Clothes for both men and women were simple in style in ancient Greece and designed for comfort in the warm climate.
Most people wore clothes made of wool and linen. Wealthy people could afford to wear clothes made of cotton and silk, but these materials were expensive because they were imported from other countries.
Greek summers were very hot so light fabrics were worn to stay cool.
Women did all the work to make the cloth at home. Wool was spun into fine threads using a spindle and then woven into fabric using a wooden loom.
Clothes were made from squares of fabric, so the cloth was made to fit the person rather than being cut and sewn.
Fabric woven to make clothes was also used to make blankets.
Women wore a simple, sleeveless tunic known as a peplos. It was made from long pieces of fabric fastened together at the shoulders and worn with a belt at the waist.
The fabric was folded down over the belt so that the peplos looked like it was two items of clothing. A soft strip of linen or wool known as a strophion was sometimes worn as a belt just under the bust.
A wrap known as a himation was worn over the peplos by some women.
Women never wore short clothing. Their tunics were always long enough to reach the floor.
Men wore a tunic known as a chiton. It was shorter than a woman’s peplos and could be knee-length or shorter. The fabric was pinned at the shoulders and a belt was worn around the waist.
A short chiton known as an exomis was worn by men when exercising, horse-riding, or working hard outdoors. Men also wore a wrap known as a himation and it could be worn on top of a chiton or with nothing underneath it.
A cloak known as a chlamys was sometimes worn by soldiers or by men when out hunting.
An exomis was only fastened across one shoulder, and it was always the left one.
People in Ancient Greece went barefoot most of the time, especially at home. Simple sandals made of leather were worn by men and women, and sometimes slippers, soft shoes, and boots.
Some Ancient Greeks would live their whole lives without ever wearing anything on their feet.
Babies and very young children wore only a cloth nappy in the summer and then they’d be wrapped in a blanket in winter. Young children often wore nothing at all, or just a short piece of cloth fastened around their middle.
Boys wore no clothes at all when taking part in athletics activities.
Clothes were often white, but fabric could be dyed bright colours using dye made from plants and insects.
Red came from the root of the madder plant or from cochineal insects (but only the females), yellow came from crocus or saffron flowers, and blue came from the leaves of the woad plant.
Purple was the colour worn by royalty and powerful people. A dye was made by crushing a type of small snail.
The tunics worn by both men and women were fastened at the shoulders with clasps or pins known as fibulae.
They were very decorative pieces of jewellery and animals were often featured in their design. Lions, snakes, birds, and sea life were popular choices.
Jewellery was worn as a status symbol, so a wealthy man might have a belt made of gold.
Facts about Ancient Greek Clothing
- Clothes were usually made from wool and linen
- Fabric was spun and woven by women at home
- Women wore a long tunic known as a peplos
- Men wore a short tunic known as a chiton
- Men and women went barefoot or wore sandals
- Young children often wore no clothes at all
- Clothes were white or dyed bright colours
- Women and men wore jewellery on their clothing
Questions and Answers
Most people in Ancient Greece wore clothes made with which two fabrics?
Wool and linen.
What name was given to the long sleeveless tunic worn by many women?
True or false: Men always wore long tunics that reached the floor.
False. Men wore shorter tunics than women.
What type of clothing was a chlamys?
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