Once the distinctive vestment of subdeacons in the western church, the tunicle is now obsolete. The term is from the Latin tunicula, which is the diminutive of tunica, “tunic.” The tunic was a long, loose-fitting garment that was worn by men and women in ancient Greece and Rome. The tunicle was originally a white tunic with narrow sleeves. In the middle ages it evolved to resemble the dalmatic, with only one horizontal orphrey. Anglicans abolished the subdiaconate in the sixteenth century, and Roman Catholics “suppressed” it after Vatican II. Parishes of the Episcopal Church that use a “subdeacon” in the liturgy sometimes dress this person (who may be of any order) in a tunicle. The similar tunic worn by crucifers in some places is not properly a tunicle.
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.