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, showing (from top) Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, and 13th through 15th century Europeans.

Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel and attire) is a collective term for items worn on the body. Clothing can be made of,, or other thin sheets of materials put together. The wearing of clothing is mostly restricted to and is a feature of all human. The amount and type of clothing worn depend on body type, social, and geographic considerations. Some clothing can be gender-specific.

Physically, clothing serves many purposes: it can serve as protection from the and can enhance safety during hazardous activities such as and. It protects the wearer from rough surfaces, rash-causing plants,,, by providing a barrier between the skin and the environment. Clothes can insulate against cold or hot conditions, and they can provide a barrier, keeping infectious and toxic materials away from the body. Clothing also provides protection from.

Wearing clothes is also a, and being deprived of clothing in front of others may be, or not wearing clothes in public such that, or are visible could be seen as.


Origin of clothing[]

See also: and

There is no easy way to determine when clothing was first developed, but some information has been inferred by studying lice which estimates the introduction of clothing at roughly 42,000–72,000 years ago.


The most obvious function of clothing is to improve the comfort of the wearer, by protecting the wearer from the elements. In hot climates, clothing provides protection from or damage, while in cold climates its thermal insulation properties are generally more important. The shelter usually reduces the functional need for clothing. For example,,,, and other superficial layers are normally removed when entering a warm home, particularly if one is residing or sleeping there. Similarly, clothing has seasonal and regional aspects, so that thinner materials and fewer layers of clothing are generally worn in warmer seasons and regions than in colder ones.

Clothing performs a range of social and functions, such as individual, occupational and gender differentiation, and social status. In many societies, norms about clothing reflect standards of,,, and. Clothing may also function as a form of adornment and an expression of personal taste or style.

Clothing can and has in history been made from a very wide variety of materials. have ranged from leather and furs to woven materials, to elaborate and exotic natural and synthetic fabrics. Not all body coverings are regarded as clothing. Articles carried rather than worn (such as ), worn on a single part of the body and easily removed (), worn purely for adornment (), or those that serve a function other than protection (), are normally considered rather than clothing, except for shoes.

Clothing protects against many things that might injure the uncovered human body. Clothes protect people from the elements, including rain, snow, wind, and other weather, as well as from the sun. However, clothing that is too sheer, thin, small, tight, etc., offers less protection. Clothes also reduce risk during activities such as work or sport. Some clothing protects from specific hazards, such as, noxious chemicals, weather,, and contact with abrasive substances. Conversely, clothing may protect the environment from the clothing wearer, as with doctors wearing.

Humans have shown extreme invention in devising clothing solutions to environmental hazards. Examples include:,,,,,,,, and other pieces of. Meanwhile, the distinction between clothing and protective equipment is not always clear-cut, since clothes designed to be fashionable often have protective value and clothes designed for function often consider fashion in their design. Wearing clothes also has social implications. They cover parts of the body that social norms require to be covered, act as a form of adornment, and serve other social purposes. Someone who lacks the means to procure reasonable clothing due to poverty or affordability is sometimes said to be scruffy, ragged, or shabby.[7]


Although dissertations on clothing and its function appear from the 19th century as colonising countries dealt with new environments, concerted scientific research into psycho-social, physiological and other functions of clothing (e.g. protective, cartage) occurred in the first half of the 20th century, with publications such as 's Psychology of Clothes in 1930, and Newburgh's seminal Physiology of Heat Regulation and The Science of Clothing in 1949. By 1968, the field of environmental physiology had advanced and expanded significantly, but the science of clothing in relation to environmental physiology had changed little. While considerable research has since occurred and the knowledge-base has grown significantly, the main concepts remain unchanged, and indeed Newburgh's book is still cited by contemporary authors, including those attempting to develop thermoregulatory models of clothing development.

Cultural aspects[]

Gender differentiation[]

Former 3rd Duke of Fife wearing a traditional (1984)

In most cultures, gender differentiation of clothing is considered appropriate. The differences are in styles, colors, and fabrics.

In Western societies,, and are usually seen as women's clothing, while are usually seen as men's clothing. were once seen as exclusively male clothing, but can nowadays be worn by both genders. Male clothes are often more practical (that is, they can function well under a wide variety of situations), but a wider range of clothing styles are available for females. Males are typically allowed to in a greater variety of public places. It is generally more or less acceptable for a woman to wear clothing perceived as masculine, while the opposite is seen as unusual.

