What did people wear in ancient Greece?

Ancient Greek Clothing

Greek baby in a diaper
Greek baby, from
Hellenistic Egypt

Greek babies often wore nothing at all, but sometimes, as in this picture, they wore cloth diapers. If it was cold, of course, they would be more wrapped up. Children also often wore only cloth wrapped around their middles like shorts.

Man wearing a tunic

Greek men mostly wore a tunic, a sort of knee-length t-shirt made of wool or linen. Often, as in this statuette, they wore it only over one shoulder. Over the tunic they wore a wool cloak if it was cold out, which they could also use as a blanket if they needed to (for instance if they were off somewhere fighting a war). Their legs were bare, and they wore leather sandals when they weren't barefoot. But many men went barefoot their whole lives.

Greek woman spinning
A Greek woman spinning

Greek women wore one large piece of wool or linen, wrapped around them and pinned in various ways to make it stay. The ways of pinning it changed over time. One way was to fold the cloth in half, and put it so that the fold in the cloth came under your right armpit and down your right side. Then pull up on the front and the back of the cloth so they meet over your right shoulder and pin the front and the back together with a big safety pin. Then pull more of the front up over your left shoulder, and pin it to the back in the same way. Finally you will notice that your dress is still open all along your left side: tie a belt around your dress at the waist to keep your dress closed. These dresses always came down to their ankles.

When it was cold, women also had long wool cloaks/blankets to keep them warm.

More instructions for Greek costumes for children? Click here (also how to cook Greek food, suggestions for activities).

To find out more about ancient Greek clothing, check out these books from Amazon or your local library:

Greek and Roman Fashions, by Tom Tierney (2001). Coloring book for kids.

Ancient Greek Costumes Paper Dolls, by Tom Tierney (1999). For middle schoolers. "An invaluable aid to designing an historically accurate costume for my 6th grader's 'Greek Festival'", says a reviewer on Amazon.

Costumes of the Greeks and Romans, by Thomas Hope (19th century, reprinted 1986). More advanced illustrations, for teachers and professional costumers.

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber (1995). Not for kids, but an interested high schooler could read it. Fascinating ideas about the way people made cloth in ancient times, and why it was that way.

Greek food
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greek Costumes
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