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The torso (body) can be covered by shirts, arms by sleeves, legs by pants or skirts, hands by gloves, feet by footwear, and head by headgear or masks. In cold climates, people also wear heavy, thick coats such as trenchcoats.
Clothing protects the human body from the hot sun and high temperatures in warm tropical countries. Clothing such as thick wool coats and boots keeps the human body warm in very cold temperatures (such as in the arctic). To some extent, clothing protects people from damage to their body.
Clothing is also worn for decoration, as a fashion (clothing). People from different cultures wear different clothing, and have different beliefs and customs about what type of clothing should be worn. For many people, clothing is a status symbol. It helps people project an image. Often, clothing is a form of self-expression. Adults in different social or work situations present different views of themselves by the clothes they wear. Young people have an entirely different form of dress to express their personalities. Often people will simply follow popular fashion styles so that they will fit in. Clothing is far more than just a means to protect our bodies.
Origin of clothing
There is no easy way to be sure when clothing was first developed, because it was prehistoric and clothing is perishable. Some information comes from studying lice. The body louse lives in clothing, and diverged from head lice about 107,000 years ago. This suggests that clothing existed at that time. Other louse-based estimates put the introduction of clothing at around 42,000–72,000 BC.
Things that are not clothing
People often decorate their bodies with makeup or perfume, and they also cut or change the hair on their heads and faces. They might also go in for body modification: tattoos, scarifications, and body piercings. But makeup and tattoos are not kinds of clothing.
Things that are carried and not worn, like wallets, purses, canes, and umbrellas, are called accessories, but they are not kinds of clothing, either. Jewelry and eyeglasses are also accessories that are put on the body. Nail polish is also put on the fingertips and can be interpreted as makeup.
What clothing is made of
Clothing is often made of:
Needed to make clothing
- Ralf Kittler, Manfred Kayser & Mark Stoneking (2003). "Molecular evolution of Pediculus humanus and the origin of clothing" (PDF). Current Biology 13 (16): 1414–1417. . . http://www.eva.mpg.de/genetics/pdf/Kittler.CurBiol.2003.pdf.
- Stoneking, Mark. "Erratum: Molecular evolution of Pediculus humanus and the origin of clothing". http://www.current-biology.com/content/article/fulltext?uid=PIIS0960982204009856. Retrieved March 24, 2008. [dead link]
- "...Lice Indicates Early Clothing Use ...", Mol Biol Evol (2011) 28 (1): 29-32.
- "Naked ape: Humans lost body hair long before finding clothes". 2003-08-20. http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/13258/naked_ape_humans_lost_body_hair_long_before_finding_clothes/. Retrieved 2012-03-13.
- Art. Mantel, in: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde, Vol 19, p 239.