In some cultures, regulate what men and women are required to wear. requires women to wear more modest forms of attire, usually. What qualifies as "modest" varies in different Muslim societies. However, women are usually required to cover more of their bodies than men are. Articles of clothing Muslim women wear for modesty range from the to the.

Men may sometimes choose to wear such as or, especially on ceremonial occasions. Such garments were (in previous times) often worn as normal daily clothing by men.

Clothing designed to be worn by either sex is called. Unisex clothes, such as T-shirts, tends to be cut straighter to fit a wider variety of bodies. The majority of unisex clothing styles have started out as menswear, but some articles, like the, were originally worn by women.

Social status[]

's bemedaled sends a social message about his wealth, status, and power.

In some societies, clothing may be used to indicate rank or. In, for example, only senators could wear garments dyed with. In traditional society, only high-ranking chiefs could wear and palaoa, or carved teeth. In, before establishment of the, only the emperor could wear. History provides many examples of elaborate that regulated what people could wear. In societies without such laws, which includes most modern societies, social status is instead signaled by the purchase of rare or luxury items that are limited by cost to those with wealth or status. In addition, influences clothing choice.


See also:

men traditionally wear white robes and a cap during prayers

Religious clothing might be considered a special case of occupational clothing. Sometimes it is worn only during the performance of religious ceremonies. However, it may also be worn every day as a marker for special religious status.

For example, and Muslim men wear unstitched pieces when performing religious ceremonies. The unstitched cloth signifies unified and complete devotion to the task at hand, with no digression.[] Sikhs wear a turban as it is a part of their religion.

The cleanliness of religious dresses in Eastern religions like,,, and is of paramount importance since it indicates purity.

Clothing figures prominently in the where it appears in numerous contexts, the more prominent ones being: the story of who made coverings for themselves out of, 's, and, and. Furthermore, the priests officiating in the Temple had very specific garments, the lack of which made one liable to death.

The Quran says about husbands and wives, regarding clothing: "...They are clothing/covering (Libaas) for you; and you for them" (chapter 2:187).

Jewish ritual also requires rending of one's upper garment as a sign of mourning. This practice is found in the Bible when Jacob hears of the apparent death of his son Joseph.

Origin and history[]

Main article:

See also: and

First recorded use[]

According to archaeologists and anthropologists, the earliest clothing likely consisted of,, leaves, or grass that were draped, wrapped, or tied around the body. Knowledge of such clothing remains inferential, since clothing materials deteriorate quickly compared to stone, bone, shell and metal artifacts. Archeologists have identified very early of bone and ivory from about 30,000 BC, found near, in 1988. Dyed fibers that could have been used in clothing have been found in a prehistoric cave in the that date back to 36,000.

Scientists are still debating when people started wearing clothes. Ralf Kittler, Manfred Kayser and Mark Stoneking, at the, have conducted a genetic analysis of human that suggests clothing originated quite recently, around 170,000 years ago. Body lice is an indicator of clothes-wearing, since most humans have sparse body hair, and lice thus require human clothing to survive. Their research suggests the invention of clothing may have coincided with the northward migration of modern away from the warm of, thought to have begun between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. However, a second group of researchers using similar genetic methods estimate that clothing originated around 540,000 years ago For now, the date of the origin of clothing remains unresolved.

Making clothing[]

See also:,, and

Some human cultures, such as the various people of the, traditionally make their clothing entirely of prepared and decorated furs and skins. Other cultures supplemented or replaced leather and skins with cloth: woven, knitted, or twined from various animal and vegetable fibers including wool,,,, hemp, and ramie.

Although modern consumers may take the production of clothing for granted, making fabric by hand is a tedious and labor-intensive process involving fiber making, spinning, and weaving. The industry was the first to be mechanized – with the  – during the.

Different cultures have evolved various ways of creating clothes out of cloth. One approach simply involves draping the cloth. Many people wore, and still wear, garments consisting of rectangles of cloth wrapped to fit – for example, the for men and the for women in the, the Scottish or the. The clothes may simply be tied up, as is the case of the first two garments; or pins or belts hold the garments in place, as in the case of the latter two. The precious cloth remains uncut, and people of various or the same person at different sizes can wear the garment.

Another approach involves measuring, cutting, and sewing the cloth by hand or with a. Clothing can be cut from a and adjusted by a tailor to a person's measurements. An adjustable sewing mannequin or is used to create form fitting clothing. Fabrics are expensive and efforts are made to use every bit of the cloth rectangle in constructing the clothing. The tailor may cut triangular pieces from one corner of the cloth, and then add them elsewhere as. Traditional European patterns for men's and women's take this approach. These remnants can also be reused to make patchwork hats, vests, and skirts.

