Greek Clothing: An Inspiration for the Ages
While clothes of this time did not survive, we have works that describe the clothing of this era in detail and artists depictions, such as those found in paintings and sculpture. Greek clothing was very different from Egyptian clothing, Greek style clothing influenced and inspired the masses, including but not limited to, the Romans. Clothing of this time was multifunctional, for example, it might also be used as bedding. The majority of all clothing was homemade and each article was made to get the most usage. Garments were described as either all white, or elaborate in design with bright colors.
Women were clothed in tunics, T-shaped garments similar to a loose fitting T-shirt. Tunics originated as a linen undergarments to protect the skin against the harsh feel of wool, and were made of available fibers. Under a tunic, common practice would have been to wear a strophion, it’s function was to provide a barrier between the skin and an itchy, uncomfortable fabric and it was worn on the midsection of the body. The strophion took the place of the tunic once the tunic became an outer garment. During colder weather, the clothing of choice was a peplos, an outer garment, it was primarily made of wool. This article was adorned with clasps at the shoulders, and/or belted to form a blouse at the top. The last layer of clothing a woman wore during this era would have been an epbilema, or shawl that was draped over the shoulders and over the tunic. The epiblema was worn to public events or could also be worn to the market.
Men’s clothing was similar in style as women’s clothing and some mens articles became unisex. For example, a loincloth was worn by men and women alike, it was wrapped around the lower half of the body much like a diaper. If the climate permitted, male workers would wear it as there sole outdoor garment. Another unisex garment was the chiton, much like the peplos that varied in length; it was made with a much lighter fabric than the peplos. Men wore it at the knees and women at the ankle. The article of Greek clothing that most inspired the Romans was the chlamys, a blanket sized, rectangular and usually woolen piece of fabric worn as a cloak. This garment became a military staple in dress and later inspired the dress of the Roman military. The chlamys was loose fitting; it could also be draped around the arm and could further provide light shielding. During colder weather, the himation could provide further warmth than the chlamys; it was made of thicker, or denser material to provide warmth against the elements.
Common Greek accessories of the era were ornamental clasps, pins, belts, sashes, and girdles. Though the style of clothing was similar amongst people, the accessories are what set them apart; the more intricate the adornment, the higher the class. Robes were also available during this era (men’s were knee length and women’s were worn at the ankle). At home, it was common to go barefoot; sandals, soft shoes and slippers were the more popular foot covering at this time but closed shoes and protective boots were worn by horsemen.