Traditional Ancient Greek Garments

Archaeological evidence suggests that Greek clothing was simple and functional.
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Walk through the Greek section of any art or history museum and one element that stands out are the clothing styles of the ancient Greeks. The people of Greece opted for functional and simple fashions, with few attachments and no zippers or buttons. Traditional clothing in Greece favored comfort, and was modified depending on the season.

1 Types and Styles of Clothing

The Greeks constructed their clothing so that they could dress in a number of different styles. Their clothing started with a simple rectangular piece of fabric that they folded and fastened with a pin or tied around their waists using a belt. Sometimes these pieces also functioned as a blanket if the person was traveling and needed cover. This cloak was call the himation.

Both men and women wore tunics, called a “peplos” or “chiton.” Greek men opted for a shorter chiton, going with a knee-length piece. This gave them freedom of movement. The Greeks sewed the chiton pieces together at the sides, but otherwise, their traditional garments flowed freely and without much formal construction.

2 Decorative Color

Clothing in ancient Greece went through a bit of a color revolution, according to the Olympia Greece website. In the earliest days of the country, garments were white. By the sixth century B.C., Greek clothing exploded with color as people learned to make and use dyes. Greek garments also featured decorative patterns and designs in the later years of the civilization. The Greeks also adorned their clothing with embroidered designs and different-color paints.

3 Materials Greeks Used

The Greeks preferred simple fabrics. People most often constructed garments of wool and linen, or silk if their income allowed. In the summertime, linen kept the Greeks cool. During winter, their clothing became thicker to ward off the cold. The Greeks could make their own wool fabric, but they imported linen.

4 Other Clothing Items

The women of ancient Greece had a few decorative pieces of clothing. Women wore a type of shawl over their chiton. The Greeks called this garment an epiblema. Men wore riding cloaks -- chlamys -- which they sometimes donned for trips on horseback. The kolpos, or pouch, was something the ancient Greeks added to their outfits by pulling the chiton over the top of their belt. Finally, because Greek men spent a great deal of time outside, they sometimes wore hats with wide brims. These petasos shielded the eyes and face from the blistering summer sun. The ancient Greeks rarely wore shoes, but if they did, they had slippers, boots or sandals to protect their feet.

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.