A Brief History of Clothes
History of Clothes
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, and boots) and head (hats, caps). People almost 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.
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.
21st Century Clothing. Western fashion has, to a certain extent, become international fashion, as Western media and styles penetrate all parts of the world. Very few parts of the world remain where people do not wear items of cheap, mass-produced Western clothing. Even people in poor countries can afford used clothing from richer Western countries.
However, people may wear ethnic or national dress on special occasions or if carrying out certain roles or occupations. For example, most Japanese women have adopted Western-style dress for daily wear, but will still wear silk kimonos on special occasions. Items of Western dress may also be worn or accessorized in distinctive, non-Western ways.
History. According to archaeologists and anthropologists, the earliest clothing probably consisted of fur, leather, leaves or grass, draped, wrapped or tied about the body for protection from the elements. Knowledge of such clothing remains inferential, since clothing materials deteriorate quickly compared to stone, bone, shell and metal artifacts. Archeologists have identified very early sewing needles of bone and ivory from about 30,000 BC, found near Kostenki, Russia, in 1988.
Since most humans have very sparse body hair, body lice require clothing to survive, so this suggests a surprisingly recent date for the invention of clothing. Its invention may have coincided with the spread of modern Homo sapiens from the warm climate of Africa, thought to have begun between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. For now, the date of the origin of clothing remains unresolved. Some human cultures, such as the various peoples of the Arctic Circle, until recently have made their clothing entirely of furs and skins, cutting clothing to fit and decorating lavishly.
Other cultures have supplemented or replaced leather and skins with cloth: woven, knitted, or twined from various animal and vegetable fibres. See weaving, knitting, and twining.
Although modern consumers take clothing for granted, making the fabrics that go into clothing is not easy. One sign of this is that the textile industry was the first to be mechanized during the Industrial Revolution; before the invention of the powered loom, textile production was a tedious and labor-intensive process. Therefore, methods were developed for making most efficient use of textiles.
One approach simply involves draping the cloth. Many peoples wore, and still wear, garments consisting of rectangles of cloth wrapped to fit — for example, the dhoti for men and the saris 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 sizes or the same person at different sizes can wear the garment.
In the thousands of years that humans have spent constructing clothing, they have created an astonishing array of styles, many of which we can reconstruct from surviving garments, photos, paintings, mosaics, etc., as well as from written descriptions. Costume history serves as a source of inspiration to current fashion designers, as well as a topic of professional interest to costumers constructing for plays, films, television, and historical reenactment.
A Brief History of Clothes
Egyptian Clothes. It’s no surprise that the hot climate Egyptians wore only light clothing. Men wore a loincloth and a kind of kilt. Women wore dresses with shoulder straps. Clothes were made of linen or cotton.
Later in Egyptian history clothes became more elaborate and colourful. It was normal for children to go naked. Most people went barefoot much of the time but they sometimes wore sandals made from papyrus.
Egyptians wore jewelry. Those who could afford it wore jewelry of gold, silver and precious stones. Poor people wore jewelry made of copper or bronze. Both men and women wore make-up.
Greek Clothes. Greek women wore rectangles of woolen cloth folded and pinned together with holes for the arms and head. It was tied at the waist. This garment was called a peplos.
Towards the end of the 5th century some Greek women began to wear a long linen tunic called a chiton. Women also wore cloaks called himations. Women wore jewelry like necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Rich women carried parasols to protect them from the sun. Men wore plain tunics of wool tied at the waist. Men also wore cloaks called himations and if they were travelling they wore broad rimmed hats. Although ordinary Greeks wore clothes of wool or linen, the rich could afford cotton and silk.
Roman Clothes. Roman men wore tunics. Roman citizens wore a semi-circular piece of cloth called a toga. It was folded over one shoulder. men wore white togas made of wool or linen. Senators wore a toga with a purple stripe as a mark of their rank. Women wore long dresses called a stola, dyed in different colours. Often they wore a long shawl called a palla.
Ordinary Romans wore clothes of wool or linen but the rich could afford cotton and silk. Roman clothes were held with pins and brooches.
Saxon Clothes. Saxon men wore a shirt and tunic. They wore trouser like garments called breeches. Sometimes they extended to the ankle but sometimes they were shorts. Men might wear wool leggings held in place by leather garters. They wore cloaks held in place by brooches. Saxon women wore a long linen garment with a long tunic over it. They also wore mantles.
Clothes in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages men wore tunics. Some men wore shorts and all wore 'hose' (tights or stockings).
Women wore a nightie-like linen garment. However they did not wear knickers. They wore a long tunic (to their ankles) and over it another garment, a gown. Women held their dresses with a belt tied around their waists.
In the Middle Ages both sexes wore wool but it varied in quality. It could be fine and expensive or coarse and cheap. From the mid-14th century laws lay down which materials the different classes could wear, to stop the middle classes dressing 'above themselves'. (Poor people could not afford to wear expensive cloth anyway!). However most people ignored the law and wore what they wished.
In the late 14th and 15th centuries clothes became much more elaborate. Fashion in the modern sense began. For the wealthy styles changed rapidly. Women wore elaborate hats and men wore long shoes. Poor people wore practical clothes. If it was wet and muddy they wore wooden clogs.
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