Shabbat 57 - What a woman may not wear outside

Wearing clothes is perfectly permitted on Shabbat. However, jewelry and ornaments could present a problem: a woman might take them off, to show off to a friend, and then forget to put them back on and carry in a public area, thus violating Shabbat. The Sages composed a list of items that may not be warn on Shabbat, to prevent this possibility.

A woman may not go outside on Shabbat wearing either woolen strands or linen strands, or straps on her head, and she may not immerse herself in a mikveh while wearing them, until she loosens them.

What does mikveh have to do with it? - It actually gives another reason: if a chance to perform a mikveh immersion (such as needed for eating tithe) will present itself, she may take them off, immerse herself, and then forget  to tie them back and come to carry in a public area.

Neither may she go out with a "totefet" - an ornamental band going to from one ear to the other, made either of colored strands or of gold or silver. It is called a "totefet" because it is warn in the place of tefillin.

Some say that the prohibition is not only against wearing these items in a public area, but even in one's own courtyard, for she may then forget and step outside. Regardless of the rules above, it was a custom of Jewish women to wear jewelry and ornaments on Shabbat as far back as the tenth century. The reason for it is a subject of much discussion.

Art: Isidor Kaufmann - A Jewish Bride