The deliberate and conscious wearing of clothing is a behavioural adaptation, which among all known extant and extinct animals is a uniquely human characteristic arising from functional needs such as protection from the elements. Protection from the elements includes the sun (for depigmented human populations) and cold temperatures after the loss of body hair and the migration of humans to colder regions (around 100,000 years ago) in which they had not evolved and thus lacked the necessary physical adaptations.
According to some researchers, wearing clothes may predate early human global migrations by an additional 70,000 years. In this case, the migrations were themselves facilitated by the innovation of clothing, it is believed that earlier species of archaic humans, including Homo neanderthalensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo antecessor, either were not able to create true clothing, or were not able to do it as well as Homo sapiens sapiens (anatomically modern humans). At most, as in the case of Homo neanderthalensis, they are believed to have worn only capes, if any coverings at all; this lack of behavioral adaptation, in turn, may have contributed to their eventual extinction during ancient climate changes when they may have succumbed to hypothermia, frostbite and other cold ailments.
Women entertainers perform at a celebration in Ancient Egypt; the dancers are naked and the musician wears a typical pleated garment as well as the cone of perfumed fat on top of her wig that melts slowly to emit its precious odors; both groups wear extensive jewelry, wigs, and cosmetics; neither wear shoes - Thebes tomb c. 1400 B.C.
The history of nudity involves social attitudes to nudity in different cultures in history. It is not known when humans began wearing clothes, although there is some archaeological evidence to indicate that clothing may have become commonplace in human society around 72,000 years ago. Nudity (or near-complete nudity) has traditionally been the social norm for both men and women in some hunter-gatherer cultures in warm climates and it is still common among many indigenous peoples. Anthropologists believe that animal skins and vegetation were adapted into coverings as protection from cold, heat and rain, especially as humans migrated to new climates; alternatively, covering may have been invented first for other purposes, such as magic, decoration, cult, or prestige, and later found to be practical as well.
The ancient Egyptians wore the minimum of clothing, and in a number of ancient Mediterranean cultures, the athletic and/or cultist nudity of men and boys was a natural concept. In ancient Rome, nudity could be a public disgrace and might be offensive or distasteful even in traditional settings, though it could be seen at the public baths or in erotic art. In Japan, public nudity was quite normal and commonplace until the Meiji Restoration. In Europe, taboos against nudity began to grow during the Age of Enlightenment and by the Victorian era, public nakedness was considered obscene. In the early years of the 20th century, the modern naturist movement began to develop. Read more...
David (1504) "What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?" — Michelangelo