Clothing laws by country
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Clothing laws vary considerably around the world. In general, in most countries, there are no laws which prescribe what clothing is required to be worn. However, the community standards of clothing are set indirectly by way of prosecution of those who wear something that is not socially approved. Those people who wear insufficient clothing can be prosecuted in many countries under various offences termed indecent exposure, public indecency or other descriptions. Generally, these offences do not themselves define what is and what is not acceptable clothing to constitute the offence, and leave it to a judge to determine in each case.
Most clothing laws concern which parts of the body must not be exposed to view; there are exceptions. Some countries have strict clothing laws, such as in Islamic countries. Other countries are more tolerant of non-conventional attire and are relaxed about nudity. Many countries have different laws and customs for men and women, what may be allowed or perceived often varies by gender. Cross-dressing is in some areas specifically illegal, especially a man wearing women's clothing.
Separate laws are usually in place to regulate obscenity, which includes certain depictions of people in various states of undress, and child pornography, which may include similar photographs of children.
In some countries non-sexual toplessness or nudity is not illegal. However, private or public establishments can establish a [dress code] which requires visitors to wear prescribed clothing.
There are a variety of laws around the world which impact on what people can and cannot wear. For example, some laws require a person in authority to wear the appropriate uniform. For example, a policeman on duty may be required to wear a uniform; and it can be illegal for the general public to wear a policeman's uniform. The same could apply to firefighters and other emergency personnel. In some countries, for example in Australia, the boy scouts uniform is also protected.
In many countries, regulations require workers to wear protective clothing, such as safety helmets, shoes, vests etc., as appropriate. The obligation is generally on employers to ensure that their workers wear the appropriate protective clothing. Similarly, health regulations may require those who handle food to wear hair covering, gloves and other clothing.
Governments can also influence standards of dress shown on television through its licensing powers.
International laws and customs and culture 
There are many specific circumstances where body parts have to be covered, often for safety or sanitary reasons.
In Canada, s.173 of the Criminal Code prohibits "indecent acts". There is no statutory definition in the Code of what constitutes an indecent act (other than that the exposure of the genitals for a sexual purpose to anyone under 16 years of age), so that the decision of what state of undress is "indecent", and thereby unlawful, is left to judges to decide. Judges have held, for example, that nude sunbathing is not indecent. Also, streaking is similarly not regarded as indecent. Section 174 prohibits nudity if it offends "against public decency or order" and in view of the public. The courts have found that nude swimming is not offensive under this definition.
Toplessness is also not an indecent act under s.173. In 1991, Gwen Jacob was arrested for walking in a street in Guelph, Ontario while topless. She was acquitted in 1996 by the Ontario Court of Appeal on the basis that the act of being topless is not in itself a sexual act or indecent. The case has been referred to in subsequent cases for the proposition that the mere act of public nudity is not sexual or indecent or an offense. Since then, the court ruling has been tested and upheld several times.
In Qatar, the penal code punishes and forbids the wearing of revealing or indecent clothes, this dressing-code law is enforced by a government body called "Al-Adheed". In 2012, a Qatari NGO organized a campaign of "public decency" when they deemed that the government is too relaxed in monitoring the wearing of revealing clothes; defining the latter as "not covering shoulders and knees, tight or transparent clothes". The campaign targets foreigners who constitute the majority of Qatar's population.
United Arab Emirates 
The United Arab Emirates government will post signs on their beaches saying that nudity is prohibited. There would be no fines for breaking this rule, just a warning and if necessary, ejection from the beach. The rule went into effect after locals complained about tourists sunbathing topless or completely nude and changing their clothes in public, so must respect the customs and traditions of the State.
There are also signs at malls and shopping centers indicating that shoulders and knees have to be covered. Also revealing clothes are not prohibited. In case the rules are broken, they will be warned. but no arrests.
United Kingdom 
United States 
In the United States, clothing-related laws are set by state and local governments. A variety of different offenses, such as "indecent exposure", "public lewdness", "public indecency", "disorderly conduct" and so on, may require exposure of a specific body part (genitals, buttocks, anus, nipples on women), a specific intention or effect (being sexually suggestive, offending or annoying observers). In some cases, a member of the opposite sex must be present. In Florida, designated nudity areas are given an explicit exception. There are also some specific prohibitions against sexual acts, such as having sexual intercourse in public, or publicly caressing someone in a sexual way. In Indiana and Tennessee, there are specific prohibitions against showing a noticeably erect penis through clothing, or other sensitive areas through semi-transparent clothing. In some states, indecent conduct can also occur on private property, depending on the intent or effect of the act. In some cases there are exceptions for spouses, breastfeeding, and in New York, theatre performances. In most states, there is a governing state statute which defines the offense; in Maryland and Massachusetts, indecency is defined by case law. Some local (county and municipal) governments also regulate personal exposure, as well as commercial activities such as strip clubs.
In general, exposure of the head, upper chest, and limbs is legal and considered socially acceptable (except among certain religious communities).
Federal, state, and local regulations for certain occupations require various pieces of protective clothing for the safety of the wearer or the public. Such items include hard hats, safety vests, life jackets, aprons, hairnets, and steel-toe boots.
Some states and towns have no or loose regulation for requiring clothing. The city of San Francisco has a history of public nudity, including at public event such as Bay to Breakers. The town of Brattleboro, VT experienced a brief period during which public nudity occurred, but passed a special law.
- Kirby, Kathleen M. (1996). Indifferent boundaries: spatial concepts of human subjectivity. Guilford Press. p. Chapter 5. ISBN 0-89862-572-6.
- Criminal Code of Canada, 1985, Part V, Sexual Offences
- R. v. Beaupré, 1971, British Columbia Supreme Court. Held: "mere nude sunbathing is not of sufficient moral turpitude to support a charge for doing an indecent act."
- R v Springer, 1975, Saskatchewan District Court
- R v Niman, 1974, Ontario Provincial Court
- R v Benolkin, 1977, Saskatchewan Court of the Queen's Bench. It was found that "this offence is not aimed at conduct such as swimming nude at an isolated beach, even where the accused misjudges the loneliness of the beach".
- Judgment C12668, R. vs. Jacob. Province of Ontario Court of Appeal. 1996-12-09. Retrieved 2009-02-16
- District of Maple Ridge v. Meyer, 2000 BCSC 902 (CanLII). See esp. para  and .
- "Organizers are calling this campaign "One of Us" - not "No Nudity"". Doha News. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- Dubai takes action on ‘indecent’ sunbathing - The National Newspaper
- Cooper, Emmanuel. Fully Exposed: The Male Nude in Photography. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 0-415-03279-2.
- Naturism and The Law
- Naturist State Laws
- US District Courts
- Nudist Court Cases
- Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce
See also 
- Sumptuary law
- Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Saudi Arabia)
- Let's trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle (North Korea)
- Islamic dress in Europe