Watching a recorded visit of the host of Rhythm Abroad, Brittany Pierce, to Blackfoot country in Alberta, Canada, I noted her questioning use of the word “regalia” for the items worn for dancing. Her Blackfoot host assured her that regalia was indeed the term. It reminded me of Juan William’s disastrous (and, to me, unfair) departure from NPR for voicing his concern over people in what he called “Muslim garb” getting on his plane. It was his overall voicing of concern that got him fired, but the word “garb” did come in for comment. In my family, we still use it when we are being funny.
However, it is certainly better than costume. I always wondered what we should call the ridiculous tie and jacket for business and professional dress: a costume, garb, clothing, wear, regalia, outfit, dress, apparel, attire, (I had to look up the last two); certainly not duds or togs or a getup. Wow! This makes me think of all the words I have to learn for other languages. Does Greek or Urdu have so many words for what you wear overall, besides the specific items, not to mention that dress can also refer to a specific type of clothing.
Regalia clearly refers to decorative clothing for a specific purpose or occasion. Garb has an odd tone to it, as if the person wearing it might be inappropriately garbed or dressed. The rest seem to be neutral, other than costume which implies a disguise or clothing you would not wear out, like you would not wear regalia out but only in its proper context.
Well, just an exploration of one particular set of words.