Why Do Ghosts Wear Clothes?

As we slide into October, you'll soon be hearing ghost stories more often. In these stories, as well as in books and movies, the ghosts are usually wearing clothes. Why do spirits of the deceased need to wear anything? Both skeptics and believers give their reasons, from the ghosts not wanting to offend people to making sure they are recognized. But ghosts didn't always wear clothes! There have been stories off and on through history about naked ghosts. Really.

A tale that circulated in London between the 15-18th Centuries, concerned the fate of five condemned men. In 1447 the men were said to have been sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered – a particularly grisly fate. Once hanged, the five were cut down from the hanging tree and stripped in preparation for the gruesome denuemont of their punishment. Their clothing was distributed to the gaping crowds. An added twist in the tale lends poignancy to their fate by claiming that a pardon arrived just too late to save them from their deaths.

Railing at the injustice and humiliation of their execution, the unhappy spirits were said to have risen up from their corporeal bodies in a misty vapour. The ghosts accosted the crowd demanding their clothes be returned and then fled. The tale persisted for around three hundred years, with occasional reports of five ghostly naked men importuning startled strangers apparently still seeking the return of their clothing – and presumably their dignity.[2]

Otherwise, ghosts have appeared in tales wearing sheets or shrouds, nightclothes, all black or all white clothing, or everyday garb they wore in life, depending on the era in which the story originated. It seems that ghosts follow fashion! Read a timeline of what ghosts wear, and the sometimes bizarre explanations behind their choices at the Haunted Palace. -via Strange Company

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