Middle English, from Old English hlud "noisy; making or emitting noise" (of voices, musical instruments, etc.), from Proto-Germanic *hludaz "heard" (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon hlud, Middle Dutch luut, Dutch luid, Old High German hlut, German laut "loud"), from PIE *klutos- (source also of Sanskrit srutah, Greek klytos "heard of, celebrated," Latin inclutus "renowned, famous," Armenian lu "known," Irish cloth "noble, brave," Welsh clod "praise, fame"), suffixed form of root *kleu- "to hear."
Of places, "noisy," from 1590s. Application to colors, garments, etc. ("flashy, showy") is by 1849. Also used colloquially of notably strong or bad smells. Paired with clear (adj.) at least since c. 1650.