Why do naturists wear clothes?

We ran into an acquaintance on the street the other day and she said: “Oh my God, I almost didn’t recognize you guys with clothes on”. A line many of you might be familiar with. It’s probably the most popular joke among naturists. After hearing it a million times or more, we still smile and reply something cheesy like “Sssst. We’re incognito. We’re trying to avoid the paparazzi”.


Although the joke does get a bit old after a while, we started to think about it. Our bodies are unique. Nobody else has the same body as we do. But our clothes come from the store, where they have a whole rack with identical shirts, dresses and shoes. It’s definitely possible that one day you’ll run into someone who’s wearing the exact same clothes, top to bottom, as you do. Seen from that point of view, it actually makes sense if we joke that our clothes are our disguise.

Clothes as protection

This introduction is of course pretty hypothetical and since the most recognizable part of the body is still the face, putting on clothes to avoid paparazzi is probably not all that effective. Another line we’ve been hearing more than often since we’re traveling a lot to naturist places is: “Dressed when practical, nude when possible”. This reflected much more the reason why we were wearing clothes. Although only one block away from the nude beach, we were walking on a public street in Mexico. Yes, it would have been more practical if we had been walking around in the nude. But much less if a cop or an angry Mexican would ask for an explanation.


Now that we’re talking about naturist quotes, you would be surprised how many times we got the question “Isn’t being a naturist very cold in winter?”. The first couple of times we heard this, we were stunned. Do they really think that we’d prefer to freeze to death just for the sake of being nude? The astonishment moves to their face when we tell them that in winter we just wear clothes. “Oooooooh”. You got to be kidding us.


Naturists don’t only wear clothes to protect themselves from cold weather. Many years ago, clothes were invented as a protection against the teeth of mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. Today, the naturist still uses them against the teeth of their chainsaw. Or against the splatters of hot bacon in butter. The New York Times recently wrote a whole article about the latter. Not really worth a read, we rather recommend you to read the response on it by The Meandering Naturist.

What is practical?

Something we’ve learned during our years of traveling is that “practical” and “possible” are very personal terms. Well, at least practical is. Many of the advocates of naturism will tell you that the naturist should try to spend as much time in the nude as they can without losing their jobs or ending up in jail. “15°C, come on, that’s warm enough! Are you a naturist or not?”. We are lucky to spend a lot of our time in warm weather. 15°C doesn’t just mean clothing time for us, it means long trousers and a jacket.


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The thing is that those die-hard naturists, who often have the biggest mouth on social media or at the bar of the local naturist club, make us look bad. There they are in their birthday suits, enjoying the last rays of the winter sun, while we look like we just came back from the north pole.


It’s good that those people are there, they form the strong foundation of the naturist community. Even if they only have 5 minutes between coming back from work and picking up the kids, they will get naked. Even when it’s only 15°C. Even when the bacon splatters are flying everywhere. They WILL get naked. Because it’s possible.


Important to know is that they don’t represent the whole naturist community, but just a fraction of it. For the large majority, the “practical” aspect is more important than the “possible” one.

The freedom of being a naturist

What bothers us is when the die-hard naturists start to feel better than others. Start to feel “more naturist”. And start to force their personal vision of naturism upon others. Which, in our point of view, makes them actually less a naturist. By feeling better than others, the equality factor of naturism fades away. But also the freedom factor. If someone feels forced to be nude even when he or she doesn’t think it’s practical at the moment, naturism becomes very restricted.


On the other hand, when everyone has their own level of practicality, we do create a huge gray zone. Making it very easy for people to come up with excuses to wear clothes even when the circumstances are perfect to be nude. We’d love to turn this blog post into another one of our advocacies for clothing optional, where pure freedom comes in having the absolute choice of wearing clothes or not. But let’s stick to naturism here.


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During our travels through naturist resorts in Europe last year, we noticed that clothes became the most common dress code at the dinner table. On average, we would say that at least 70% of the naturists would go to the resort’s restaurant dressed, even though they are allowed to be nude and in many cases, the temperatures were still agreeable enough to do so, even for us. When we asked people about it, they told us that they felt more comfortable dining with clothes. Or that it’s rather a habit. “When we go out for dinner, we dress up. That’s what we are used to doing”.

Why are you wearing clothes?

Should we tell naturists who prefer to dine clothed that they violate the naturist etiquette? How about those who love to swim and sunbathe nude, but feel nothing for wandering around or riding a bicycle without at least a sarong? How about women who prefer to wear a bottom when in their period? What do we do with teenagers entering the dark years of insecurity and the unsynchronised growth of their body parts?


If we allow exceptions, will there have to be any regulations about who will be pardoned and who won’t? And what do we do with the inevitable restriction on our naturist freedom that comes with such rules?


Or can we just all get along? Care less about whether some prefer to wrap themselves in a sarong while doing grocery shopping at the campground store or wear clothes during sports activities? In the end, naturism is about our freedom to be nude. Should we really care about why you are wearing clothes?


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21 thoughts on “Why do naturists wear clothes?”

  1. I think you are right and express it clearly at the end. Naturism is the freedom to be nude. Not an obligation. I like to be naked when it is comfortable to be so. That comfort will be the product of temperature, location, environment, company and maybe just how I feel at the moment. When I’m sailing, I like to be naked, if it is comfortable. If I see a boat approaching which has young children on board, I usually wrap a towel around me. Everyone is likely to be more comfortable with that. If it’s a boat of adults, I don’t usually wrap up. If it bothers them, a) they need to get over it, b) by the time they noticed we will be sailing away from each other. In reality, no one has given me more than a glance, and the most common reaction is a wave and a thumbs up. When it is hot and sunny out on the water, I think everyone really wants to take their clothes off.

