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Amineh Kakabaveh 1.jpg
Hans Linde 1.jpg

Woman and man in modern clothes.

As clothing (also clothing , in southern Germany , Austria and South Tyrol, garments , colloquially also clothes ), the entirety of all materials is referred to in a comprehensive sense, which as an artificial shell surrounds the human body more or less tightly (opposite: nudity ). On the one hand, clothing serves to protect against harmful environmental influences and / or dangers in the work environment, and on the other hand in their respective design of non-verbal communication. It has thus developed very differently depending on the culture and time , depending on the climatic, individual and fashionable needs of people. Shoes and headgear (for example helmets ) are counted as clothing, purely decorative objects, however, not, in the narrower sense neither accessories (as “accessories” to clothing).


Neolithic and ancient times

According to the anthropologist Alexander Pashos, the historical point in time when people started wearing clothes can be estimated from the appearance of the clothes louse . Inferred from this, current genetic analyzes point to an origin around 75,000 years ago. Beyond that, however, there are also other views, according to which the ancestors of modern humans wore clothing up to around 650,000 years ago. From the Middle Paleolithic of Neumark-Nord , an approx. 200,000 year old site from the time of the Neanderthals on a former lakeshore near Frankleben in Saxony-Anhalt , comes a stone device with adhering residues of oak acid in a concentration that cannot occur naturally and therefore is interpreted as an indication of the tanning of animal hides.

One of the oldest cloaks was found in the Italian cave of Arene Candide . It consisted of about 400 strips of squirrel skin and is dated to an age of about 23,000 years.

The loss of fur in human evolution made it possible for humans to better regulate body temperature ( sweating ) in their warm habitats at that time . This increased his stamina to get food while hunting . With the invention of clothing, the associated disadvantage was compensated for. The possibility of using different degrees of thermal insulation clothing increases human flexibility to be able to stay in very different climatic zones.

The development of more specialized stone tools was a prerequisite for processing the surface of the skins in such a way that they could be used as clothing (if necessary also depilated as leather ). It is possible that skins were first used as the first primitive sunscreen and later evolved into tents before being used as clothing. The use of fur clothing components as a status symbol of the successful hunter, and thus often also of the group leader, may also have played a role very early on; the use of this type in hot areas, which was still common up to modern times, suggests this. The effectiveness of clothing was significantly increased by the invention of sewing, as clothing could now be closed and adapted to the human body. With sewn clothing, it was possible for humans to permanently colonize even very cold regions such as northern Canada, Greenland and northern Siberia (e.g. Eskimos ). With the domestication of sheep in the early Neolithic and the invention of weaving , wool could now also be used as a raw material for textiles. In addition to sewing as a permanent closure, the closing of throw-over clothing could now also be carried out when in use with robe needles , later fibulae and buckles , and even later with buttons .

The oldest evidence of vegetable raw materials as materials for textile production (e.g. linen and hemp ) is z. B. dated for linen to a period of 36,000 to 31,000 years.

Archaeological finds of chemical relics of the silk protein fibroin in two 8,500-year-old graves suggest that the Neolithic inhabitants of Jianhu already woven the silk fibers into fabrics.

The clothing style was already subject to fashion in the early advanced cultures and antiquity . Mesopotamian terracottas, especially those with clothed women, have been preserved in large numbers as mass-produced products and show the current fashion. They are therefore also regarded as a kind of "fashion lexicon of the times".

middle Ages

The clothing in the Middle Ages reflected the place within the medieval class order . The only differences between the stands were mostly in the material used and the associated decorations. Available materials for textile production for the lower classes were linen, hemp, nettle (these three especially for use in underwear) and sheep's wool (these especially for outerwear ). The higher class could also buy expensive imported fabrics (for example made of silk , especially valuable dyed purple ), better textile qualities and refined cloths.

Industrial revolution, 19th century

Cotton and new machines for its preparation and processing (spinning, weaving) were the most important impulses for the beginning of the industrial revolution . Cotton processing accounted for about 8 percent of the UK's gross domestic product in 1830 and led to the explosive growth of cities where the cotton industry developed (e.g. Manchester ).

Clothing reform, 2nd half of the 19th century

In the context of the life reform movements, there were several attempts to reform clothing in Germany in the second half of the 19th century , the first considerations relating to men's clothing. There was fierce controversy over the question of which material is particularly beneficial for health. Gustav Jäger thought only wool was suitable, while Heinrich Lahmann advocated cotton and Sebastian Kneipp especially linen. Jäger founded his own clothing company for the so-called normal clothing he designed for men, which was quite successful on the market for several decades, in German-speaking countries and also in England. He founded his own association and published a monthly magazine.


