In a recent Dhamma study the topic of robes was involved. After some reading I have noted that many of the related guidelines for the construction, style, and the repair of such robes (plus the importance of each) were outlined for the young Bhikkhu and how any candidate for ordination must have a set of robes before they can be admitted to the community as a Bhikkhu and should become content with any old robe cloth (within the guidelines) and hold no attachment nor disdain for such robe cloth.I was working to consider application of the Buddha's intent to lay life and immediate answers seem to be the obvious such as lack of attachment to branding, appearance, etc of our clothing while maintaining their integrity through repair and washing.One aspect that I am seeking clarification on is the allowance for the lay to wear simple robes. I have yet to find specific passages relating to the wearing of robes by the lay but have seen a number of discussions and statements claiming that they should not.The first argument I have seen is that they could be misinterpreted as ordained which is understandable when in the public eye, similar to the idea of impersonating a police officer, but this does not cover life in seclusion or in private or regions where robes would have no significance to the public. Aside from this, other arguments discussed seem to be coming from a place of attachment to the uniform. There also appear to be some schools which do in fact provide robes to the lay as part of their program, seemingly as a means of a reminder of your dedication to the practice while wearing them.To summarize is there any further instruction from the Buddha or practical reasoning relating to the wearing of simple robes in lay life, in seclusion, or in private life as a means to simplify clothing under the premise of lack of attachment to what is worn?
Upon reflection, as there seems to be no direct instruction, from a practical perspective the guidelines seem to be as follows.
If the lay person is Buddhist:
If the lay person is not Buddhist:
There was a famous Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist called Anagarika Dharmapala. He wore a robe. But he kept to the eight precepts and he was not a house holder. Lay people are usually recommended to wear white clothes when attending religious places. My personal opinion is that if you are at least not an eight precept keeper, wearing a robe would be inappropriate. Also, if the goal is simplicity and having as few clothes as possible, why not do it with just a plain trouser and shirt or a sarong? What is the need to use something that is commonly considered as part of a monk's identity? Why even put yourself in a position to be mistaken as a monk if simplicity is all that you are interested in?