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Costume is the distinctive style of dress of an individual or group that reflects their class, gender, profession, ethnicity, nationality, activity or epoch.
The term also was traditionally used to describe typical appropriate clothing for certain activities, such as riding costume, swimming costume, dance costume, and . Appropriate and acceptable costume is subject to changes in fashion and local cultural norms.
"But sable is worn more in carriages, lined with real lace over ivory satin, and worn over some smart costume suitable for an afternoon reception." A Woman's Letter from London (23 November 1899).
This general usage has gradually been replaced by the terms "dress", "attire" or "wear" and usage of "costume" has become more limited to unusual or out-of-date clothing and to attire intended to evoke a change in identity, such as theatrical, Halloween, and mascot costumes.
Before the advent of ready-to-wear apparel, clothing was made by hand. When made for commercial sale it was made, as late as the beginning of the 20th century, by "costumiers", often women who ran businesses that met the demand for complicated or intimate female costume, including millinery and corsetry.
Costume comes from the same Italian word, inherited via French, which means fashion or custom.
National costume or regional costume expresses local (or exiled) identity and emphasizes a culture's unique attributes. They are often a source of national pride. Examples include the Scottish kilt or Japanese kimono.
In Bhutan there is a traditional national dress prescribed for men and women, including the monarchy. These have been in vogue for thousands of years and have developed into a distinctive dress style. The dress worn by men is known as Gho which is a robe worn up to knee-length and is fastened at the waist by a band called the Kera. The front part of the dress which is formed like a pouch, in olden days was used to hold baskets of food and short dagger, but now it is used to keep cell phone, purse and the betel nut called Doma. The dress worn by women consist of three pieces known as Kira, Tego and Wonju. The long dress which extends up to the ankle is Kira. The jacket worn above this is Tego which is provided with Wonju, the inner jacket. However, while visiting the Dzong or monastery a long scarf or stoll, called Kabney is worn by men across the shoulder, in colours appropriate to their ranks. Women also wear scarfs or stolls called Rachus, made of raw silk with embroidery, over their shoulder but not indicative of their rank.
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