DECODING CROSS-CULTURAL MESSAGES. Some Britons take a dim view of a practical article of clothing.

Hooded tops have come to be viewed by some as a symbol of social disorder.

Last year the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent banned people wearing hooded tops, and said youths were using the hoods to shield their faces from CCTV cameras while committing crimes.

"We - the people in suits - often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters," [Conservative Party leader David Cameron] is expected to say.

Must stay alert to this perception next time I go overseas. Hoodies are eminently practical, particularly on raw days with light rain, something that Britain frequently has. Over here, they're often a way of advertising one's collegiate affiliation, as well as just the thing for Saturday evening football (or the November day games.)

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