The human race universally wears articles of clothing-also known as dress, garments, or attire-on the body in order to protect it against the adverse climate conditions. In its broadest sense, clothing is defined as the coverings of the torso and limbs, as well as the coverings for the hands, feet and head. Articles carried rather than worn, such as purses, are usually counted as accessories, while glasses or jewelry, although worn, also fit this category. On the other hand, the body’s decoration with tattoos, make-up and hairstyle, although contributes to the general message an individuals want to relay in addition to his or her clothing choices, do not constitute clothing as such.
In most cultures, clothing was introduced as a method of protecting the human body against extreme weather conditions -strong winds, intense heat, cold and precipitation. In particular, the weaves of clothes prevent the circulation of air around the skin and thus, avoid the exit of the air reheated by the skin, which makes people feel uncomfortable and cold. Additionally, the clear weaves of clothing avoid the ultraviolet radiation of the sun and the burns in the skin, protecting it, therefore, from the heat. Finally, more impermeable weaves protect the human body from coming into contact with the water of rain or snow. Since water is an excellent thermal storage cell, when the cold rain drops of snow flakes fall and touch the human skin, they immediately send through the nerve cells a message to the human brain that the exposed area is becoming colder than the rest of the body and causing people to feel discomfort.
But people wear clothing for functional as well as social reasons. Apart from the practical functions of placing a piece of garment above the skin, wearing clothes also carries specific cultural and social meanings. In numerous cultures, for instance, it is bad sight to show to others parts of the human body anatomy and particularly the genitals. Thus, clothes serve as a method to hide from the rest of the world the particular areas of a person’s body. Religion, customs and of course, particular historically important circumstances have shaped the way different people in various times feel about clothing and exposure. Moreover, clothing has been regarded as one of the best ways to distinguish social classes, sexes, occupation, marital status and ethnic or religious affiliation. But in order to interpret correctly the messages a particular set of clothes may transmit to others, one has to be familiar with the translation of the specific code. Wearing white during a western funeral for example is highly inappropriate, while eastern societies endorse such a color selection for mourning people.
Today, there are many materials with which clothes are made. A person can choose from purchasing clothes made from natural origin materials, like silk, wool, and leather, but may also select one for the man-made fibers extensively used in clothes manufacturing, like nylon, polyester, Lycra and Gore-Tex. With the recent technological developments, there is great speculation for the direction future clothes will take; in fact the clothing electronics industry has just started.