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The rema writes in סימן תקנ"א that on shabbat chazon one does not wear shabbat clothing and instead one wears weekday clothing.

אפי' בשבת של חזון אין מחליפין ללבוש בגדי שבת כי אם הכתונת לבד (מרדכי הל' ט"ב והגהות אשירי פ"ד דתענית ואגודה ורוקח)

Nowadays in many ashkenazi communities the custom seemingly is to wear shabbat clothes on shabbat chazon. When and how did the custom change in ashkenazi communities.

  • IMHO, R. Mordechai -the source- is misapplied to today’s garb. See for example resp. Maharshal §27. – Oliver Aug 9 at 15:17
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Aruch HaShulchan Orach Chayyim 551:11 (writing at the end of the nineteenth century CE) notes that two or three generations prior to his time the custom had changed (amongst the Jews of Lita) such that people wore shabbat clothes on Shabbat Chazon.

He suggests that the reason for this change is that shabbat clothes had become noticeably different from weekday clothing, so that not changing one’s clothes for Shabbat Chazon would be displaying mourning publicly on shabbat, which is not allowed.

(He goes on to note that in his time shabbat and weekday clothing had become similar again, so that in his view the old custom of not changing should be reinstated.)

  • Is there any evidence for this claim? It's such a stretch. Seems so much more likely it stopped because the Gra and Arizal opposed it. – Double AA Aug 9 at 11:32
  • @DoubleAA I have heard that Gra opposed it. Do you have a source? Biur Hagra just writes that is a chumrah be’alma... – Joel K Aug 9 at 13:16
  • @DoubleAA I second your skepticism. More-so, much before the Arizal even the tune of Eichah for the haftarah was suppressed/disallowed bec. it demonstrates aveilut but full weekday attire was OK? Doesn’t add up. (It points to my assumption here.) – Oliver Aug 9 at 15:23
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    @JoelK The Gra’s opposition is also recorded in the Maaseh Rav (§197). – Oliver Aug 9 at 15:31
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Aruch HaShulchan 551:11

ודע שאצלינו יש שנים או שלושה דורות שאין נוהגין כמנהג הזה בשבת חזון, אלא לובשין כל בגדי שבת. וגדולי הדור שהיו אז הנהיגו כן, באמרם שזהו כמראים אבילות בשבת בפרהסיא.

It is important to note that for the past two or three generations we have not been following this minhag [of wearing weekday clothing] on Shabbos Chazon, but we dress like a regular Shabbos. The greats of that generation acted thusly by saying that it would be like mourning publicly on Shabbos.

ולכן אפילו בשבת שחל בו תשעה באב ונדחה – אנו לובשין בגדי שבת מטעם זה. ולכן בימינו אלה, כמעט נשכח הדבר שאין ללבוש בגדי שבת בשבת חזון.ותמוה אצלי דבר זה, דאטו קדמונינו לא ידעו זה? ועם כל זה נהגו בזה, אף שאינו כן מדינא; ואיך נבטל מנהגם?

Therefore, it is for this very reason that even when when Tisha Baav falls on Shabbos, we still wear regular Shabbos clothes like normal. It therefore seems that this practice of refraining from wearing Shabbos clothes on Shabbos Chazon has been very much forgotten these days. I personally find this perplexing. Did the ones who originally instituted this [practice which Rama is quoting from] not know this? Of course they did, and nonetheless acted this way regardless of the slight pushing of the law’s boundaries. How, then, can we push away their practices?

ולכן נראה לעניות דעתי דזה תלוי באופן ההלבשה. דאצל הקדמונים היתה הלבשת שבת וחול שווים בדמותם ובתמונתם, אלא שההפרש היה בין סחורה יקרה ובין סחורה פשוטה, ולא היה ההפרש ניכר כל כך, שהרי עניים גם בשבת יוצאין בסחורה פשוטה.

Therefore, it is my humble opinion that this entire discussion revolves around the difference of manner in dressing. The earlier generations’ garments were indistinguishable in there appearance between Shabbos and weekday. It was only a difference in quality; some expensive and some simple. The difference, however, was barely intelligible. The poor would even regularly wear the simple-ware on Shabbos!

ולכן הנהיגו ללבוש בגדי חול.מה שאין כן זה כמה דורות מקודם, שבשבת היתה תמונה אחרת לגמרי להבגדים, בין עני בין עשיר. כמו שבחול היו נושאין כובע של קלאפי"ן, ובשבת שטריימי"ל. וכן שארי בגדים – היה ניכר לכל שזה בגד חול, כמו קיטאי"י, וזה בגד שבת, כמו של משי לעשיר, ומשי פשוט לעני. ולפיכך הנהיגו הגדולים שלא לנהוג מנהג זה, מפני שההפרש ניכר הרבה, והוי כאבילות בשבת.

Therefore, they were able to wear weekday clothes on Shabbos. This was not the case only a few generations ago. Shabbos clothing had an entirely different look to them regardless of quality and cost. For example, during the week they would wear a kalpin hat, and on Shabbos a shtreimel hat. Weekday garments like kitai, could be easily distinguished between the silk Shabbos garments which both the poor and rich man would wear. This is precisely why they ended this practice, because the difference was now so great that it would be as if they were mourning on Shabbos.

ולכן אני אומר דבזמנינו זה, שעל פי פקודת המלכות כבר החלפנו תמונת הבגדים, ושבת וחול תמונה אחת להן, אלא שההפרש בין זול ליוקר – וודאי נכון לקיים מנהג הקדמונים.(כן נראה לעניות דעתי. ודע דזה שנתבאר בסעיף ט דבכל חדש אב לישתמט אינש וכו', מבואר בזוהר יתרו דף עח ב דרק עד תשעה באב לישתמיט ולא יותר, עיין שם.)

Therefore, I must end by saying that in our country the standards have been reset through governmental intervention, and our garments are once again indistinguishable. The only differing factor is the price and quality. In my humble opinion, it seems that we should reinstate this practice of yesteryear.

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