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What is a Dress Code?

A set of rules, usually written and posted, specifying the required manner of dress at a school, office, club, restaurant, etc.

You might have been to parties or gatherings, where dress code is as one of the major conditions. Dress code can be anything related to dress or clothing you wear. There are many places, where dress codes come under the terms and conditions of an organization or company. Dress codes can be described as written or unwritten rules on clothing. Dress code has turned into social significance; it is not just about aspects of human physical experience. It's follows different rules with certain expectations, which are valid for specific occasion or circumstance. If take the common lifestyle under consideration, an individual has to follows two or three dress codes almost every day (like dress code of the office, home etc). The ability to navigate between different dress codes is the visible outcome of cultural adaptation. The most common example of dress code can be witnessed of different cultures and societies, where Western styles have left quite huge impact.

Every dress code follows certain signals and rules that indicates or conveys a message. This message is generally reflected by the person's clothing or way of wearing the cloth. The message can be reflected related to the indication of the individual's gender, social class, income, religious or ethnic affiliation, fashion trends, marital status, sexual orientation, sexual availability, traditions etc. Clothes also express other social traits including the display of cultural or personal identity, defying norms of social group, the establishing and appreciating functionality and comfort.

Wearing expensive clothes is one of the commonest ways to show off wealth, clothes act as the cheapest mode to communicate wealth. But not all rich people stick to clothing as status. In fact there are many who wear inexpensive clothes carrying the same features or qualities. Observers notice the quality and features of the clothing, thus lending on wrong factors. This shows that clothes can communicate social status, even if not intended.

Dress Codes based on Gender
There is quite a variety of clothing that is specifically or predominantly worn by either men or women. For example, skirt is considered to be a feminine dress, while pants or trousers are a part of male clothing.

Social status and Dress Codes
Many active societies make use of particular clothing to designate social status. This type of clothing is mostly reserved and affordable only by high rank people. For example, only the senators of Ancient Rome held permission to wear Tyrian purple dyed garments; and in Hawaiian society or tradition, only chiefs holding high-ranking had the permission to wear craved whale teeth or palaoa and feather cloaks. Before introduction of republic in China, yellow could only be worn by the emperor.

Dress Codes for Occupations
People, who work in military, fire fighting squads, police, and hospital wear uniforms. Apart from these, there are various other industries, where dress code plays a common role. School uniforms and academic dresses are some of the other examples. Wearing school uniforms are made compulsory in most of the schools, while academic dresses of universities are rarely worn by students. Members of religious organization or orders wear uniforms that carries symbol of their order. Sometimes one single accessory or item of clothing can communicate the individual's occupation or position within a profession.

Private dress codes
Private organizations usually insist on wearing particular dress codes for particular situations. Similarly religious bodies may set certain standards for any particular event. People, working in commercial or multinational companies are required to meeting certain standards of clothing or wear a uniform, such as wearing a tie or a business suit. The type or form of clothing may vary from situation to situation; for example, if you work in a customer service department, you would be expected to wear simple clothing and interact with the customers. With industries, policies also vary where executives, lawyers and bankers often wear tie and suit. Even wearing tattoos are restricted in some profession or some places.

Most of the schools keep dress codes for their students as well as teachers. At such places, students wear school uniform during classes or while travelling from one place to another on behalf of the school. Schools also put dress codes or different uniform for special events, like sport uniform for sporting occasions.

Patrons and employees of nightclub or disco are expected to wear particular type of clothing; such as club wear. Many disco or nightclub also put dress codes for visitors or guests. If the guest is not found in ordered dress code, he/she is not allowed to enter the venue. Patrons or employees of a shop, casino, or restaurant are usually ordered to join work in smart casuals, so as to maintain uniformity among workers.

Nowadays, the trend of theme parties is in, where guests are requested to come dressed in specific costumes, color or dresses that matches the theme of the event. Patrons of Fetish clubs are found dressed in fetish clothing. If not, you are likely to see people dressed black all over the place.

Dress codes are put for certain social occasions. Many jobs also come tagged with dress codes. For example, military institution demands students to wear specified uniforms. Even plain clothes are not allowed inside military institutions; other than uniforms any other type of clothing is restricted.

A "white tie" or "formal" dress code typically signifies evening dresses for females and and tail-coats for males; on the other hand, the term "Semi-formal" is much less precise, where a dress is for female and evening jacket and tie is for males. "Business casuals" are highly confused with wearing suits and neckties, but it's about wearing country trousers and collared shirts (the color of clothing is not black, but has more relaxed color and texture). While "casual" is a word used typically for clothing, which includes clothing for legs, shoes and torso; "Wedding Casual" redefines the mode of dress. It is an occasion, where guests dress more respectfully, than being fancily.

Organizations seeking to maintain or put high standards of modesty wear see-through or sheer clothing, which is quite difficult to carry among people. If taken the whole thing under consideration, dress codes have set almost no limits or barriers on body covering. However, there are quite a few instances, where it specifies just the opposite. In UK gay jargon, there is a different meaning of dress code; here dress code means being dressed in militaristic manner. Moreover, dress code nightclubs, or elsewhere, are deemed as a place for people having militaristic fetishes.