What Kinds of Clothing Did the Ancient Greeks Wear?
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Clothing in Ancient Greece was very simple. It was designed to be light and loose because of the very hot climate. Linen would be worn in the summer and wool in the winter.
Rich citizens could afford to wear garments made of cotton or silk and these would usually be made of coloured cloth, whereas the poor would wear plain clothes. Cloth could be purchased in the agora -- the marketplace -- but only the rich could afford to shop there; most clothing would be made by the female members of the household. Even the women of rich families would spin wool and make garments.
The chiton was one of the simplest styles of clothing worn by both men and women. It was made from a single piece of fabric, with no cutting and fitting. Instead, the fabric would be draped and folded, then pinned in place. The simplest form of chiton was a rectangle of fabric, folded over at the top. It would then be pinned at the shoulders and often a belt would be added.
The Greek exomis was worn only by men. It was a short garment, ranging from just above the knee to much higher, often exposing the genitalia. The wearer would step into the exomis, then draw the material under the right arm and fasten it with a pin or brooch over the left shoulder, leaving the right arm entirely free. This formed the regular dress for slaves and workmen, because it left the limbs unhampered.
The tunic would be worn by males and was very similar to the chiton, ranging in length from mid-thigh to ankle. Two rectangular pieces of material would be sewn together at the sides, leaving a neck hole. Sleeves would reach to the elbow, making the garment appear as a loose T-shape.
The himation was worn by both men and women and is the Greek version of the Roman toga. The fabric was made from loosely woven wool, often dyed bright colours and draped over the entire body from shoulders to ankles. Men would drape the fabric over the left shoulder, as to leave the left shoulder bare was seen as a sign of barbarism. Women would wear the himation over a chiton as a cloak in the winter.
The peplos was one of the most basic forms of clothing worn by women. Similarly to the chiton, this sleeveless garment would not be fitted or cut, it would be carefully folded in a variety of ways and pinned in place. The peplos had an excess of fabric that was folded over at the top and the sides were left open, so the finished effect would be an open-sided garment with a kind of short cape.