According to genetic studies of lice that live in human clothing—compared to lice that live on our heads—the two species began to differ from each other about 170,000 years ago. What this shows is that people have worn clothing at least since that time. There’s no way to know what types of clothing people wore so long ago, but archaeologists have given us a glimpse of sophisticated clothes worn by ancient Egyptians, as well as fabrics, weaving, and clothing construction techniques that are diverse—and at times surprisingly similar—around the ancient world. Early humans probably wore clothes to protect themselves from extreme weather and also for utility, such as carrying needed items or children. One of the oldest objects of clothing was likely a wrap that helped parents to carry babies safely. People wear clothing for many reasons. The first reason is practical: When humans lost body hair, they needed protection from the elements that fur, feath- ers, or scales provide for animals. Second, just as birds like the peacock display their extraordinary tail feathers to attract a mate, humans use clothing to attract others. Clothing also helps to establish identities and jobs. A crossing guard, for example, wears a high-visibility vest and carries a sign. Rank, status, and roles in society are also indicated through clothing. Finally, the feeling of human modesty influences many choices in clothing, from people who are comfortable wearing a tiny loincloth or merely painted body decorations to those who want to cover all of their body except their hands and face. Clothing’s practical and social aspects influence style and fashion, but they don’t dictate fashion. These are sometimes confused. Style refers to an individ- ual’s choice of clothing and how people choose to groom their hair, makeup, nails, and other personal characteristics. Fashion , on the other hand, is a creative art form practiced at a high level on every continent. Though “the passing fashion” may be a trend or fad that is popular for a short time, the fashion industry at its highest levels involves knowledge of human nature, the human body, color, textiles, and innovative materials and construction that goes far beyond traditional weaving, sewing, and fitting. The fashion industry as it is known today emerged in France in the nineteenth century with the first fashion design firm: the House of Worth. Every continent has its own fashion tradition, and many of these customs reflect the society, climate, natural resources, religion, and culture of the people that follow them. Africa, the birthplace of humanity and a diverse continent with 55 different countries and more than 2,000 languages, is the site of many emerging fashion designers and a world design capital: Cape Town, South Africa. The diverse cloth- ing and style traditions of Africa caught the world’s attention with the 2018 re- lease of the film Black Panther . Designer Ruth E. Carter created the film’s stunning


clothing and fashion

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