Clothing is defined, in its broadest sense, as coverings for the torso and limbs as well as coverings for the hands (gloves), feet (socks, shoes, sandals, boots) and head (hats, caps).
Humans nearly universally wear clothing, which is also known as dress, garments, attire, or apparel.
People wear clothing for functional as well as for social reasons. Clothing protects the vulnerable nude human body from the extremes of weather, other features of our environment, and for safety reasons. Every article of clothing also carries a cultural and social meaning. Human beings are the only mammals known to wear clothing, with the exception of human pets clothed by their owners.
People also decorate their bodies with makeup or cosmetics, perfume, and other ornamentation; they also cut, dye, and arrange the hair of their heads, faces, and bodies (see hairstyle), and sometimes also mark their skin (by tattoos, scarifications, and piercings). All these decorations contribute to the overall effect and message of clothing, but do not constitute clothing per se.
Articles carried rather than worn (such as purses, canes, and umbrellas) are normally counted as fashion accessories rather than as clothing. Jewelry and eyeglasses are usually counted as accessories as well, even though in common speech these items are described as being worn rather than carried.
Clothing as functional technology
The practical function of clothing is to protect the human body from dangers in the environment: weather (strong sunlight, extreme heat or cold, and precipitation, for example), insects, noxious chemicals, weapons, and contact with abrasive substances, and other hazards. Clothing can protect against many things that might injure the naked human body. In some cases clothing protects the environment from the clothing wearer as well (example: medical scrubs).
Humans have shown extreme inventiveness in devising clothing solutions to practical problems and the distinction between clothing and other protective equipment is not always clear-cut.
See, among others: air conditioned clothing, armor, diving suit, swimsuit, bee-keeper's costume, motorcycle leathers, high-visibility clothing, and protective clothing.
Clothing as social message
Social messages sent by clothing, accessories, and decorations can involve social status, occupation, ethnic and religious affiliation, marital status and sexual availability, etc. Humans must know the code in order to recognize the message transmitted. If different groups read the same item of clothing or decoration with different meanings, the wearer may provoke unanticipated responses.
Military, police, and firefighters usually wear uniforms, as do workers in many industries. School-children often wear school uniforms, while college and university students sometimes wear academic dress. Members of religious groups may wear uniforms known as habits. Sometimes a single item of clothing or a single accessory can declare one's occupation or rank within a profession — for example, the high toque or chef's hat worn by a chief cook.:
This is an extract from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
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