4. From Cloth to Clothing

Once people learned to weave large pieces of cloth, [about 5000 years ago], they started using that cloth to cover themselves.  Cloth was very valuable, so at first it was not cut, but used whole in various ways.Mesopotamia

Assyrian shawl

Egyptian tunic 2

Egyptian shawl-dress

Egyptian fold

Grecian Clothing

Pictorial evidence has enabled us to have a very clear idea of Ancient Greek dress. The fashion history of ancient Greece has been carefully illustrated on vases, pots and in statue form.

One common factor of the styles of all early clothes is that they are made from uncomplicated basic shapes which rely on girdles, belts and brooches, clasps or pins to create shape and form around the human body.The most famous Greek pattern is the Greek key pattern.

Grecian clothes were little more than artfully arranged pieces of cloth, pinned and tucked into position as shown here.

Their elegance is derived from the careful arrangement of folds and complex arrangements of girdles, strapping or belts. Simple borders fall into interesting patterns when arranged as a long chiton robe.

Embroidered patterns such as checks and floral forms were used to embellish the fabric edges to create border effects.  The most famous Greek pattern is the Greek key/fret pattern shown here.

Initially Greeks used wool and linen fabrics, but as the society became more sophisticated they traded for silk goods and it was not so much fashion styles that set individuals apart as the differentiation by the luxury that silk fabrics offered.

Colours for Ancient Greek clothing were not just white or natural as was first thought.  While paint had worn away from statue evidence, further investigation showed the women of ancient Greece wearing several colours such as yellow, red, purple, blue or green.

Ancient Greeks had 3 styles of clothing

Chiton, Peplos, Him

Chiton drapeThe Ancient Greek Cloak, Chlamys or HimationGreek cloaks.  Chlamys - in colder weather the larger cloak was worn, this was called a Greek Himation.

The Ancient Greek cloak was a simple rectangle or square of cloth thrown around the shoulders and fastened mostly with a bronze pin. The name for this particular short cloak mostly worn as a short military cloak by young men or horsemen was a  chlamys.  

In colder weather the larger cloak was worn, this was called a  Himation.

The female cloak is called a Greek peplos and was worn over their chiton.


Himation fold


Romans evolved the Greek himation into the toga [worn over a tunic].

Toga fold

Much of this information was gleaned from this highly recommended site:





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