c. 1600, "a garment or assemblage of garments," originally any clothing, especially that appropriate to rank or to some ceremony; the specific sense of "woman's garment consisting of a skirt and waist" is recorded by 1630s, with overtones of "made not merely to clothe but to adorn." Dress rehearsal first recorded 1828.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cover."
It forms all or part of: aperitif; apertive; aperture; barbican; cover; covert; curfew; discover; garage; garment; garnish; garret; garrison; guarantee; guaranty; kerchief; landwehr; operculum; overt; overture; pert; warn; warrant; warrantee; warranty; warren; wat; Wehrmacht; weir.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vatah "enclosure," vrnoti "covers, wraps, shuts;" Lithuanian užveriu, užverti "to shut, to close;" Old Persian *pari-varaka "protective;" Latin (op)erire "to cover," (ap)erire "open, uncover" (with ap- "off, away"); Old Church Slavonic vora "sealed, closed," vreti "shut;" Old Irish feronn "field," properly "enclosed land;" Old English wer "dam, fence, enclosure," German Wehr "defense, protection," Gothic warjan "to defend, protect."
Old English stole "long robe, scarf-like garment worn by clergymen," from Latin stola "robe, vestment" (also source of Old French estole, Modern French étole, Spanish estola, Italian stola), from Greek stole "a long robe;" originally "garment, equipment," from root of stellein "to place, array," with a secondary sense of "to put on" robes, etc., from PIE root *stel- "to put, stand, put in order," with derivatives referring to a standing object or place. Meaning "women's long garment of fur or feathers" is attested from 1889.