Fashion in Ancient Greece -

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Fashion in Ancient Greece

The Ancient World and Fashion > Civilizations of Ancient Greece

In the warm, dry climate of Greece, people did not need many clothes. Both men and women wore a simple tunic, and added a cloak for cooler weather. Tunics and cloaks were held in place by pins or brooches, which could be plain or very elaborate. Usually people went barefoot, but sometimes they wore simple leather sandals.
The basic dress for women was the chiton. It was made from a single piece of rectangular cloth, fastened at the shoulders and left open at one side. A girdle was also tied at the waist to hold the chiton in place. There were two main styles of chiton. The Doric chiton was a sleeveless tunic, while the Ionic chiton had elbow-length sleeves, which were fastened at intervals across the shoulders. Over the chiton, women wore a himation. This was a rectangular wrap, which could vary in size and weight, from a light scarf to a warm traveling cloak.
Most Greek men wore a simple tunic sewn up at the side and fastened with a pin or brooch on one or both shoulders. Young men wore their tunics short, while older men and nobles had ankle-length robes. Craftsmen, farmers, and slaves often wore a loincloth. Sometimes men wore a himation, which they wrapped around the body with one end thrown over one shoulder. This could be worn on its own or as a second garment over a tunic.

The impressive necklace
The impressive necklace


The Greeks liked to wear delicate earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Wealthy Greeks wore jewelry made from gold, silver, and ivory, while the poorer people’s jewelry was made from bronze, lead, and bone. Jewelers sometimes added enamel for color, but precious stones were only used at the end of the Greek period.

This impressive necklace would have been worn by a wealthy woman. It is made from solid gold.


In the early Greek period, both men and women wore their hair long and loose, held in place by a simple headband. However, from around 500 BCE onward, men’s hair became much shorter, and their beards were neatly trimmed, while women usually wore their hair up, bound by several ribbons and scarves. From around 300 BCE men shaved off their beards and wore their hair cropped close to their heads. Meanwhile, female hairstyles became extremely elaborate, and women often waved or curled their hair.

Greek vase
Greek vase

Beauty Care

Women in ancient Greece spent a lot of time and effort making themselves look beautiful. They would bathe frequently and rub perfumed oils into their skin to prevent it from drying out. Women also used oil on their hair to make it shine. Some women dyed their hair and wore wigs or false hairpieces, while others used padding to improve their figure, or wore thick-soled sandals to make themselves look taller. Many Greek women wore makeup. They whitened their skin with special creams, darkened their eyebrows, and used rouge on their cheeks.

A couple exchanging gifts, painted on a Greek vase. The wife wears a chiton while her husband wears a flowing robe with the end draped over his shoulder.

Wealthy woman massages oil into her hair
Wealthy woman massages oil into her hair

Spartan women

In the warlike city-state of Sparta, women looked and behaved very differently from their counterparts in the rest of Greece. Spartan women were encouraged to spend most of their time outside, exercising and playing sports to make sure that they had robust, healthy babies. Statues of Spartan women and girls show that they were very strong and muscular. Usually they wore a knee-length dress, with a loose skirt to allow plenty of movement. One statue even shows a Spartan girl wearing a thigh-length tunic with a high slit in one side.

Looking and smelling good was very important to the Greeks. Here, a wealthy woman massages oil into her hair, while her servant holds the oil jar.

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