Clothing in ancient Greece primarily consisted of the chiton, peplos, himation, and chlamys. Ancient Greek men and women typically wore two pieces of clothing draped about the body: an undergarment (chiton or peplos) and a cloak (himation or chlamys). Clothes were customarily homemade out of various lengths of rectangular linen or wool fabric with little cutting or sewing, and secured with ornamental clasps or pins, and a belt, or girdle (zone). Pieces were generally interchangeable between men and women.
While no clothes have survived from this period, descriptions exist in contemporary accounts and artistic depictions. Clothes were mainly homemade, and often served many purposes (such as bedding). Common clothing of the time was plain white, sometimes incorporating decorative borders. There is evidence of elaborate design and bright colors, but these were less common.
History and types
The chiton was a simple tunic garment of lighter linen that was worn by both sexes and all ages. It consisted of a wide, rectangular tube of material secured along the shoulders and upper arms by a series of fasteners. Chitons typically fell to the ankles of the wearer, but shorter chitons were sometimes worn during vigorous activities by athletes, warriors or slaves.
Often excess fabric would be pulled over a girdle, or belt, which was fastened around the waist (see kolpos). To deal with the bulk sometimes a strap, or anamaschalister was worn around the neck, brought under the armpits, crossed in the back and tied in the front. A himation, or cloak, could be worn over-top of the chiton.
There are two types of chitons – Doric and Ionic. The Doric chiton is “sleeveless”, as sleeve technology had not really been created yet. Much like that on the caryatid to the right, the Doric chiton has a fold over at the top or apoptygma, is attached with fibulae at the shoulders, and is belted at the waist. Unlike the Doric Chiton, the Ionic chiton doesn’t have an apoptygma, and is a long enough rectangle of fabric that when folded in half can complete a wingspan. Before shaped sleeve patterns existed the Greeks attached fibulae (ancient Greek safety pins) all the way up both arms to join the front and back top edges of the fabric. The Ionic chiton was also belted at the waist.
A predecessor to the himation, the peplos was a square piece of cloth that was originally worn over the chiton. The top third of the cloth was folded over and pinned at both shoulders, leaving the cloth open down one side. Sometimes the peplos was worn alone as an alternative form of chiton. As with the chiton, often a girdle or belt would be used to fasten the folds at the waist.
The himation was a simple outer garment worn over the peplos or chiton. It consisted of a heavy rectangular material, passing under the left arm and secured at the right shoulder. The cloak would be twisted around a strap that also passed under the left arm and over the right shoulder. A more voluminous himation was worn in cold weather.
The himation could be pulled up over the head to cover the wearer when they were overcome by emotion or shame.
The chlamys was a seamless rectangle of woolen material worn by men for military or hunting purposes. It was worn as a cloak and fastened at the right shoulder with a brooch or button.
The chlamys was typical Greek military attire from the 5th to the 3rd century BC.
Women often wore a strophion, the bra of the time, under their garments. The strophion was a wide band of wool or linen wrapped across the breasts and tied between the shoulder blades.
Men and women sometimes wore triangular loincloths, called perizoma, as underwear.
Fasteners and buttons
Since clothing was rarely cut or sewn, fasteners and buttons were often used to keep garments in place. Small buttons, pins and brooches were used.
Large pins, called peronai or fibulae, were worn at the shoulders, facing down, to hold the chiton or peplos in place.
Women and men typically wore sandals, slippers, soft shoes, or boots. At home they usually went barefoot.
Ornamentation in the form of jewelry, elaborate hairstyles and make-up was common for women. Small gold ornaments would be sewn onto their clothing and would glitter as they moved.
Ancient Greek clothing was made with silk, linen and most often, wool. The production of fabric was a long and tedious process, making ready-made clothing expensive. It was socially accepted that textile making was primarily women’s responsibility, and the production of high quality textiles was regarded as an accomplishment for women of high status. Once made, the cloth was rarely cut. The seamless rectangles of fabric were draped on the body in various ways with little sewing involved.
Source From Wikipedia