Forging linkages between dress and law in the U.S. Part II: Dress codes

S. J. Lennon, T. L. Schulz, K. K.P. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Dress and human behavior research, caselaw, and statutes related to workplace and school dress codes in the U.S. are discussed. In caselaw and statutes regarding dress codes, the way dress is interpreted by the legal system is consistent with research, in contrast to the way dress is interpreted in rape and sexual harassment cases. In both areas of law, the assumption is that inferences based on dress are accurate. Thus, both in framing statutes and in rendering judicial decisions, the legal system considers how observers interpret, make inferences, and act as a function of inferences based on the dress of the wearer. In rape and sexual harassment cases, this perspective allows the misuse of dress to shift blame from the perpetrator to the victim; thus, inference accuracy is a point of law. Dress code cases implicate issues of individual freedom, which are not related to inference accuracy. Research and policy linkages between dress and human behavior research and law are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalClothing and Textiles Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Dress and law
  • School dress codes
  • Uniform codes
  • Workplace dress codes


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