costume, distinctive forms of clothing, including official or ceremonial attire such as ecclesiastical vestments, coronation robes, academic gowns, armor, and theatrical dress. The use of ornament preceded the use of protective garments; its purpose was to emphasize social position by a great display of trophies, charms, and other valuables and to enhance attractiveness. Superstition, caste distinction, and climatic necessity all have been influential in the evolution of dress.
The term costume also includes accessories, such as the shoe, hat, glove, corset, handkerchief, fan, umbrella, cane, and jewelry; styles of wearing the hair (see hairdressing) and beard; and primitive methods of body-marking and attaching ornaments to the body.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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