Is Footwear Considered Clothing? (Are Shoes Apparel, Clothing, Or Accessories?)

Wondered whether your shoes can be counted as clothing? You aren’t alone. While the majority consider footwear to be clothing, some people think that it is not. There are other items like scarves, belts, and socks which are considered to be clothes but some people question if we’ll also consider shoes to be part of this list. But is footwear really clothing? Well, let’s find out.

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Footwear is the general term for items worn on the feet, including shoes, sandals, flip-flops, and even socks. In most cases, footwear is not considered clothing. However, in some cases, it can be considered clothing as dictated by a current fashion trend or social norm.

The question of whether or not footwear is clothing is mainly a semantic one. The definition of what constitutes clothing has been evolving throughout human history and continues to change depending on cultural norms and fads.

For example, trousers were originally considered undergarments but are now common outerwear in many countries.

Is Footwear Considered Clothing?

Footwear is not considered clothing. Clothing is defined as a garment that covers a part of the body, whereas footwear is exclusively for covering the feet.

The term “apparel” can and does include both clothing and footwear, but footwear and clothing are different things unto themselves.

Is footwear a clothing accessory?

Some refer to shoes and other footwear as accessory clothing, which would be a subset of clothing. Suffice to say that while footwear can be lumped in under the umbrella of clothing, it is not an all-encompassing definition.
Clothing is an ambiguous term, but it is generally accepted that footwear and clothing are separate from one another.

Are Shoes Clothing Or Accessories?

Technically, shoes are accessories. However, this label is fairly relative as accessories by definition are something that is added to your outfit or clothing to enhance the style.

So if you feel as though your shoes are the star of your outfit, and everything else is simply added to enhance them, then those shoes can be called clothing.

Some fashionistas have a fluctuating label for clothing and accessories as their naming depends highly on how the item is being used. However, that being said, for most of us, shoes are an additional, and often fun thing we add to our outfits, making them accessories.

In the fashion industry, the definition of clothing is often not clear. It can be difficult to distinguish if a particular article is clothing or accessories. Footwear may be considered as clothing in some instances and as an accessory in others. There are two main reasons for this:

Clothing is generally a separate entity from the human body. It has a specific purpose and can be removed at will. It protects the human body from dirt, cold, heat, unpleasant sights, and so on.

In contrast, accessories serve no practical purpose and are removed easily. They are mainly decorative accessories that enhance one’s appearance or personality. In some cases, they may also fulfill a practical function such as protecting the skin against sun exposure while still looking fashionable.

Footwear may be considered as clothing or an accessory depending on how it is worn and where it is worn. In fact, footwear can be both at the same time if it has both features –it looks good and protects the feet from injury at the same time.

What’s Considered Apparel?

Anything that is worn on your body is considered to be apparel. In fact, the word apparel comes from the meaning ‘to wear’.

An item of clothing that you wear on your body for protection, beautification, or decorating your person is apparel. Even things like shoes, jewelry, gloves, and hats are considered to be apparel. For the most part, it’s safe to assume that anything that counts as clothing is apparel.

Electronic headsets, purses, backpacks, and make-up are examples of things that are worn on the body but are not considered to be apparel.

Clothing usually falls into one of three categories:

Apparel: Any article of clothing worn on the body and considered as a covering. Usually, but not always, worn over other clothing such as underwear, shirts, and jackets.

Just to make things confusing sometimes footwear and accessories such as hats, gloves, and scarves are also considered apparel. So clothing is apparel, footwear is apparel, but footwear isn’t clothing.

Underwear: An undergarment designed to be worn beneath outerwear in order to provide comfort and protection from the cold or heat. It is typically made of cotton or silk; however, there are many types of underwear available today such as bikinis (thongs), boxers, thongs, and camisoles.

Lingerie: A women’s undergarment designed to be worn under a dress or skirt. Lingerie can add seduction to an outfit. Lingerie includes nightgowns, robes, and slips as well as bras and panties.

Is Footwear Part of the Apparel Industry?

It is possible to categorize just about everything under the sun. Most people would consider shoes to be clothing, but some would argue that they are accessories.

The truth is that shoes are considered apparel if you are a fashion designer, or if you work for a clothing retailer, but generally speaking, shoes are considered accessories by most people.

Why Are Shoes Considered To Be Apparel By Some?

Apparel is defined as items that have one main use, or purpose, which covers a wide range of products including shoes.

Clothing and shoes are both considered apparel, so footwear is part of the apparel industry. Since anything worn on your body as a means of covering or decorating yourself is considered apparel, this makes footwear is a part of the apparel industry.

Shoes are worn both to protect your feet and as a means of fashion, and anything that covers a part of your body is apparel.

The clothing industry and the footwear industry have long worked in tandem with each other, so as a whole, they are known as the apparel industry.

Why Are Shoes Not Considered Apparel By Others?

Well… as we have seen shoes are classified as apparel but not clothing. However, there are plenty of people who would argue that shoes are not apparel.

The footwear industry is a billion-dollar market, but marketers don’t consider shoes to be a form of apparel. This is because shoes are used for comfort and protection and are not sold as fashion accessories. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term apparel refers to “clothing in general, not just specialized items such as suits.” Footwear manufacturers, like Converse and Nike, sell their products as sports gear or athletic wear.

Some of the reasons are:

Tailoring: To be considered apparel, a clothing item needs to be tailored. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to have a tailored fit, but it does mean that the item is made specifically for its wearer and not mass-produced. If a company is going to invest in making a shirt of a certain cut, color, and size for you individually, then that shirt is considered apparel. Shoes are often not tailored (unless they are custom made) and so they are usually excluded from this requirement.

Aesthetics: A garment needs to be designed with aesthetics in mind – even if it’s just so that it doesn’t look bad while being worn. This is another area where shoes fail – they’re often designed more for comfort than aesthetics. A piece of clothing needs to be trendy or fashionable enough to be worn in public by someone other than the wearer – if the only time you’ll ever see it is when you’re wearing it yourself then there’s no point classifying it as apparel.


In summary, the conclusion is that it all boils down to one’s definition of clothing. If clothing is considered to be anything that humans wear on their bodies, then shoes are indeed considered clothing.  While some view shoes as clothing and some don’t, there are good reasons for both…and yet more reasons why both are wrong.

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