All about robes

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A dragon robe from Qing Dynasty of China

Academic robes

A robe is a loose-fitting outer garment. Unlike garments described as capes or cloaks, robes usually have sleeves. The English word robe derives from Middle English robe ("garment"), borrowed from Old French robe ("booty, spoils"), itself taken from the Frankish word *rouba ("spoils, things stolen, clothes"), and is related to the word rob. There are various types of robes, including:

  • A gown worn as part of the academic regalia of faculty or students, especially for ceremonial occasions, such as a convocations, congregations or graduations.
  • A gown worn as part of the attire of a judge or barrister.
  • A wide variety of long, flowing religious dress including pulpit robes and the robes worn by various types of monks.
  • A gown worn as part of the official dress of a peer or royalty.
  • Any of several women's fashions, as robe d'anglaise (18th century), "robe de style" (1920s).
  • A gown worn in fantasy literature and role-playing games by wizards and other magical characters.
  • A "bathrobe" worn mostly after bathing or swimming. A typical bathrobe is made of an absorbent material such as towelling, and might be worn at home after a bath, to keep warm and preserve modesty if there is no need to dress. A similar garment not made of absorbent material might be called a dressing gown or housecoat. See, for example, that worn by the fictional character Arthur Dent.
  • (Informal usage) Any long flowing garment; for example, a cassock is sometimes called a robe, although a cassock is close-fitting.

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