Albs were originally quite plain, but about the 10th century the custom arose of ornamenting the borders and the cuffs of the sleeves with strips of embroidery, and this became common in the 12th century.
These "apparelled albs" (albae paratae) continued in general use in the Western Church till the 16th century, when a tendency to dispense with the parures began, Rome itself setting the example.
At the present time, so far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, apparelled albs are only in regular use at Milan (Ambrosian Rite), and, partially, in certain churches in Spain.
Uses and not modelled on that of modern Rome, these albs are frequently apparelled.
In the medieval inventories are sometimes found albae, described as red, blue or black; which has led to the belief that albs were sometimes not only made of stuffs other than linen, but were coloured.
Silk albs appear in the inventories, but only very exceptionally.
A white alb plain with a vestment or cope," while the assisting priests or deacons are to wear "albs with tunicles."
A good example of the camisia of the 12th century is the rochet of Thomas Becket, preserved at Dammartin in the Pas de Calais, the only surviving medieval example remarkable for the pleating which, as was the case with albs also, gave greater breadth and more elaborate folds.
Its use was furiously assailed by the extremer Reformers but, in spite of their efforts, was retained by Elizabeth's Act of Uniformity, and enforced by the advertisements and injunctions issued under her authority, which ordered the "massing vestments" - chasubles, albs, stoles and the like - to be destroyed.