While most of us have seen pictures of Ancient Greeks in their robes and drapery, have you ever wondered what all those different types of clothing are called, and what their significance was? In this article we shine a light on the various clothing styles and garments worn in those ancient times.
First – what they didn't wear. Children often roamed around naked, particularly while in the household, which they rarely left. At most they were given a diaper to wear around the waist. Similarly, nudity was often practiced by Spartan males while doing their military exercises. Male athletes would also refrain from wearing clothing while performing sports.
When they did have to cover themselves, the Greeks might choose to wear a shawl known as an Epiblema. Colorful and often worn in the fall, these garments were preferred by women, although even men in office would wear special kinds of Eplibema.
[caption id="attachment_1274" align="alignnone" width="152"] Eplibema[/caption]
Another garment favored by women included veils. These veils would cover the face and hair, and would often be worn by women of higher status who did not wish to show their face or hands. This is in stark contrast to the idea of an open Greek society; nonetheless, there is enough literature to prove the veil's presence.
[caption id="attachment_1275" align="alignnone" width="176"] Ancient Greek Veils[/caption]
The basic design of dress in Ancient Greece was the Chiton. A rectangular piece of fabric, the early Doric style didn't even have sleeves, being pinned at the shoulders and gathered about the waist. The Ionic style, developed later, was a wider piece of fabric pinned all the way to the wrists and neck but gathered in a similar style at the waist. Both men and women wore it.
[caption id="attachment_1276" align="alignnone" width="164"] Chiton[/caption]
To tie your Chiton, you would need a belt, either at the waist or above, at the breast. This breast-level belt was known as the Strophion and it was quite popular in ancient Greece, especially among women, They may have used it as an outer support for the breasts, as opposed to inner undergarments.
A Chlamys was a cloak-like garment that might be worn in addition to a Chiton, but was sometimes the sole clothing for young men at least. Originally a loincloth, the rectangular fabric was later draped in different ways including over the shoulders.
[caption id="attachment_1272" align="alignnone" width="221"] Chlamys[/caption]
Another type of cloak was the Himation, often used by men over a Chiton. Since covering the left shoulder was important for Greeks, men would use it to cover their left shoulders, and women too would wear it. Himations were also brightly-colored with designs on their edges.
Finally, the Peplus was one of the most common clothes worn by women. A tube-like garment, the top edge would be folded down until it reached the waist and the folded edge pinned by the shoulders similar to a Chiton. The folded extra cloth would give an impression of a second cloth.
[caption id="attachment_1277" align="alignnone" width="110"] Peplus[/caption]
Finally, there were the Greek sandals. While most Greeks went barefoot, some chose to use fancy footwear. These included the carbatine, a type of leather sandal and the Cothurnus, a type of thick-soled boot that covered the whole foot.
[caption id="attachment_1278" align="alignnone" width="227"] Greek sandals[/caption]