Terry Cloth Bathrobe
When you think about someone wearing a robe, the first thought that comes into most people’s minds is that of the warm terry cloth bathrobe you slip on after a hot bath. Some people may reminisce of a past vacation, possibly a luxurious hotel they once visited, where every morning there was a newly pressed, soft and inviting robe hanging in the closet, embossed with the hotel logo. Though in modern times we are incline to consider a robe as a garment worn in the privacy of your own home, after showering in the morning, or while cuddling up with a good book in the evening, robes enjoy a long and glorious history in the cultures of the world. The word robe originates from the middle English word “robe,” which means garment. Tracing the word further back in origin, you will find that it has roots in French and Frankish etymology. Defined as a loose fitting garment, a robe differs from other types of slip on wearable’s like a cloak or a cape, in that robes typically have material covering the arms.
Robes have a long history in religious applications. Traditional monks from Tibet and Nepal wore a robe like garment as their everyday apparel. There is a type of robe that is referred to as a pulpit robe, which is worn by many Protestant and Catholic religious leaders throughout the world. It is common to see the Pope wearing a robe when he makes public appearances, though the terry cloth bathrobe hanging in your closet bears no resemblance!
Robes are also of important significance in academic culture. During graduation and commencement ceremonies it is common to see both professors and graduates alike wearing a form of robe known as a gown. Commonly these gowns are black and worn with a matching cap, though depending on the institution they may be designed in accordance with the colors associated with the school. When guests are invited to give commencement speeches at prestigious universities, these guest speakers will usually be wearing one of these gown style robes over their clothes.
Another instance in which robes that bear no resemblance to the terry cloth bathrobe your may remember your father wearing in the evenings, is the robes worn by those in judicial or legislative work. Judges in the United States, and Barristers in the UK often wear a robe like dress when hearing arguments on the bench. In some countries and cultures, all who are participatory in courts of law are required to wear a robe style dress when in the courtroom.
Though robes have many different practical and ceremonial uses throughout the world, the most common type of robe is the terry cloth bathrobes that are so familiar to people from their childhoods, or stays in fancy hotels. The loose fitting garment, designed to slip on easily and made of a comfortable material are worn in homes all throughout the world every day and every night. Next time you slip on your robe, stop for a moment and consider all people before you throughout history that have also slipped on their robes, and the influence they may have had.