Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies. The amount and type of clothing worn depends on functional considerations (such as a need for warmth or protection from the elements) and social considerations.
Physically, clothing serves many purposes; it can serve as protection from the elements, it can enhance safety during hazardous activities such as hiking and cooking. It protects humans from rough surfaces by providing a barrier between the skin and the environment. Clothes can protect humans from insect bites or splinters. Further, clothes can regulate temparature and provide a hygienic barrier, keeping toxins away from the body and limiting the transmission of germs. Clothing also provides protection from harmful UV radiation.
Clothing performs a range of social and cultural functions, such as individual, occupational and sexual differentiation, and social status. A uniform, for example, may identify civil authority figures, such as police and military personnel, or it may identify team, group or political affiliations.
In many societies, norms about clothing reflect standards of modesty, religion, gender, and social status. Clothing may also function as a form of adornment and an expression of personal taste or style.
Clothing can and has in history been made from a very wide variety of materials. Materials have ranged from leather and furs, to woven materials, to elaborate and exotic natural and synthetic fabrics.
Not all body coverings are regarded as clothing. Articles carried rather than worn (such as purses), worn on a single part of the body and easily removed (scarves), worn purely for adornment (jewelry), or those that serve a function other than protection (eyeglasses), are normally considered accessories rather than clothing, as are footwear and hats.