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.