Modern European treats cloth much less conservatively, typically cutting in such a way as to leave various odd-shaped cloth remnants. Industrial sewing operations sell these as waste; home sewers may turn them into.

In the thousands of years that humans have spent constructing clothing, they have created an astonishing array of styles, many of which have been reconstructed from surviving garments,,,, etc., as well as from written descriptions. Costume history serves as a source of inspiration to current, as well as a topic of interest to costumers constructing for,,, and.

Contemporary clothing[]

Western dress code[]

Main article:

The Western dress code has changed over the past 500+ years. The mechanization of the made many varieties of cloth widely available at affordable prices. Styles have changed, and the availability of has changed the definition of "stylish". In the latter half of the 20th century, became very popular, and are now worn to events that normally demand formal attire. has also become a large and growing market.

Jeans in the Western dress code are worn by both men and women. There are several unique styles of jeans found which include: high rise jeans, mid rise jeans, low rise jeans, bootcut jeans, straight jeans, cropped jeans, skinny jeans, cuffed jeans, boyfriend jeans, and capri jeans.

The licensing of designer names was pioneered by designers like in the 1960s and has been a common practice within the from about the 1970s. Among the more popular include and, named for Marc Jacobs and Guccio Gucci respectively.

Spread of western styles[]

By the early years of the 21st century, western clothing styles had, to some extent, become international styles. This process began hundreds of years earlier, during the periods of European. The process of cultural dissemination has perpetuated over the centuries as Western media corporations have penetrated markets throughout the world, spreading Western culture and styles. clothing has also become a global phenomenon. These garments are less expensive, mass-produced Western clothing. Donated clothing from Western countries are also delivered to people in poor countries by charity organizations.

Ethnic and cultural heritage[]

People may wear ethnic or on special occasions or in certain roles or occupations. For example, most Korean men and women have adopted Western-style dress for daily wear, but still wear traditional on special occasions, like weddings and cultural holidays. Items of Western dress may also appear worn or accessorized in distinctive, non-Western ways. A Tongan man may combine a used with a Tongan wrapped skirt, or.

Sport and activity[] pink and carey hart wedding cake photo

Main articles: and

Most sports and physical activities are practiced wearing special clothing, for practical, comfort or safety reasons. Common garments include,,,,, and. Specialized garments include (for, or ), (for ) and (for ). Also, materials are often used as base layers to soak up sweat. Spandex is also preferable for active sports that require form fitting garments, such as volleyball, wrestling,, dance, gymnastics and swimming.


Main articles: and

Paris set the fashion trends for Europe and North America 1900-1940. In the 1920s the goal was all about getting loose. Women wore dresses all day, everyday. Day dresses had a drop waist, which was a sash or belt around the low waist or hip and a skirt that hung anywhere from the ankle on up to the knee, never above. Daywear had sleeves(long to mid-bicep) and a skirt that was straight, pleaded, hank hem, or tired. Jewelry was less conspicuous. Hair was often bobbed, giving a boyish look.

In the 21st century a diverse range of styles exist in fashion, varying by geography, exposure to modern media, economic conditions, and ranging from expensive to traditional garb, to. are events for designers to show off new and often extravagant designs.

Future trends[]

Main article:

The world of clothing is always changing, as new cultural influences meet technological innovations. Researchers in scientific labs have been developing prototypes for fabrics that can serve functional purposes well beyond their traditional roles, for example, clothes that can automatically adjust their temperature, repel bullets, project images, and generate electricity. Some practical advances already available to consumers are bullet-resistant garments made with and stain-resistant fabrics that are coated with chemical mixtures that reduce the absorption of liquids. New blends of Spandex cotton blends allow for form fitting and stretching of closer fitting mass produced patterns. New mesh materials allow for better breathe-ability in shoes. New insulation fibers and batting make lighter raiment that provide warmth in cold or wet weather, and recent advances in coatings for fabrics or down also repel water.

Political issues[]

Working conditions in the garments industry[]

Further information:


This section needs expansion. You can help by. (June 2008)

Garments factory in Bangladesh Safety garb for women workers in, c. 1943, was designed to prevent occupational accidents among female war workers.

