During patriotic holidays it deems appropriate to show your festive spirit through red, white and blue attire. Did you know there is a right and wrong way to show your patriotism through clothing? Most people would agree that clothing made from an actual United States flag is inappropriate, but what about a T-shirt with the “stars and bars” on the front? According to the U.S. flag code, “The flag should not be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." Many people interpret that to mean that any article of clothing that bears a field of blue with white stars paired with red and white stripes is too closely related to the flag and is disrespectful to the flag.

According to the United States flag code:

• The flag should not be used on a costume or an athletic uniform, except a flag patch can be placed on uniforms worn by military personnel, policemen, firemen and members of patriotic organizations.

• “The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.”

• For more info on how to treat and display the U.S. flag find the flag code here: http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title4-section8&num=0&edition=prelim

With this in mind, don’t think of the flag code hampering your patriotic fashion dreams. Here are some ideas of how to wear red, white and blue.

  • A navy dress patterned with white stars and red shoes.
  • White shorts and a red and white striped shirt.
  • Red jeans, navy top and star studded sandals.
  • White jeans, navy T-shirt and patriotic colored accessories.
  • A floral patterned skirt that includes red, white and blue.
  • A gingham sundress in red, white and blue.


  • Scarves resembling the flag’s combination of a dark blue field with white star and red and white stripes.
  • Ball caps, beach towels, and swim trunks with the flag pattern on it.
  • Western shirts (sorry Garth Brooks), leggings and tablecloths with stars and bars is not appropriate.

Final tip:

There is no flag police. The U.S. flag code on apparel is not enforced, nor can a person be charged with a crime for wearing the pattern of Old Glory on a bikini or boxer shorts. Just consider it your patriotic duty to respect the flag and wear red, white and blue appropriately during the holidays.

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