save one”. Catholic cassocks often have thirty-three buttons standing for the thirty-three years of Jesus’ earthly life. Canons often wear a black cassock with red piping, while deans wear a black cassock with purple piping; bishops wear purple cassocks. Scarlet cassocks are worn by the Queen’s Chaplains and in some Cambridge College chapels. Cassocks are usually worn with a cincture belt which is a ribbon-like sash worn around the waist which is knotted and its two ends hang down the left side.
~ Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church