Clothing (also known as clothes and attire) is a collective term for garments, items worn on the body. Clothing can be made of textiles, animal skin, or other thin sheets of materials put together.
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. The shelter usually reduces the functional need for clothing. For example, coats, hats, gloves, 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.
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 J. C. Flügel’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.
#3: Social status
In some societies, clothing may be used to indicate rank or status. In ancient Rome, for example, only senators could wear garments dyed with Tyrian purple. In traditional Hawaiian society, only high-ranking chiefs could wear feather cloaks and palaoa, or carved whale teeth. In China, before establishment of the republic, only the emperor could wear yellow. History provides many examples of elaborate sumptuary laws 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, peer pressure influences clothing choice.