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Difference between Be dressed in rags and Have the rags on

be dressed in ragsbe dressed in old torn clothes:

  • The work was carried out manually by wretched, scarecrow figures dressed in rags.

have the rags on—(sl.)

1. wear a special kind of clothes:

  • He had the rags on, getting into character, and it just took me aback for a minute.

Cf.: have the glad rags on—wear one’s best clothes or formal attire:

  • Having arrived it was time to get the glad rags on and go to dinner in the town.

2. (also: have the rag on) have one’s menstrual period:

  • Lana doesn’t feel like going out tonight. She’s got the rags on.