Clothing Answers

Why do you wear dark colored clothes in winter and light colored clothes in summer?

Forget all the historical written bellow. The scientific and obvious reason is this:
Colors are the result of radiations reflection. So basically, if a shirt is black that means most of the radiation (sun radiation that is hitting it) is being absorbed by it and not reflected (think of a black hole for example, and why they are "black"), therefore heating more than a white one. A white shirt means that a big part of radiation is being reflected , and therefore less absorbed. And then, cooler.

So, darker clothes heat more than white ones, that's why people use white in summer and darker colors in winter. Try it yourself ;)


Why do people wear dark clothing in the winter:
Today, the common answer to this question is "fashion dictates it". Although this may appear to the "current" truth , I very much doubt that fashion had anything at all to do with it historically. "Fashion", I offer, simply followed practicality over the centuries.
I believe that you have to look back fairly far in history to get the "real" answer.
A simple answer that I hear/see a lot is that white reflects heat and black absorbs it, so you should wear white when it's hot and black when its cold.
I don't think any of those answers really get to the heart of the issue.
Almost ALL of the answerers seem to talk as though it is only USA citizens who have drive the answer. It's as though the rest of the world and rest of pre-America history didn't exist. Well, where do YOU think we in this country got most of our customs from?
 
I think we need to go back well before America was discovered, way back in history to the times when most people had to do a lot of hard, dirty labor just to survive as subsistence families. And then come forward to the times when people began living in buildings that had to heated and cooked in.
(By the way, I am talking about the temperate zones of the earth here.
It would be interesting to consider this issue for those earthlings who lived in the subtropical and tropical parts of the world as a different dataset).
I don't think "seasons" had a lot to do with what color clothes one wore for most of the earth's population, and for most of the earth's human history. Survival was first and foremost. 1.Water, 2.Food, 3.Shelter (comfort?), and then all else.
 
Summary of the day-to-day dynamic issues that would favor the wearing of dark clothing, as I see them:
-Most people did a lot of manual labor.
-People didn't have a lot of clothes to choose from.
-People didn't have running water, bath tubs or bathrooms, even.
-Homes were heated with wood or with coal using holes in the roof as chimneys for centuries, fireplaces later on and finally wood/coal burning appliances. But still burning solid fuels.
-The technology to produce a wide variety of colors and materials was not available to common people, most of whom produced their own clothing if they wanted to have any. "Miracle fabrics" like nylon, rayon, etc.. and most of the permanent dyes are less than 100 years old!
 
Here's my explanation of the effect each of the issues above has in favor of dark clothing in general, but particularly during cold weather:
-Most people did a lot of manual labor, sunup to sundown:
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Working and living off the land is hard, dirty work. If you don't have access to easy ways to clean your clothes, you tend to wear them a long time between cleanings. Dark clothing does not show the dirt as much as light colored clothing would.
-People didn't have a lot of changes of clothing to choose from.
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This means, to me, that they wore their existing clothing for long periods of time before washing, cleaning them.
-People didn't have running water, bath tubs or bathrooms, even.
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This means that people had to ration their water supply just to stay alive. Drinking water and cooking would surely take precedence over washing clothes, or for that matter, themselves.
Again, this would lead to wearing whatever you had on for long periods of time, which in turn would lead to choosing dark colors so the soil wouldn't show.
-Homes were heated with wood or with coal using holes in the roof as chimneys for centuries, fireplaces later on and finally wood/coal burning appliances. But still burning solid fuels. Cooking and washing also require heat.
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Heating with solid fuels is a dirty messy business. First you have to get the fuel, either by cutting, splitting, drying and stacking wood fuels, just to get it to place where it will be used. If the fuel is coal (or peat) you have to dig it up, transport it and store it someplace.
Then the fuel has to be brought into the area where it will be used and stored temporarily. Whether wood or coal, there is dust to contend with when loading the fuel into the appliance.
When the fuel is finally burned, it creates smoke ash, and particulates. All of these tend to linger in the air within the building. Once the fuel has been burned, the ashes have to be removed from the appliance. And finally, as if that wasn't enough effort, you have to regularly dismantle and/or otherwise clean the chimney to prevent chimney fires, another really dirty task.
The whole process makes clothing dirty. Yet another case for dark clothing to hide the dirt.
-The technology to produce a wide variety of colors and materials was not available to common people, most of whom produced their own clothing if they wanted to have any. "Miracle fabrics" like nylon, rayon, etc.. and most of the permanent dyes are less than 100 years old!
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I'm certainly no expert in the fabric area, but when most clothing was homemade, the materials would be limited to the fibers available. And the range and permanence of the dyes would be limited in much the same way. Of course the clothing had to be made by hand, so the idea of making more clothing than was absolutely necessary had to be far down the list.
Again, a case for wearing one's clothing as long as possible, and for having as little of it as possible. This meant dirtier clothes.
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