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 Fine Clothes in Varrock. 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 and Pong, who are penguins. Most NPCs never change their clothes, with exceptions including Molly, Sigmund, 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 may be given as a reward from random events (such as mime clothing) or from holiday events (such as bunny ears). These are likely to be non-tradeable, 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 Defence bonus. Clothes could then be defined as any garment that provides no Defence bonus.
Clothing as a requirement
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 Karidian headpiece and a fake beard) for part of The Feud.
Players may even be required to provide clothes as a disguise for non-player characters in quests. In Death to the Dorgeshuun, they must provide H.A.M. robes for Zanik. In Prince Ali Rescue, they must provide a pink skirt for Prince Ali.
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. The manual confirms this: "if you are wearing a full set of H.A.M robes, your chances of blending in and Thieving successfully will increase.
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 minigames, as well as providing a clan with a kind of uniform.
Clothes are also symbolic in riots. Players may wear a pink skirt to show support for the rioters, a blue 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 clothe'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 real world.