Physiological protective function and dangers

Chemical protective suit

Clothing should protect people from hypothermia and frostbite (from cold, moisture, wind) and from heat damage or sunburn (from thermal radiation and UV light ) and at the same time not hinder the evaporation of sweat when sweating . Further protection against particular risks is offered by special, now mostly standardized, protective clothing such as the "bulletproof vest" , cut protection trousers for working with a chainsaw, heat protection clothing or chemical protection suits .


Inappropriate clothing can be hazardous to health:

  • An unfavorable cut can lead to tight or tightly fitting clothes that press on blood vessels, nerves or easily vulnerable organs and that prevent the necessary ventilation and heat regulation (e.g. when lacing);
  • Use of toxic substances for dyeing ( Schweinfurt green , chrome yellow and certain aniline dyes ), they are particularly dangerous if they are only loosely applied with starch , such as veils and silk fabrics ;
  • Absorption of organic germs and transmission to healthy people ( flannel and thin woolen fabrics due to their rough surface).
  • Fire hazard: In contact with flames or sparks, certain textiles, especially light, fluffy ones, can burn off or melt quickly and thus lead to serious burn injuries.
  • Illnesses (e.g. flu, cold, gout) with inadequately warming clothes

Psychological function

In addition, clothing often also has a haptic or sensual experience function . Clothing is a luxury item or even a toy . This includes the sensual enjoyment of certain materials, shapes and colors and playing and experimenting with shapes, colors and materials. Examples: cuddling in soft materials and the erotic-sexually stimulating effect of lingerie or material fetishism (e.g. latex clothing ), as well as enjoying a graceful appearance.

Economical meaning

The countries with the largest clothing production are China and Bangladesh .

Social meaning - means of communication

Typical Raver -Outfit 2000s

In addition, clothing serves as a symbol and a means of communication that provides a wide range of statements / signals. A very simple form is the simple marking or identification as a noteworthy object; neon-colored safety vests of road workers are supposed to prevent a worker from being overlooked. The importance that clothing has in the life of an individual person is very different from individual to individual, also depending on the social environment (and the role expectations of the individual). For some it is an unimportant externality or pragmatic object of use, for others it is an essential part of their life.

Clothing often identifies the members of a group as belonging to this group . In sport, the jersey marks the wearer as a member of a team, just as the uniform once helped to differentiate friend and foe. Normally it only serves to distinguish it from other groups and says little about the characteristics of the group. This is clearly different with other group-specific clothing. In addition to sportswear in established club colors, examples of this are the presentation of professional roles, differences in rank ( e.g. uniform of the military) and class differences (the demarcation or affiliation with other social groups or individuals).

There are also significant differences in the type of importance that individuals attach to clothing. They are shown in the very different aspects to which the individual pays priority when choosing his clothing: fashion - brand , style, beauty awareness; Utility functionality ; Feel-good components. There can be very different motives behind this (each and / or): pragmatism , striving for pleasure, desire for integration through assimilation , expression of feelings and moods, desire for well-being, impressing behavior , expression of one's own lifestyle, social status , nonconformism , rebellion and much more.

Other marking functions of clothing are of an aesthetic nature (sometimes unconsciously): wanting to express oneself or decorating the wearer, but also aesthetic-ironic play and experimentation with established forms of labeling. This includes the identification component of the clothing of a certain scene , which, depending on the point of view , wants to be perceived as a subculture or  counterculture to the prevailing mainstream . This way, you can also see defective clothing, such as For example, torn leather jackets within the punk scene or patched jeans in the blues scene can be aesthetic and fulfilling for the wearer, while the general opinion describes the style of clothing as inadequate and ripped off .

Sign of belonging

Liturgical clothing: a chasuble

The reasons for the demarcation through clothing can be group-specific. So you can differentiate based on clothing:

Clothing can be gender-specific, age-specific and / or class / class / caste-specific. In the western industrialized countries, the different lifestyles justify the different forms of and demarcation through clothing. The scientific study of clothing is carried out by folklore clothing research.

