Three Types of Clothing the Ancient Greeks Wore

Greek clothing flowed organically.
... Hemera Technologies/ Images

Ancient Greeks sported clothing that was colorful and ornamental, even though stone statues from the period don't visually reflect the colors and intricate fabrics they wore. Men and women wore the same basic attire, typically made from the same materials, but the length of their clothing was different. Ancient Greek clothing was designed with simple structural elements that required basic stitching and minimal tailoring.

1 Free-Flowing Tunics

Men and women wore tunics, called chitons or peploses. Both tunics had rectangular shapes, but chitons were constructed from light-weight materials, such as imported linen, and peploses were made from heavier materials, such as wool. Tunics had seams on either side and a pin or button held the open-arm sleeves together at the top. Women's tunics extended to the floor and some women wore soft, girdle-like bands around their waists called strophions. Men also wore floor-length tunics, but for outdoor events, many sported knee-length designs. A short, knee-length tunic was called an exomis and fastened with a pin on the left shoulder, crafted for exercise, hard labor and horseback riding.

2 Linen or Wool Cloaks

Ancient Greeks wore linen or wool cloaks, called himations, over their tunics. A himation was a rectangular-shaped piece of fabric that draped over one or both shoulders, similar to a sleeveless stole or shawl. Women wore full-length himations, but men often wore shorter, knee-length versions called chalmys over their tunics to provide mobility for outdoor activities. Some men wore wide-brimmed hats outdoors and women occasionally wore flat-brimmed hats with a high peak at the crown.

3 Cord or Belt

To keep from stepping on their long tunics, ancient Greeks often tied rope or fabric belts around the center of their garments and bloused some of the material over the top of the cord. The belts weren't usually visible and were often camouflaged by the excess material. With the belts, Greek women made their floor-length chitons and peploses into ankle-length attire. Men could shorten their tunics to ankle- or knee-length as needed.

4 Soft Shoes or Boots

Footwear was soft, comfortable and elastic. Ancient Greeks wore a tall, fabric boot called a cotharnus that was sometimes elevated with a high sole. Their shoes resembled everyday slippers or sandals and often had straps that held them in place. Some sandals had a strap that went between the first and second toes or twisted up and around the ankle to provide support and stability. Greeks also went barefoot when footwear wasn't essential.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.