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The American flag is a symbol of our nation's values. Standing for freedom, liberty, and the sacrifices of the brave men and women who died to make it so, the stars and stripes are a poignant reminder of the history of the country and its people. It is also a common fashion and marketing emblem used on everything from beer and beach balls to flip-flops and socks. Most people are aware of basic flag codes, but they might not be sure how that translates to certain articles of clothing. For instance, is it illegal to wear the American flag as a cape?
So, is it illegal to wear the American flag as a cape? First we must look at the flag code and the ways it is misunderstood. The wearing of the flag is listed as unacceptable according to U.S. flag code section 176 (d) which states, "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." While many people think the flag code states that you can't wear any type of flag apparel, including a cape, the truth is that you can wear flag clothing as long as it's not made from an actual, real American flag. So can you wear a flag tee shirt? Yes. Can you wear a cape made with the stars and stripes as the pattern? Yes. Can you drape an actual flag over your shoulders and wear it as a cape? The answer to that one is no because of the flag code stipulating real flags are not meant for such purposes.
The main takeaway that should be noted is that there is a difference between wearing a cape made to look like an American flag and wearing an actual American flag draped over your shoulders as a cape. The first scenario is considered acceptable by most people, albeit slightly disrespectful to some people, whereas the second option is most likely considered wrong by any American. Wearing the flag emblem is acceptable in most cases but treating an actual flag like a costume or accessory is a sign of disrespect whether regulated by a flag code or not.