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A Brief History of Clothes

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Egyptian Clothes

It’s no surprise that the hot climate Egyptians wore only light clothing. Men wore a loincloth and a kind of kilt. Women wore dresses with shoulder straps. Clothes were made of linen or cotton.

Later in Egyptian history clothes became more elaborate and colourful. It was normal for children to go naked.

Most people went barefoot much of the time but they sometimes wore sandals made from papyrus.

Egyptians wore jewellery. Those who could afford it wore jewellery of gold, silver and precious stones. Poor people wore jewellery made of copper or bronze. Both men and women wore make-up.

Greek Clothes

Greek women wore rectangles of woollen cloth folded and pinned together with holes for the arms and head. It was tied at the waist. This garment was called a peplos.

Towards the end of the 5th century some Greek women began to wear a long linen tunic called a chiton. Women also wore cloaks called himations. Women wore jewellery like necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Rich women carried parasols to protect them from the sun.

Men wore plain tunics of wool tied at the waist. Men also wore cloaks called himations and if they were travelling they wore broad rimmed hats.

Although ordinary Greeks wore clothes of wool or linen, the rich could afford cotton and silk.

Roman Clothes

Roman men wore tunics. Roman citizens wore a semi-circular piece of cloth called a toga. It was folded over one shoulder. men wore white togas made of wool or linen. Senators wore a toga with a purple stripe as a mark of their rank. Women wore long dresses called a stola, dyed in different colours. Often they wore a long shawl called a palla.

Ordinary Romans wore clothes of wool or linen but the rich could afford cotton and silk. Roman clothes were held with pins and brooches.

Saxon Clothes

Saxon men wore a shirt and tunic. They wore trouser like garments called breeches. Sometimes they extended to the ankle but sometimes they were shorts. Men might wear wool leggings held in place by leather garters. They wore cloaks held in place by brooches. Saxon women wore a long linen garment with a long tunic over it. They also wore mantles.

Clothes in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages men wore tunics. Some men wore shorts and all wore 'hose' (tights or stockings).

Women wore a nightie-like linen garment. However they did not wear knickers. They wore a long tunic (to their ankles) and over it another garment, a gown. Women held their dresses with a belt tied around their waists.

In the Middle Ages both sexes wore wool but it varied in quality. It could be fine and expensive or coarse and cheap. From the mid-14th century laws lay down which materials the different classes could wear, to stop the middle classes dressing 'above themselves'. (Poor people could not afford to wear expensive cloth anyway!). However most people ignored the law and wore what they wished.

In the late 14th and 15th centuries clothes became much more elaborate. Fashion in the modern sense began. For the wealthy styles changed rapidly. Women wore elaborate hats and men wore long shoes.

Poor people wore practical clothes. If it was wet and muddy they wore wooden clogs.



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