Clothing (also known as clothes and attire) is fiber and textile material worn on the body. The wearing of clothing is mostly restricted to and is a feature of nearly all human societies. The amount and type of clothing worn depends 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 weather, and can enhance safety during hazardous activities such as hiking and cooking. It protects the wearer from rough surfaces, rash-causing plants, insect bites, splinters, thorns and prickles by providing a barrier between the skin and the environment. Clothes can insulate against cold or hot conditions. Further, they can provide a hygienic barrier, keeping infectious and toxic materials away from the body. Clothing also provides protection from Ultraviolet. Wearing clothes is also a Dress code, as being deprived of clothing in front of others may be Embarrassment, or not wearing clothes in public to the extent that genitals, or buttocks are visible could be seen as indecent exposure.
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 sunburn or wind damage, while in cold climates its thermal insulation properties are generally more important. Shelter usually reduces the functional need for clothing. For example, coats, , , 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 culture functions, such as individual, occupational and gender differentiation, and social status. Alternative (This work is one of the earliest attempts at an overview of the psycho-social and practical functions of clothing) In many societies, norms about clothing reflect standards of modesty, religion, gender, and social status. 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. 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 Handbag), worn on a single part of the body and easily removed (scarves), worn purely for adornment (jewelry), or those that serve a function other than protection (eyeglasses), are normally considered accessories rather than clothing, as are footwear and .
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 environmental hazards, such as , noxious chemicals, weather, weapons, and contact with abrasive substances. Conversely, clothing may protect the environment from the clothing wearer, as with doctors wearing medical scrubs.
Humans have shown extreme invention in devising clothing solutions to environmental hazards. Examples include: space suits, air conditioned clothing, armor, diving suits, swimsuits, bee-keeper gear, motorcycle leathers, high-visibility clothing, and other pieces of protective clothing. 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.
In most cultures, gender differentiation of clothing is considered appropriate. The differences are in styles, colors and fabrics.
In Western societies, , dresses and are usually seen as women's clothing, while are usually seen as men's clothing. Trousers 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 bare chested 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. Islam requires women to wear more modest forms of attire, usually hijab. 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 headscarf to the burqa.
Men may sometimes choose to wear men's skirts such as togas or , especially on ceremonial occasions. Such garments were (in previous times) often worn as normal daily clothing by men.
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 everyday as a marker for special religious status.
For example, and Muslim men wear unstitched cloth 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 Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam and Jainism is of paramount importance, since it indicates purity.
Clothing figures prominently in the Bible where it appears in numerous contexts, the more prominent ones being: the story of Adam and Eve who made coverings for themselves out of fig leaf, Joseph's cloak, Judah and Tamar, Mordecai and Esther. Furthermore, the priests officiating in the Temple had very specific garments, the lack of which made one liable to death.
In Islamic traditions, women are required to wear long, loose, opaque outer dress when stepping out of the home. This dress code was democratic (for all women regardless of status) and for protection from the scorching sun. The Quran says this about husbands and wives: "...They are clothing/covering (Libaas) for you; and you for them" (chapter 2:187).
Scientists are still debating when people started wearing clothes. Ralf Kittler, Manfred Kayser and Mark Stoneking, anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, have conducted a genetic analysis of human body lice 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 Homo sapiens away from the warm climate of Africa, 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.
Although modern consumers may take the production of clothing for granted, making fabric by hand is a tedious and labor-intensive process. The textile industry was the first to be mechanized – with the power loom – during the Industrial Revolution.
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 dhoti for men and the sari for women in the Indian subcontinent, the Scottish kilt or the Javanese sarong. 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 Clothing sizes or the same person at different sizes can wear the garment.
Another approach involves cutting and sewing the cloth, but using 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.
Modern European fashion 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 professional interest to costumers constructing for plays, , television, and historical reenactment.
The licensing of designer names was pioneered by designers like Pierre Cardin in the 1960s and has been a common practice within the fashion industry from about the 1970s. Among the more popular include Marc Jacobs and Gucci, named for Marc Jacobs and Guccio Gucci respectively.
Though mechanization transformed most aspects of human industry by the mid-20th century, garment workers have continued to labor under challenging conditions that demand repetitive manual labor. Mass-produced clothing is often made in what are considered by some to be sweatshops, typified by long work hours, lack of benefits, and lack of worker representation. While most examples of such conditions are found in developing countries, clothes made in industrialized nations may also be manufactured similarly.
Coalitions of , designers (including Katharine Hamnett, American Apparel, Veja Sneakers, Quiksilver, eVocal, and Edun) and campaign groups like the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights as well as textile and clothing trade unions 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.
Outsourcing production to low wage countries like Bangladesh, China, India and Sri Lanka became possible when the Multi Fibre Agreement (MFA) was abolished. The MFA, which placed quotas on textiles imports, was deemed a protectionist measure. Although many countries recognize treaties like the International Labour Organization, 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 critics of globalization, the textile industry has functioned as a consistent industry for developing nations providing work and wages, whether construed as exploitative or not, to many thousands of people.
In some cases, people wear an item of clothing until it falls apart. Cleaning leather presents difficulties, and bark cloth (tapa) cannot be washed without dissolving it. Owners may patch tears and rips, and brush off surface dirt, but old leather and bark clothing always look old.
Many kinds of clothing are designed to be Ironing before they are worn to remove wrinkles. Most modern formal and semi-formal clothing is in this category (for example, and suits). 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 permanent press, having been treated with a coating (such as polytetrafluoroethylene) 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.
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. The Textile Materials Eco Battle Between Natural and Synthetic Fabrics "Steven E. Davis, Sweatshirt Station".