A robe is a loose-fitting one-piece outer garment, with (usually long) sleeves, and (usually) covering the legs full-length down to the ankles. They are worn by males and females.
Robes are traditionally worn or associated with (examples):
- Monks, nuns, and novices of both sexes (the central piece of a religious habit)
- (Religious) choir singers
- Academic dress
Robes are related to frocks, dresses, tunics, coats, bathrobes, dressing gowns, smocks, nightgowns and hospital gowns. Robes can be openable at the full front (like a coat or bathrobe) or only at the neck, or at the back (like a dress or hospital gown). They can hang loose or can be tied with a belt, which will often be a fabric belt, not a leather one.
Official robes were once commonly called gowns, a tradition continued by some organisations and scholars, but in general usage, gown refers today to an elegant woman's dress.
Robes and spanking
In medieval convent schools and monasteries, both men and boys would wear robes or tunics. When a boy or man was to be punished (which usually took the form of a birching on their bare bottoms), their robe was simply raised to above their waists, which would bare their buttocks. There were no reservations regarding their modesty, as the humiliation of forced nudity was considered a welcome part of the punishment.