Clothing groups

Clothing is grouped according to various criteria, among others:

According to the occasion

Artistic gymnast in a leotard

According to social position

see also above under the section "Importance of clothing", subsection "Social importance - means of communication"

  • Particularly in the earlier civil society, there were dress codes that assigned people of different classes different ways to dress: court clothes, civil clothes, etc.
  • Today such dress codes usually no longer exist officially, but there are different conventions in different milieus
  • Certain groups consciously wear clothing that identifies them as belonging to this group, e.g. B. Order clothing
  • In certain scenes, certain clothing preferences are widespread and established, e.g. B. punk
  • Convict clothing, e.g. B. Concentration camp inmate clothing
Short overall made of latex

According to material

According to a special function

According to position on the body

  • Clothing regarding the layering around the body:
    • Clothing as an outwardly visible shell: outerwear (women's and men's outerwear)
    • Clothing under the outer clothing / directly on the body: underwear
  • Clothing for certain parts of the body: footwear , headgear , trousers , clothing for the upper body (T-shirt, shirt, sweater, jacket, etc.), clothing for the whole body ( overall , catsuit , zentai , one-piece dresses)

According to historical context, according to historically prevailing fashions and historical regulations

Children dressed in traditional costume (Greece)

see: Clothing fashion , reform clothing , for example

According to the seasons

Winter clothing, summer clothing, transition clothing (change of seasons), carnival costume

Other distinctions

Designations in the German-speaking textile industry

  • DOB - women's outerwear
  • HAKA - men's and boys 'outerwear, originally an abbreviation for men's suits / boys' suits
  • KIKO - children's clothing
  • BESPO - work and sportswear

Identification of clothing

In order to facilitate the selection and care of clothing, some information is usually given in or on the ready- made garment:

  • the brand
  • the composition of the materials
  • the size in clothing sizes divided
  • Textile care symbols for orientation on how clothing should be cleaned and cared for
  • sometimes the model name of the individual garment

See also


  • Roland Barthes : The language of fashion. (Original title: Système de la mode, translated by Horts Brühmann), 3rd edition Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-518-11318-6 .
  • Hans-Joachim Hoffman: Dress language. A psychology of illusion in clothing, fashion, and masquerade. With photos by Anno Willms, Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-550-07617-7 .
  • René König : The second skin. Elefanten Press Verlag, Berlin 1987.
  • Gertrud Lehnert: Fashion. A crash course . Updated new edition DuMont, Cologne 2003, ISBN 978-3-8321-9123-8 .
  • Ingrid Loschek : Fashion - Seduction and Necessity. Bruckmann, Munich 1991.
    • Reclams fashion and costume lexicon. 5th edition, Reclam, Stuttgart 2005.
  • Barbara Schmelzer-Ziringer: Mode Design Theory . Böhlau Verlag / Uni-Taschenbücher-Verlag, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-8252-4403-3 .
  • Moriz Heyne : Personal hygiene and clothing among Germans from the earliest historical times to the 16th century. (= Five books of German household antiquities from the earliest historical times up to the 16th century. A textbook. Volume 3), Leipzig 1903.
  • Richard Sennett : The body as a mannequin. In: Decay and End of Public Life. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1982.
  • NJ Stevenson: The history of fashion: styles, trends and stars (original title: The Chronology of Fashion , translated by Waltraud Kuhlmann and Birgit Lamerz-Beckschäfer), Haupt, Bern / Stuttgart / Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-258-60032- 1 .
  • Philipp Zitzlsperger: Dürer's fur and the law in the picture - clothing science as a method of art history. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-05-004522-1 .

Web links

Commons : clothing  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: clothing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Clothing  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. Alexander Pashos (anthropologist), topic “Clothing”, Galileo , ProSieben , August 1, 2006
  2. ^ Reed, David (2007). Pair of lice lost or parasites regained: The evolutionary history of Anthropoid primate lice. BMC Biology.
  3. State Museum for Prehistory Halle: Page on the Neumark-Nord site .
  4. State Museum for Prehistory in Halle: page on the permanent exhibition Paleolithic .
  5. Art. Mantel , in: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde , Volume 19, here: p. 239.
  6. Archaeologists discover the oldest silk remains. In: http://www.scinexx.de/ . January 3, 2017, accessed January 3, 2017 .
  7. Yuxuan Gong, Li Li, Decai Gong, Hao Yin, Juzhong Zhang: Biomolecular Evidence of Silk from 8,500 Years Ago. In: journals.plos.org. December 12, 2016, accessed January 3, 2017 .
  8. Evelyn Klengel-Brandt: The terracottas from Babylon and Assur . In: Antike Welt , February 2016, pages 37–39.
  9. ^ Robert C. Allen, History of the World Economy, Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 2015, p. 41
  10. Children's clothing: Schnell in Flammen , Stiftung Warentest , January 30, 2009.
  11. Sibylle Haas: The textile industry has power. In: süddeutsche.de. Süddeutsche Zeitung , May 5, 2013, accessed on May 13, 2013.
  12. H for HAKA , Hamburger Abendblatt , January 10, 2011, accessed on June 27, 2014.