How has the required function of clothing changed over the centuries?

Well, where do I begin?  I have to surmise.  Presumably the first use of clothing was as protection – against weather variables.  I can see that as an eminently functional possibility, we needed to get warm or stay dry or stop being burnt.  But it could just as easily have been other reasons,  as skin protection when going through dense growth or across searing surfaces.  Or did it develop out of a functional need to carry items?  A bag or a belt that over time was modeled into a vest? Or was it solely decorative in origins? A way of signifying status or belief or availability or knowledge or nationality? There’s no way of knowing the initial function of clothing, but it certainly happened.

Today it is used in many different ways, reflecting all of those purposes above, the clothes industry can supply gear appropriate for just about any activity.  At a cost.  Vanity and social pressures deem it necessary to have the right apparel for what you are doing. We don’t seem to look at those social pressures but don’t they just swing into play if you dress differently, wearing what you shouldn’t.  Assumptions are made.  Cross dressing?  Goth? ‘Wrong’ religion? Aggressive? Cool? Athletic? Flirtatious? Bold? Knowledgeable? Flouting ‘standards’. Etc . . . . .

It trips people up when they visit other countries and collide with the social norm and/or requirements.

We have so many uniforms, the set ones and the implied.

Perhaps clothing is at it’s most horrid when it tries to transform our very shape.  Clothes that constrain or limit or confine.

Or is it when it gives privelege that isn’t earned?  The old school tie and all that stuff?

Or when it clogs landfill or transforms rivers with it’s waste and byproducts?

As a society we don’t value cloth.  We deem it shameful to wear patched clothing.  We certainly don’t seem to be questioning the glut that is daily being created.  We barely question the deathly working conditions to supply the demand.  We don’t seem to consider the fibres that are being made and their ability or not to decompose.  The rules around safe composition of dyes gets flouted with barely a slap on the wrist.  Check out this Choice article, or this ABC article or this from the Yale School of Forrestry and Environmental Studies.

Give me the natural product and the hand crafted please.  Linen and silk and wool and cotton, hopefully produced as ethically as possible.  Try to talk to the maker, there are Makers Markets where you get beautiful hand produced products that are individual in their design.  Of course if you made it yourself there can be issues with talking to the maker!  The Fashion Revolution is happening and I hope to see it spread.

Hmmm, did I answer the question or (as usual) raise too many other questions?  Not sure if I’m doing this study stuff right, but it’s what I do . . . .



One thought on “How has the required function of clothing changed over the centuries?

  1. howdy, naomi, i’ve just looked here to read about your shoe doings, and so wanted to tell you that i could have bought you a set of lasts i saw in maine a couple weeks back, but then there was the postage… in any case, i hope you are feeling better, and i encourage you to continue pondering clothing ourselves and posting process photos, they are fascinating!


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