  2. I loved the article and the reasoning except for “Many years ago, clothes were invented as a protection against the teeth of mammoths and saber-toothed tigers.” That’s a bit of a stretch. Clothing probably had more to do with protection from cuts and scrapes due to sharp rocks, thorns, thistles and rough bark, as well as protection from variations in temperature.

    • Hi Han, indeed, the chances to get injured from rocks and thorns were probably significantly higher back in the day than by prehistoric animals. But we thought that mammoths and saber-toothed tigers sound more poetic 🙂

    • Yep. Then man invented religion, as a way to control what other thought and how to act. Part of that control was wearing clothes to be “modest”.

  3. This is going to be a short answer to another very good and interesting blog.
    Some do, some don’t … we have to accept everyone’s choice.
    Coexistence is the key to success!

  4. Two years ago, I took an acquaintance to Cypress Cove in Florida; officially, it is C/O. Most people were nude, as you would expect. The acquaintance is very self-conscious of a scar, the product of a C-section followed by an uneven recovery from the pregnancy, so the scar is not a good example of a skilled surgeon’s work. She preferred to keep it covered with a sarong, because of her exaggerated concern over its visibility. We talked about other-than-textile ways to cover it, such as a tattoo (permanent = painful, henna = washable) but both would draw attention to a scar that is much less visible than she thinks. ‘It’s all in the mind, y’know!’

  5. Naturism/nudism is a choice. I enjoy being nude, my ideal vacation is to take off my clothes on day one and put them back on just before returning home but I also enjoy fashion and expressing myself through clothing.

    • That is indeed an unfortunate idea that is often spread about nudism: That nudists hate clothes.
      Well, some of them do, but definitely not the majority.
      One just doesn’t exclude the other. It’s not because you like to be nude that you can’t enjoy wearing clothes too. It’s like when you love going on beach holidays it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a city trip.

      • I guess I’m in the minority, then, because I hate wearing clothes. The last thing I do before going out in public is get dressed, and the first thing I do when I get home is shed the threads. I don’t equate nudity with immorality, and I dream of a day when I can cut the grass, take the garbage to the curb for pickup, or just take a stroll in the neighborhood naked, without being thought strange or worse. I feel infinitely more comfortable without clothing than with because clothing is so restrictive and binding to the largest organ in or on our bodies (our skin). I live a naked lifestyle for reasons of comfort, convenience, economy, and hygiene.

        • Hi Karl, in the complete naturist spectrum, you are indeed a minority. But that doesn’t really mean anything. You have to do what makes you feel best. We are the perfect example of that, whatever people think, just do what makes you happy.

          The good news is that the things you’d like to do nude (cutting the grass, picking up the garbage, having a stroll) might actually happen one day. Although we are not 24/7 naturists, we believe that nudity should be on the same level as bathing suits. Whatever you can do in swimming pants should be allowed nude as well. And your criteria perfectly fit into that.

  6. Interesting subject.
    Tho ppl always had somewhat of clotes.. at the start probably ppl didnt how to make one or out of what, but for one part or the other, one reason or the other ppl made them

  7. I’ve never met a naturist who prefers to go nude in freezing weather. In fact, I doubt these are naturists at all but thrill-seekers. But I do get annoyed when I visit a resort and it’s hot and humid out, and I see dozens of people in shorts. Some ‘naturists’ only want to sunbathe and swim naked. I am not criticizing their decision, people should be comfortable in whatever they choose to do, but I always feel better being naked around other naked people, and unless I’m cold or bacon grease is flying, the clothes are staying in the closet.

    • Few naturists will indeed go nude in very cold weather. But the general consensus among naturists is “dressed when practical, nude when possible”. The difficulty is that “practical” doesn’t have fixed boundaries. We’ve been to a naturist resort once where there was a guy who insisted on being nude all the time. Even in the mornings and evenings when the temperature was barely 15°C. On itself not a problem, except that he kept complaining about other people because they were dressed.

      We agree that being nude among other nude people is more pleasant than among clothed people. When everyone’s nude, there’s a balance which everyone enjoys. But over time we also learned to care less about what others are (not) wearing. If people not harass us for being nude, that’s good enough 🙂

  8. Do what you want. Be comfortable. Unlike some, I am perfectly comfortable being nude around anybody, clothed or not. I worry more about OTHERS being uncomfortable when I’m nude and they’re not.

  9. As naturists or nudists when you do [must] wear clothes what do you wear? It depends on the situation with me:

    While it wouldn’t be illegal to stay nude, in some situations it’s easier to put something on. On the way home from the beach, if I have to go into a petrol station shop, I slip on a pair of sports or loose shorts and possibly a tee shirt.
    For general casual wear I usually wear a tee shirt and thin lightweight jogging bottoms. I never wear underwear no matter what else I wear, I haven’t done for 35 years, I find it uncomfortable and prefer to be ‘free’. If I have to dress more formally, a suit or jacket and trousers, I still go ‘commando’.

    It’s much easier for women to be almost nude but not nude. A few years ago, when one of my female partners became a naturist and decided she liked to be nude as much as possible, she threw all her underwear away. A lot of the time she wore leggings and occasionally jeans, but if the weather was warm, she invariably wore a dress. She would get up, have a shower, slip on a pair of shoes then slip a light summer dress on over her head and that was her dressed to go out to work to the shops or wherever. She told me that wearing a light summer dress with nothing underneath was almost as good as being naked and she loved the feeling.


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