As I think you all know, the monks wear black robes. They wear them to the prayer services and to the meals and other times as they wish (I'm sure there are a few other rules about the when and were of robes, but that's a basic overview). I found out today that monks in the tropics wear white robes because of the heat.
Anyway, I was thinking about how the robes both serve as a way of not calling attention to the monk and calling attention to the monk at the same time. An analogous example is the tuxedo. The purpose of a tuxedo is not to call attention to the gentleman, but to put the focus squarely where it should be -- on his beautiful date. All tuxedos basically look the same so that the men are unimportant and uninteresting, while the women are God's gifts to the world. The robes of the monk also serve some of that same function. There is no way for the monk to call attention to himself by wearing something extravagant or overly interesting -- he looks like all of his brothers and our attention is to be focused on their lover -- the Eternal Lover, God.
On the other hand, in today's society, the robes are so out of the ordinary that they are almost exotic. My guess is that the monks get a lot of stares when they wear their robes outside of the monastery. There is an inherent sense of "otherness" that comes with donning the Benedictine robes, and it may help the monk remember that he is somewhat separated from the rest of the world. I wonder if that sense of "otherness" makes the monks more effective ministers to those in our society who aren't a part of it themselves -- the poor, the disabled, the oppressed. Those people who are excluded from mainstream society may be better understood by those who are also on the borders of our society.