What's the difference between Kleidung and Bekleidung?
What's the difference between Kleidung and Bekleidung and how do you choose which to use?
Being German I can say there is no real difference. A "Bekleidungsgeschäft" would be a "clothing store" but also a "Kleidungsgeschäft". I think it's not essential to learn the word "Bekleidung". "Kleidung" is more common. You would say "Ich trage Kleidung" but not "Ich trage Bekleidung". Maybe "Bekleidung" is a little bit old-fashioned. I did this translation wrong in the test, and I am a native speaker..
The be- prefix tends to be similar in German to the be- prefix in older English words. For example, the difference between decked and bedecked. You might say some one is all decked out, but bedecked tends to mean more like decorated, like, the house was all bedecked with Christmas lights. So I would guess Kleidung is used more when you're talking about wearing clothes, and Bekleidung is used more when you're talking about getting all dressed up. That's just a guess, though.
Ther are definitely slight differences in actual use. And on top of that those may (or may not) be regionally different (which is generally true in such cases in any language... So what I say here might not be universally true). Where I live you would rather say "die Kleidung einer Person" (a person's clothes) or "ein Bekleidungsgeschäft" (a shop that sells clothes) or "Herrenbekleidung" (~men's wear).
So "Kleidung" is mostly used when referring to the specific stuff some one is wearing, whereas "Bekleidung" refers to clothes in a more genral sense. If that's too complicated for you you will be on the safe side if you only use "Kleidung" in any context ;)
I'd say there is no real difference. Kleidung is just more often used! BUT sometimes you are not on the safe side.
Because there is also Kleid (Sg) Kleider (Pl)!
Kleid is dress or gown. Kleider the plural of it. Strictly female stuff, unless a men wears it, of course.
But Kleider can also refer to anyone's clothes! which is Kleidung & Bekleidung
Kleiderordnung is most widely used, but Kleidungsordnung and Bekleidungsordnung too.
Beinkleider not so much used anyway, but still all three forms are ok.
But now this well known phrase: Kleider machen Leute.
Clothes "make" people. -> ~ Clothes define peoples' reputation. (?) This phrase is only known this way. Saying it with Kleidung or Bekleidung (...macht Leute) would sound weird, although it would absolutely mean the same.
Verkleidung is a Halloween costume though! If Bekleidung is translated to those costumes, i'd say it is wrong, at least imprecise, since Halloween costumes are of course still clothes.
I'm by no means an expert, but I have seen duolingo translate Kleidung to clothing, and Bekleidung to costume. EDIT: I googled both terms and found the German wikipedia page for clothing http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleidung, which starts Kleidung (auch Bekleidung), auch meaning also, as far as I can tell. So I'm stumped.
It's hard to find explanations of slight differences in words online... Something I always use as a tip is to do a google image search of the terms. Kleidung gives general pictures of clothing... Bekleidung seems to give more pictures of clothing hanging in stores. So perhaps Bekleidung carries the connotation of shopping and purchasing...?
It's pretty much the same thing. But I've learned that any words that are alike only with a Be- difference (or a ver- for a verb as well) can have a slightly different meaning. With the particle Be-, the term takes a more practical sense. Die Kleidung einer Person = this person's clothes. Die BEkleidung einer Person = the way this person dresses. It's really hard to make the difference, and I don't think it would change anything meaning-wise in a conversation.
Kleidung v Bekleidung:
They are very similar words, and they can both be clothes, although Bekleidung mostly refers to clothing as goods, where clothing is an item of a sort, while Kleidung refers to them normally.
"Der Laden verkauft Bekleidung für Sport." (The shop sells clothing for sports)
"Ich trage nur Kleidung aus Baumwolle." (I only wear clothes made of cotton)
Bekleidung can also be a costume, or whatever covers you, while Kleidung is more specifically clothes.