Do you know when humans started wearing clothing? It was about 170,000 years ago, right after the second-to-last Ice Age. That’s when they finally discovered that being nude was a little too, cool.
Oddly enough, scientists know precisely when man started wearing clothing because that’s when head lice moved from being head lice to clothing lice. You see, apparently being embedded in clothing was much more appealing for lice than hanging out in human hair.
That might also be when the saying “clothes makes the man” originated, because it was really clothing that enabled man to conquer the world.
Can you imagine Ole and Lena, for example, trying to homestead in North Dakota while wearing no clothes? Rumor has it that Ole wore both of his winter jackets even when he painted his house one July. And that’s because the directions on the paint can suggested that he put on two coats.
Yes, it’s interesting to note that humans were able to survive in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years with minimal clothing. And that it wasn’t until they began wearing clothing that they moved out of Africa and into other parts of the world.
Later on, they graduated to a desire to express individuality. And that pushed humans to wear more distinctive clothing, shoes and then jewelry, and to ultimately don makeup and sport tattoos. You see, it is group divisions and competition that fuels that “look at me” desire, along with a need to affiliate ourselves with a particular sect.
In the midst of all of this, the most important invention might have been something we call the sewing needle.
Way back when, needles were made out of slivers of animal bone that were sharpened to a point at one end and featured an “eye” at the other end. With this tool, man was able to cut up fur hides into pieces to make better-fitting apparel.
In fact, at one point, scientists saw that mankind began to wear close-fitting pants and shirts that protected them in a much better way from the cold, and eventually mankind added shawls, hoods and long boots.
In Europe, historians think that a focus on fashion started about the middle of the 14th century. That’s when the male over-garment went from being a baggy, body-length cover to something much shorter with stuffing in the chest, worn over tight leggings.
Still, the bottom line is this: What looks good on one person doesn’t necessarily look good on another. As a result, a person’s body shape might ultimately be their biggest fashion statement.
Which reminds me of when Gary Zukav, the American spiritual teacher and the author of four consecutive New York Times Best Sellers said that the essence of a person is not the clothing she wears or the things he does. People who love other people do not stop loving them when they change clothing or do other things. Your essence is not even your history, culture, race, or what you think and do. It is your soul.
And yet I like best the quote by James Montgomery, the British poet, who said, “The fairest and best adorned is she whose clothing is humility.”