Clothing in Ancient Greece was primarily homemade, and the fabrics could be used as garments, shrouds, or blankets. Both men and women wore two main garments invented by Greece that consisted of a tunic and a cloak.
Both those pieces were floor-length while men wore a tunic similar to that worn by the women; however, primarily knee-length.
The Greeks wore light clothes for most of the year as the climate used to be hot. Clothes were secured by ornamental pins on the shoulder and a belt or a sash at the waist.
Women wore necklaces, earrings, and bracelets made of gold and silver. They wore a large cloak over their regular clothing and leather shoes during the winter.
The top 10 most famous ancient Greek outfits are described below:
What was clothing like in ancient Greece?
In ancient Greece, clothing included chitons, peplos, himation, and chlamys. Most of them were wrapped around the shoulder and pinned together with pins and brooches.
Who made clothes in ancient Greece?
Slaves and women usually made clothes. The clothes were costly; hence, most of them were homemade.
What was the clothing in ancient Greece made of?
The temperature was scorching most of the year, so Greeks wore clothes made out of light fabrics. During the summer, they wore linen fabrics, and during the winter, they wore woolen garments.
What colors were commonly used in clothing in ancient Greece?
The Greeks used bright colors such as green, indigo, yellow, violet, and dark red. They also included earthy colors in clothing.
It was a rectangular piece of linen and was draped around the body. They kept it in place using a broach on the shoulder and a belt at the waist.
There were mainly two types of chiton. One was the Doric chiton which had no sleeves and was pinned at the shoulder. It was made from linen.
The other was an Ionic chiton, made of a much more comprehensive fabric or wool and pinned from the neck to the wrists.
Ionic chitons became more famous, especially in men, by the Late Archaic period. The sleeved chitons were worn mainly by the Priests and actors of Ancient Greece, whereas the shorter chitons were worn by Athletes, warriors, and slaves.
Peplos was a square piece of cloth worn over the chiton by women. It was a body-length garment, the top-third of which was folded over and pinned at both the shoulders, leaving it open one side.
The women folded the upper part down to the waist, forming an Apotygma. Sometimes it was worn as an alternative to chiton. When worn with a chiton, a belt was used to fasten the folds at the waist.
Peplos was the most famous clothing among women during the middle of the classical era around 500 BC. Mostly, girls were chosen to make peploi out of a large piece of fabric during ancient Greek rituals which took about nine months to complete.
Chlamys was the modern-day cloak in the ancient Greek version. They made it from a seamless rectangular piece of woolen material. It was about the size of a blanket, and men wore it for military or hunting purposes.
They initially wore it by wrapping it around the waist, similar to a loincloth. However, it was worn over the waist by the end of the fifth century.
It was tied at the right shoulder with a brooch when worn as a cloak over the clothing. However, it was mainly worn as a sole item of clothing by young soldiers and messengers.
Himation is an outer garment worn over chiton or peplos. It first originated around the sixth century BC and was worn by both men and women. Similar to chlamys, himation was worn as a cloak or over the chiton.
It was made of a heavy rectangular material passed under the left arm and secured at the right shoulder. The cloak, too, would be twisted around a strap that also passed under the left arm and attached over the right shoulder.
Statues and decorations found on pottery displays were dyed with bright colors and covered or bordered with intricate designs, either woven into or painted on the fabric.
These were used chiefly on long journeys. Greek women wore them in many styles. The symmetrical style was the most popular one, which was used as a large veil.
A baggier himation was worn during winter. It could be pulled up over the head to cover the person in case of situations of emotion or shame. Women also wore a shawl called an epiblema. The edges were made sure t not to be dragged on the ground as it was considered poor taste. Men carefully wrapped it around their left shoulder as a bare left shoulder was taken as a sign of barbarism.
Nudity was quite common in ancient Greece, depending on the place and occasion. Spartans did their physical training naked as they had rough training. Both Spartan men, as well as women, would sometimes be naked during public events and festivals.
They kept this tradition in practice to encourage virtue for women while men were away at work.
Male nudity, on the other hand, followed strict rules. Male athletes were allowed to participate in competitions such as Olympics naked, while that was banned for women. For men, artists used nudity to portray various roles of men, from heroism to state of defeat.
Men would stride around naked, free of their togas in the bedroom and at parties called symposia. However, going around town naked, riding horses nude, and going to the battles naked was not an option. Nakedness during combat was suicidal.
Shoes go much further than the ancient Greeks, and they were rather practical than stylish until the late Middle Ages. Both men and women wore slippers, sandals, and shoes with a soft liner.
They preferred walking around barefoot at home but would wear a leather sandal called carbatine while walking outside or traveling. Carbatines originated at the beginning of the ancient Greek civilization itself.
A classic sandal was made of a single piece of leather secured to the sole with laces pulling the tops of the shoes together when tied, exposing the toes. Footwear like these was worn until 1000 AD.
Cothurnus was a boot-like piece of footwear. This, too, was made from leather with red straps in the front. The boot-like shape covered up the whole foot and had thicker soles.
4. The Veil
Ancient Greek women wore veils routinely, and classical Greek statues depicted women with their heads and faces covered by a veil. Wearing veils was considered a sign of respectability and high status.
Assyria had enforced laws regarding which women must and must not wear a veil based on their class, rank, and occupation in society. On the same lines, female slaves and prostitutes were forbidden to wear a veil and faced penalties if they did so.
Veils also acted as a way for women to express themselves and acquire control over their movement and status among men. Lysistrata women used veils to manipulate the sexual allure and send commanding sexual signals despite its intent of female concealment.
However, the veil supported the idea of female modesty, chastity, silence, and invisibility, eventually contributing to female separation and seclusion.
Epiblema is the Greek term for a shawl and is worn over the peplos or chiton in ancient Greece. It was most popular among women while strolling outside their home and was commonly worn with Doric chitons, which had no sleeves.
Epiblema was sewn in various colors and usually worn during autumn. The rule was to fasten it at the breast and across the neck and collarbone, and the upper edge was typically decorated.
Men rarely wore these fabrics; however, Greek men associated with the government donned epiblemas of a specific style during working hours, especially those in the higher ranks such as officials and senators.
Belts being a standard accessory in ancient Greece, it was a fashion choice to use belts around the waist to cinch a chiton. They used specific belts to fasten loose-fitting chitons around the chest area, and this breast band was known as strophion.
It can also be compared to a modern-day-bra but as an outer layer rather than under the clothes. The fabric used was wool or linen wrapped across the breasts and connected among the shoulder blades.
1. Clothes for children
It was common for Greek children not to wear anything and roam around naked most of the time, especially at home. As for clothes, they would usually wear a cloth wrapped around their waists, and wearing full clothing such as chitons and footwear was quite unusual for the Greek children.
When they started going to school, they would wear the same clothes as adults, including a chiton.
Chitons were large, held together by pins on the shoulders and a strap around the tail. They were made out of wool during the winter and out of linen during the summer.
The ancient Greeks embraced various clothing styles and came up with their style based on their physiology. The clothing culture had a massive impact on the numerous oldest civilizations including Roman Empire.
Western civilizations, from chitons, peploi to strophions and leather sandals, Chlamys, and cloak-like clothing, influenced Christian society. As Jesus himself portrayed a very similar cloak and veils are still prevalent in most cultures in the modern-day.
Children, however, had a fundamental idea of clothing as they mostly roamed around naked. The only clothing they wore was cloth diapers wrapped around their waist—children, when they started going to school, used to wear regular adult clothing like chitons.