By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
There is an interesting Rashi and Ran in Nedarim that notes a custom for women to remove their Shabbat jewelry on Shabbat afternoons towards the end of the day. Based on this, the Shu”t Gur Aryeh Yehuda argues that the requirement to wear Shabbat clothes is no longer in force from late afternoon onwards. In fact, there is a custom among certain Chassidim who generally wear flowery or colorful bekeshes on Shabbat to wear a plain black bekeshe from mincha time until the conclusion of Shabbat. The Erech Shai says the reason one is not required to wear Shabbat clothes at this time is to recall that Yosef, Moshe, and David passed away Shabbat afternoon. Indeed it is for this reason that Shabbat afternoon has a slightly mournful flavor to it, a topic which will be dealt with in a future post.
Other authorities dismiss the alleged source from Rashi and Ran in Nedarim that there is no longer a requirement to wear Shabbat clothes during the later hours of the afternoon. These authorities argue that the Nedarim citation, if halachically admissible at all, applies only to jewelry just like it says and can not be extended to include any other Shabbat clothing. Indeed, the Magen Avraham rules that one should not remove one’s Shabbat clothes until after Havdala.
However the Tzitz Eliezer argues that it is possible that the Magen Avraham may not truly hold that one is required to wear one’s Shabbat clothing until after Havdalla. So too, the Machatzit Hashekel seems to imply that it was common to remove one’s Shabbat clothes in the afternoon. It is also suggested that removing one’s Shabbat clothes is only permissible if one continues to wear at least one Shabbat garment along with the other clothes one changes into. This would be consistent with the Chassidic custom cited above where it is implied that it is only the Shabbat bekeshe which is removed while the other Shabbat clothes, such as the pants and shoes, continue to be worn until Havdalla.
While the sources cited above are somewhat dubious, unclear, and should not be followed halacha l’maaseh, I just may have found some kind of source or limud zechut for the widespread subconscious North American “minhag” of not wearing a tie (and other dress-down practices) when going to the synagogue for mincha on Shabbat afternoons.
 Nedarim 77. All sources cited are taken from Shalom Rav, Shaar Hahalacha, 7:7.
 OC 13.
 Cited in Shalom Rav, shaar hahalacha, 7:7.
 OC 262.
 Orchot Chaim, OC 300:2.
 OC 262:2
 Tzitz Eliezer 14:34:2.
 OC 262:2