How to make a Grecian dress

Updated July 20, 2017

The classic Ancient Greek peplos or chiton comes from draping and folding a soft piece of fabric and securing it with belts, girdles, clasps and ties. Even if you have no sewing skills, you can make the dress in minutes. Make a short version for the beach and a long, flowing design for evening wear. The peplos is perfect for summer festivals, parties and picnics.

Choose fabric that is the same width as your whole arm span. Measure from your neck to the floor and add 12 inches. Cut the fabric.

Fold the 12 inch excess over at the top of the fabric then fold the whole piece in half lengthwise. The excess flap should be on the outside at the top.

Pin two decorative clasps or brooches where your shoulders will go, fastening the front and back of the dress together. Leave a gap larger than your head will need, so that the neckline will drape gently from shoulder to shoulder.

Slip the dress over your shoulders so that the 12 inch excess shows at the front and back. One side will be completely open. The large gap from the other shoulder is for your arm to go through. The fabric will drape under your arm from front to back.

Adjust the shoulder clasps if necessary until you are happy with the drape of the neckline. Wrap the two pieces of fabric on the open side loosely around your body, tucking the front piece underneath the back. Secure with safety pins under your arm and at your waist.

Wrap the gold ribbon or rope around the dress like a belt or girdle. The Ancient Greek fashion was to tie it between the bust and the waist, like an Empire line or Jane Austen style dress. The 12 inch flap should drape loosely in front of the belt.

Arrange the side fabric in a waterfall fashion so that the hemline on the open side rises slightly. Secure with a decorative clasp at the height of the belt.


Measure from your neck to your knees for a shorter version of the dress.

To complete your Greek Goddess look, wear flat leather sandals and a floral garland in your hair. Bring the dress bang up to date by accessorizing with exotic statement jewellery.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft white dress fabric
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Gold ribbon
  • Brooches or clasps
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About the Author

Catherine Ketley was a teacher in London for 20 years, later authoring online materials for the British government and National College. She moved into print media in 2001. Ketley holds a bachelor's degree in education and English. In 2002, she also earned a distinction for postgraduate research.