Though transformed most aspects of human industry by the mid-20th century, workers have continued to labor under challenging conditions that demand repetitive manual labor. clothing is often made in what are considered by some to be, typified by long work hours, lack of benefits, and lack of worker representation. While most examples of such conditions are found in, clothes made in may also be manufactured similarly.[]

Coalitions of, designers (including Katharine Hamnett,,,, eVocal, and Edun) and campaign groups like the (CCC) and the as well as have sought to improve these conditions as much as possible by sponsoring awareness-raising events, which draw the attention of both the media and the general public to the workers.

production to low wage countries like,, and became possible when the (MFA) was abolished. The MFA, which placed quotas on textiles imports, was deemed a measure.[] Although many countries recognize treaties like the, which attempt to set standards for worker safety and rights, many countries have made exceptions to certain parts of the treaties or failed to thoroughly enforce them. India for example has not ratified sections 87 and 92 of the treaty.[]

Despite the strong reactions that "sweatshops" evoked among, the has functioned as a consistent industry for developing nations providing work and wages, whether construed as exploitative or not, to many thousands of people.


Main article:

The use of animal fur in clothing dates to prehistoric times. It is currently associated in developed countries with expensive, designer clothing, although fur is still used by indigenous people in arctic zones and higher elevations for its warmth and protection. Once uncontroversial, it has recently been the focus of campaigns on the grounds that campaigners consider it cruel and unnecessary., along with other and groups have called attention to and other practices they consider cruel.

Life cycle[]

Clothing maintenance[]

Clothing suffers assault both from within and without. The human body sheds skin cells and body oils, and exudes sweat, urine, and feces. From the outside, sun damage, moisture, abrasion, and dirt assault garments. Fleas and lice can hide in seams. Worn clothing, if not cleaned and refurbished, itches, becomes outworn, and loses functionality (as when fall off, seams come undone, fabrics thin or tear, and fail).

Often, people wear an item of clothing until it falls apart. Some materials present problems. Cleaning leather is difficult, and bark cloth (tapa) cannot be washed without dissolving it. Owners may patch tears and rips, and brush off surface dirt, but materials like these inevitably age.

However, most clothing consists of cloth, and most cloth can be and mended (patching,, but compare ).

Laundry, ironing, storage[]

Humans have developed many specialized methods for laundering, ranging from early methods of pounding clothes against rocks in running streams, to the latest in electronic and (dissolving dirt in other than water). Hot water washing (boiling), chemical cleaning and ironing are all traditional methods of fabrics for purposes.

Many kinds of clothing are designed to be before they are worn to remove wrinkles. Most modern formal and semi-formal clothing is in this category (for example, and ). Ironed clothes are believed to look clean, fresh, and neat. Much contemporary casual clothing is made of knit materials that do not readily wrinkle, and do not require ironing. Some clothing is, having been treated with a coating (such as ) that suppresses wrinkles and creates a smooth appearance without ironing.

Once clothes have been laundered and possibly ironed, they are usually hung on or folded, to keep them fresh until they are worn. Clothes are folded to allow them to be stored compactly, to prevent creasing, to preserve creases or to present them in a more pleasing manner, for instance when they are put on sale in stores.


Main article:

A resin used for making non-wrinkle shirts releases, which could cause contact dermatitis for some people; no disclosure requirements exist, and in 2008 the U.S. tested formaldehyde in clothing and found that generally the highest levels were in non-wrinkle shirts and pants. In 1999, a study of the effect of washing on the formaldehyde levels found that after 6 months after washing, 7 of 27 shirts had levels in excess of 75 ppm, which is a safe limit for direct skin exposure.


See also:

When the raw material – cloth – was worth more than labor, it made sense to expend labor in saving it. In past times, mending was an art. A meticulous or could mend rips with thread raveled from and seam edges so skillfully that the tear was practically invisible. Today clothing is considered a consumable item. Mass-manufactured clothing is less expensive than the labor required to repair it. Many people buy a new piece of clothing rather than spend time mending. The thrifty still replace and and sew up ripped hems.


Used, unwearable clothing can be repurposed for,,,, and many other household uses. It can also be recycled into. In Western societies, used clothing is often thrown out or donated to charity (such as through a ). It is also sold to, dress agencies,, and in. Used clothing is also often collected on an industrial scale to be sorted and shipped for re-use in poorer countries. Globally, used clothes are worth billion with the US as the leading exporter at 5 million.

There are many concerns about the life cycle of synthetics, which come primarily from petrochemicals.[] Unlike natural fibers, their source is not renewable and they are not biodegradable.

