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In Dress, Law and Naked Truth, Gary Watt tests the radical thesis that law is dress and dress is law. He argues that they are essentially the same anthropological phenomenon: the life of law is a liminal layer of social ordering and control, in the same way that clothes are Watt traces a loose historical chronology, from the anthropology of dress culture and the emergence of the Indo-European lexicon of dress, through the role of clothes in the social performance of political power since classical antiquity, to the emergence of the 'inner' individual in the Early Modern period and the corresponding suspicion of external appearance.
The final chapter looks at the state of modern law and society, looking especially on three sites of legal anxiety: too much covering up (from hoodies to the veil), too little covering up, and insignia (religious, military etc).
The aim of this book is to open up a broader inter-disciplinary conversation between the fields of material culture and law.There is already an extensive literature on the legal regulation of dress and on clothes as a sign of social ordering.