Is It Okay to Wear Clothes Showing the American Flag?

It’s not uncommon for clothes sold in the United States, as well as other countries, to feature the American flag. You can find t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, hoodies, pants and even shoes designed with images of the American flag. These patriotic clothes are particularly popular around Independence day, but they are sold and worn during all months of the year. Considering the wording used in the U.S. Flag Code, however, you might assume that it’s not acceptable to wear clothes showing the American flag.

What the US Flag Code Says About Wearing Clothes With the American Flag

The U.S. Flag Code, which contains legal requirements regarding the use, display, storage and retirement of the American flag, contains a section in which it discusses apparel. In this section, the legislation states that the American flag should never be worn as apparel, bedding or drapery. It also states that the American flag should never be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform.

Why It’s Okay to Wear Clothes Showing the American Flag

Based on this information, many people wrongfully believe that it’s not acceptable — or even illegal — to wear clothes showing the American flag. However, this isn’t the case. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear clothes showing the American flag as long as the clothes aren’t actually made of an American flag or part of an American flag.

You can check out the American Legion’s explanation here. Basically, it explains that the U.S. Flag Code only prohibits the use of clothes that are made of the American flag, not clothes showing the American flag. If a shirt features a patch made of an American flag, wearing it is a violation of the U.S. Flag Code. On the other hand, if a shirt has an American flag graphic or image printed on it, wearing it is not a violation of the U.S. Flag Code.

Take the U.S. Olympic teams’ uniforms as an example. While their uniforms constantly change, they almost always feature the American flag. If it wasn’t okay to wear clothes showing the American flag, the U.S. Olympic teams’ uniforms would probably look quite different.

The bottom line is that it’s okay to wear clothes showing the American flag, assuming it’s just a printed image rather than an actual American flag or part of an American flag. If a garment is made of an American flag, however, you shouldn’t wear it as stated in the U.S. Flag Code.

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