Clothes are garments that players can wear. They are a subset of equipment. Most clothes are worn for aesthetic reasons only, although some items that may be considered clothes do offer defence bonuses (see below).
Players define a default outfit for their character when they create their accounts, which ensures that avatars never appear naked or in their underwear. Players can change their default outfit at any stage of the game by visiting Thessalia's Makeovers in Varrock, and members can change the armbands by visiting Reinald's Smithing Emporium in Keldagrim after completing The Giant Dwarf quest. After completing The Fremennik Trials, members can change their shoes by visiting Yrsa in Rellekka.
Most non-player characters (NPCs) also wear clothes. All human NPCs do, but some other species may not, especially animals such as Ping & Pong, who are penguins. Most NPCs never change their clothes, with exceptions including Molly, Sigmund, Gudrun, Cyrisus and Zanik.
Players can obtain other clothing in the form of items that they can equip. These may replace the default outfit, or may be worn over the top. For example, a player's bare legs are visible when wearing shorts, even if the default outfit includes long trousers. However, a stripy pirate shirt is a sleeveless garment that allows the sleeves of the default top to show.
Novelty clothes used to be given as a reward from random events. Such outfits included mime clothing among others. As random events are discontinued, these can now be purchased from Iffie. Novelty clothes can also be obtained from holiday events (such as bunny ears). These are likely to be non-tradeable, though, especially those from recent holiday events.
Clothes versus armour
Some players may consider armour to be a subset of clothes, whilst others may contend that clothes and armour are two distinct groups.
If clothes and armour are separate classifications then it may be sensible to define armour as garments that offer a decent Defence bonus. Clothes could then be defined as any garment that provides no significant Defence bonus, and is worn mainly for looks.
Clothing as a requirement
Some clothes are required to enter certain places. For example, players must be wearing either a chef's hat, The Cooking cape or Varrock armour 3 to enter the Cooks' Guild. Players used to have to wear a brown apron to enter the Crafting Guild (until the Hard Falador Tasks were completed) but this has since then been removed.
Some quests require the player to wear particular clothes, usually as a disguise. For example, players must be wearing H.A.M. robes for parts of Death to the Dorgeshuun. They must wear a desert disguise (composed of a Kharidian headpiece and a fake beard) for part of The Feud. In Shadow of the storm, players must wear three pieces of "evil clothing" in order for Evil Dave to allow them into the group.
Assistance in skills
Some skills are more easily trained whilst wearing certain clothes. For example, whilst picking the pockets of H.A.M. members to train Thieving, wearing a complete set of H.A.M. robes means that the player has a greater chance of success. Whilst training Hunter (at least when using pitfall trap methods), players can ask the fancy dress shop owner in Varrock to make clothes out of animal fur. This can be larupia hunter gear, graahk hunter gear or kyatt hunter gear, and each one can include a top, legs, and a hat.
Wearing the right fur clothes increases the chance of successfully hunting animals.
Clan members may prefer all to wear the same clothes, or at least one common item of clothing. Team capes are particularly popular, since they make any other player wearing the same type of team cape appear as a blue marker on the minimap. This can be a useful way of keeping track of allies in player killing activities, as well as providing a clan with a kind of uniform. However, with the recent clan update many simply wear a Clan Cloak, which is given to them by being a member of the clan and features the clans design and colours.
Clothes are also symbolic in riots. Players may wear a pink skirt to show support for the rioters, a Wizard robe skirt to show support for Jagex, or green or black skirt to show neutrality. Players wear these regardless of their gender.
Also notable is the difference in clothing's appearance when on male or female players/NPCs. When on female characters, clothes will reveal more of the player's body than when on a male character. This is likely intentional, due to the fact that female styles are more body revealing than male styles in the western world and many other different societies.