ANCIENT GREEK COSTUME

5th c BC to 1st C AD

PAUL ANDERSEN


 

 

You have before you a very simple and unpretentious document, one not intended as an academic tome but a practical manual.

All garments have been personally constructed, draped, test run, and they work !!!.

The following are a few practical pointers regarding modern construction of ancient Greek clothing.

Materials: The only acceptable materials are linen and wool, although a percentage of natural fibre blends such as cotton is acceptable, as it doesn’t adversely affect the appearance or draping quality of the base linen.

Construction: Whilst all non-visible seams may be machine sewn, all hems, sleeves and collars should be hand sewn to avoid highly visible machine stitching.

Fastenings: Garments not sewn together were fastened by long pins, fibulae, brooches or buttons of bone, wood.

Suppliers: The best and cheapest location to find linen, linen blends and wool are the Vietnamese Material Shops at Cabramatta, particularly "Hong Kong Fabrics". Failing this more expensive options such as Home Yardage & Lincraft stores usually carry some linen & wool blends.

Bone Buttons: The Bead Company, Hurstville

The following is a bibliography of useful costuming books:

J Sebesta & L Bonfante "The World of Roman Costume"

University of Wisconsin, 1994

ISBN 0-2999-13850-x

Francois Boucher "A History of Costume in the West"

Thames & Hudson, 1966

ISBN 0-500-27

John Warry Warfare in the Classical World

University of Oklahoma Presss

ISBN 0-8061-2794-5


 

CHITON

 

 

Worn By: Both sexes.

Construct: A rectangular piece of cloth approximately 1.5 to 2.5 to 3 meters long & at least 1 meter wide on the drop, which is sewn into a tube.

Length: Varied from mid-thigh to full length ankle versions.

Draping:

    1. The person steps inside the tube.

    1. Allowing sufficient room for the arms, the garment is fastened front to back over the shoulders.
    2. Finally the garment is gathered at the waist with a belt/cord and the drapery arranged to drop evenly.

Variations: A more complex version is made from 2 pieces of cloth fastened or buttoned at the shoulders & sewn from belt level to the bottom of the drop.

Multiple fastenings of either fibulae (pins) or buttons were common.

 



EXOMIS

 

 

 

 

Worn By: Males.

Construct: A rectangular piece of cloth approx. 2 meters long and least 1 meter wide.

Length: Varied from genitalia exposing to just above knee length.

Draping:

    1. The material is folded in half, the person steps inside the tube & draws the material under the right arm fastening it over the left shoulder.

II. The garment is then belted & the material arranged to drop evenly.

 

 

 



TUNIC

 

 

 

 

Worn By: Males

Construct: Two rectangular pieces of material approximately 80-90cm wide x 1meter long, sewn together at the top to leave a neck opening.

The body is cut to a broad "T" and sewn up the sides to leave adequate openings for the arms.

Length: From mid-thigh to ankle. Sleeves usually to crook of the arm.

Long sleeves were known but not common as they were considered a sign of weakness & effeminacy.

Draping:

    1. The garment is gathered at the waist with a belt/cord and the drapery arranged to drop a little longer at the front than at the back.

 

 


 

HIMATION

The Greek version of the Roman Toga.

Worn By: Males

Construct: A long rectangular piece of material approximately 4 — 5 meters long and 1.2 — 1.5 meters wide.

Eg: For a Man 5"8" = 4.2m long & 1.4m wide

Length: Worn draped about the body from shoulder to ankle.

Draping:

    1. One end of the garment is thrown over the left shoulder to hang between calf and ankle.
    2. The remaining material is brought around under the right arm, across the back and thrown over the left shoulder.
    3. The remaining material is draped along the length of the arm to hand down towards the left foot.

Variations: The end of the garment can be drawn under the right arm & pinned over the left shoulder. The remaining material is thrown over the left arm, across the chest and over the right arm.

Lead weights could be sewn at the end points of the material to weigh them down and make the material sit straight.





PEPLOS - DORIC

 

Worn By: Females.

Construct: A rectangular piece of cloth approx. 2 meters long and least 3 meters wide.

Length: Folded over at the top and dropping full length to the ankle.

Draping:

    1. The material is laid out flat and approximately 30 — 40cm is folded over.
    2. The material is then folded in half with the initial fold facing outwards.
    3. The tube is then raised and the person enters the tube.
    4. Allowing sufficient room for the arms, the garment is pinned front to back over the shoulders.
    5. Finally the garment is gathered at the waist with a belt/cord and the drapery arranged to drop evenly.

Variations: A more complex version is made from 2 pieces of cloth pinned at the shoulders & sewn from the bottom of the drop to the belt level.

This allows more even arrangement of the folds of drapery from the waist.





PEPLOS - IONIC

 

Worn By: Females.

Construct: A rectangular piece of cloth approximately 2 meters long and least 4 meters wide.

Length: Full length to ankle.

Draping:

  1. The material is laid out flat & approx. 50—60cm is folded over.
  2. The material is then folded in half with the initial fold facing outwards.
  3. The tube is then raised and the person enters the tube.
  4. Allowing sufficient room for the arms, the garment is pinned front to back over the shoulders.
  5. Finally the garment is gathered at the waist with a belt/cord and the drapery arranged to drop evenly.

Variations: A more complex version is made from 2 pieces of cloth pinned at the shoulders & sewn from the bottom of the drop to the belt level.

This allows more even arrangement of the folds of drapery from the waist.

A long cord may be passed from the belt crossed between the breasts, passed under the shoulder fastenings, crossed over the back and fastened to the belt at the back to give a more fitted appearance.





CLOAKS & WRAPS

Rectangular Cloaks often referred to as Thessalian Cloaks appear to have been common.

These varied greatly not so much in length, generally about 2.5 meters long, but in width. Some were only a meter wide whilst others appear to have been 1.5 meters in width.

Thessalian Cloaks often had lead or bronze weights at the corners.

Circular cloaks were known, both long and short, but the most common type was called a Chlamys or short hunting cloak.

  

Short Thessalian Cloak Long Thessalian Cloak Chlamys

A form of poncho, either square cut or rounded seems to have enjoyed popularity in the 7th — 5th centuries BC, particularly amongst the Etruscans.

Women wore a type of himation, a variety of rectangular wraps which were draped over forearms or shoulders (see wrap Peplos - Doric), and the mantle.





OTHER CLOTHING

Whilst footwear was known in quite a variety of shapes ranging from thongs, full and toeless sandals, to ankle & calf boots, most people went barefoot inside & out most of the time.

Hats were made from straw, felt and leather, in styles identical to many broad brimmed modern sun hats.

Paul Andersen

paul.andersen@bigpond.com



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