See also[]


  1. Ralf Kittler, Manfred Kayser & Mark Stoneking (2003), (PDF),, 13 (16): 1414–1417, :,  , archived from () on 2008-09-10 
  2. Kittler, Ralf; Kayser, Manfred; Stoneking, Mark (2004). "Molecular Evolution of Pediculus humanus and the Origin of Clothing". Current Biology. 14 (24): 2309. :. 
  3. , Mol Biol Evol (2011) 28 (1): 29-32.
  4. Reed, David (2007). "Pair of lice lost or parasites regained: The evolutionary history of Anthropoid primate lice". BMC Biology.  Missing or empty |url= ()
  5. . 2003-08-20. Retrieved 2012-03-13. []
  6. ^ Flugel, John Carl (1976) [1930], The Psychology of Clothes, International Psycho-analytical Library, No.18, New York: AMS Press. First published by Hogarth Press, London,    Alternative   (This work is one of the earliest attempts at an overview of the psycho-social and practical functions of clothing)
  7. Baradel, Lacey. "Geographic Mobility and Domesticity in Eastman Johnson’s The Tramp." American Art 28.2 (2014): 26-49
  8. e.g. Jeffreys, Julius (1858),, London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts, retrieved 8 September 2010 
  9. Newburgh, Louis Harry, ed. (1968) [1949], Physiology of Heat Regulation and The Science of Clothing, New York & London: Hafner Publishing 
  10. Hertig, Bruce A (February 1969),,, 11 (2): 100, :,   Freely accessible, retrieved 8 September 2010  (reviewer's name appears next to Newburgh, but was not the co-author. See also reviewer's name at bottom of page).
  11. Gilligan, Ian (January 2010), "The Prehistoric Development of Clothing: Archaeological Implications of a Thermal Model", Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 17 (1): 15–80, : 
  12. (PDF). Retrieved 9 August 2010. []
  13. Hoffecker, J., Scott, J., Excavations In Eastern Europe Reveal Ancient Human Lifestyles, University of Colorado at Boulder News Archive, March 21, 2002, 2011-07-19 at the.
  14. Balter M (2009). "Clothes Make the (Hu) Man". Science. 325 (5946): 1329. :.  . 
  15. Kvavadze E, Bar-Yosef O, Belfer-Cohen A, Boaretto E, Jakeli N, Matskevich Z, Meshveliani T (2009).. Science. 325 (5946): 1359. :.  . CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list ()
  16. Reed; et al. (2004).. PLoS Biology. 2 (11): e340. :.   Freely accessible.  . CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. ()
  17. Mary Louise Roberts, "Samson and Delilah revisited: the politics of women's fashion in 1920s France." American Historical Review 98.3 (1993): 657-684.
  18. Simon Bliss, "'L’intelligence de la parure': Notes on Jewelry Wearing in the 1920s." Fashion Theory 20.1 (2016): 5-26.
  19. Steven Zdatny, "The Boyish Look and the Liberated Woman: The Politics and Aesthetics of Women's Hairstyles." Fashion Theory 1.4 (1997): 367-397.
  20. . New York Times.
  21. 2011-07-22 at the.. Journal of Health Science.
  22. Minter, Adam (15 January 2018)... Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
  23. Banigan, Melissa (25 January 2018).. Racked.. Retrieved 26 January 2018. 
  24. "Steven E. Davis, Sweatshirt Station".

Further reading[]

  • Finnane, Antonia (2008),, New York:,  , retrieved 8 September 2010  ebook  
  • Forsberg, Krister; Mansdorf, S.Z (2007), (5th ed.), Hoboken, New Jersey:,  , retrieved 8 September 2010 
  • Gavin, Timothy P (2003),, Sports Medicine, 33 (13): 941–947, :,  , archived from on 2011-07-07, retrieved 8 September 2010 
  • Hollander, Anne L (1993),, Berkley & Los Angeles, California, and London, UK:,  , retrieved 8 September 2010 
  • Montain, Scott J; Sawaka, Michael N; Cadarett, Bruce S; Quigley, Mark D; McKay, James M (1994), (PDF), Journal of Applied Physiology, 77 (1): 216–222,  , retrieved 8 September 2010 
  • Ross, Robert (2008),, Cambridge, UK:,  , retrieved 8 September 2010  Paperback  
  • Tochihara, Yutaka; Ohnaka, Tadakatsu, eds. (2005),, Elsevier Ergonomics Book Series, Vol.3, Amsterdam & Boston:, pp. 315–320,  , retrieved 8 September 2010  (see especially sections 5 – 'Clothing' – & 6 – 'Protective clothing').
  • Yarborough, Portia; Nelson, Cherilyn N, eds. (2005),, 8th Vol., West Conshohocken, PA:,  ,  , retrieved 8 September 2010 

External links[]

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