Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome

Ancient Greek dress was more voluminous than that of the Egyptians, and was most often made of fine woollens, although it is thought that the Greeks also had regular access to linen, hemp cloth and silk. The primary garment of Ancient Greek clothing was the chiton, an all-over body garment made from a large rectangle of cloth wrapped once around the body from right side to right side. This garment was then pinned at the shoulders and tied at the waist or hips, and draped in hanging folds about the body. Young men generally wore short chitons, and older men and women longer ones. Older men also often are depicted wearing long draped mantles either alone or over a chiton . A smaller rectangle worn over one shoulder by travellers and young men was called a chalmys.

Women's Chitons were draped in a variety of ways, and were also worn with mantles. Greek fabric was far more elaborate than the Egyptians, and included complex border designs both woven in and embroidered. Greek jewellery, although less prominent than Egyptian jewellery, was exceedingly complex and finely made.

Like Egyptian dress, Greek clothing was centred in an aesthetic that idealized the human body, rather than attempting to conceal its natural shape. The Greeks made many clothing decisions based on this aesthetic that were less than practical choices: Pinning garments closed instead of stitching, rarely wearing sandals or shoes despite a rocky landscape, draping garments around the body for warmth during cold instead of making garments with sleeves or trousers. The Greeks definitely knew how to make sleeves, for their theatrical costumes had them, but for normal wear sleeves were judged less aesthetic than bare arms and so were not worn.

Roman dress at first glance appears to be identical to Greek dress in its draperies and design. Closer inspection, however, reveals many important changes. First, the basic garments are sewn, not pinned, and close on both sides. Second, elaborate fabric decoration nearly disappears, and bold patterns on garments are nonexistent. Sandals, boots and shoes are common, virtually all men wear them, and many women. Romans were the kind of practical, upright, uptight folks who believed in civil service, interstate highways, and customs duties. Their clothing included the tunica, the stola (the female version of the same thing), the toga (an extra long half-circle wool mantle worn by male citizens) and the palla, a large, long (8 yard) drape or scarf worn by women outdoors.

Late Roman and "Byzantine" dress is more body covering than earlier Roman costume, usually including long sleeves and long hems. This is generally assumed to be a reaction to the growing Christian view that the body was not beautiful, but a pit of vice. When the tunica is shorter (only on men) the lower limbs are encased in trousers, a "barbarian" invention first adopted by the Roman army and lower classes, and eventually (after some aristocratic resistance) by all men. The toga remained for emperors and other high officials in this period, but in vestigial form as a long thin (about 6") strip wrapped round the torso in the traditional manner.

Long half circle capes were part of male court dress, worn in place of the old toga over the new long sleeved tunica. The most notable feature of the Eastern Empire's dress is it's surface decoration. Unlike the earlier period which left fabric largely undecorated, the people of the Byzantine/Romanian Empire used all manner of woven, embroidered and beaded surface embellishment, particularly on Church vestments and court dress. This style of decoration and many of the garment shapes have survived to this day in the priestly vestments of Orthodox churches in Greece, Eastern Europe and Russia.

Few records have survived of dress in the Dark Ages period, although there is some rather spectacular jewellery in the style commonly called Celtic which has mainly been found in archaeological sites in the British Isles and the Nordic countries. Like the Eastern Empire the dress of Western Europe seems to have consisted of the long sleeved tunic, half circle capes, & trousers. Western men are more often depicted in the short tunic and trouser combination than in long tunics. Shoes and boots were also worn in place of sandals.

It has been suggested that the reason that clothing became longer, heavier and more fitted in this era is that the world weather pattern shifted at that time to make Europe the much colder continent it is now. (In Roman times the weather was so warm in Northern Europe that they had successful vineyards in England, far north of where it is possible to grow them now).

Another clothing variation popular in Europe was the wearing of a short tunic over a longer fuller one. This was done by persons of both sexes. The over tunic was often heavily embroidered in a manner similar to the Byzantine style.

Women's dress was often similar to the style mentioned above, or simply consisted of a long tunic with a tighter fitting sleeved one beneath. Married women, with the exception of queens, generally veiled their hair, but this was not a hard and fast rule.

Fabric production also became much easier through the invention of two labour-saving devices: The spinning wheel and the horizontal loom which increased both fabric quality and production nearly tenfold.

Customs and Traditions

Different countries have different customs and different sets of beliefs. We have grouped the following countries into regions to illustrate to you how the different customs and traditions of some countries affect the type of clothes people wear.

Portugal: Their traditional clothing consists of berets, stocking caps, baggy shirts and trousers for the men. Women wear long dresses and shawls. In other places the people dress entirely in black or another dark colour for their daily activities, but they put on colourful garments on special occasions.

Scotland: The people from the highlands of Scotland wear kilts. It is a knee-length, skirt-like garment that is pleated at the back, but has a plain front. These kilts are made of tartan, a checked cloth. The design of the kilt is usually associated with a particular Scottish clan.

Ireland: The Irish wear kilts of saffron colour, which are made of fine-spun woollen cloth and a sporran (an ornamental pouch) is worn in front of the kilt. The kilt is usually worn with nothing underneath.

China: The Chinese believe that dark-coloured clothing bring bad luck and should be avoided while wearing brighter-coloured clothes, especially red is auspicious as it is believed that red can bring good luck and prosperity.

India: Women: Most Indian women wear saris. This is a garment consisting of a 6-meter long piece of cloth, which is draped around the body as a long dress. The loose end of the cloth is flung over the shoulder or used to cover the head of the woman wearing it.

The sari is usually worn with a blouse. Most unmarried women and young girls in Northern India usually wear long flowing trousers called a shalwar and a long blouse called kameez. The tribal women wear long skirts.

Most Indian men wear a dhoti. This is usually white in colour and is wrapped around the legs forming loose trousers. This can also be wrapped around the lower part of the body forming a skirt and is fastened at the waist. The poor labourers wear loincloth, a piece of cloth wrapped around the hips between the thighs. In cities, western dressing is increasing in popularity.

Malaysia: The traditional wear of Malay women and men in Malaysia is a colourful skirt called a sarong or a kain. The sarong is a long strip of cloth wrapped around the body, while a kain is similar, except it has its ends sewn together. The man usually wears a shirt with a sarong wrapped around his waist.

The woman wears a long-sleeved blouse with a sarong or a kain. The man also wears a special cap for religious purposes and the woman wears a shawl over her shoulders or on her head. They cover their heads so as not to show their hair. This is to prevent the men from treating them as sex objects, and also because their God has told them to do so.

Japan: On special occasions, such as weddings and funerals, the Japanese women wear traditional clothing called a kimono. The kimono is tied around the waist with a sash called obi and worn with zori, or sandals.

Vietnam: In the Northern cities, both men and women wear plain black trousers accompanied with tightly buttoned white or dark-coloured jackets. The people there wear sandals made from tires of worn-out automobile. The dressing in the northern cities is similar to that of the southern cities.

Many women wear the traditional Vietnamese ao dai, which is a long coat-like garment worn over trousers. In rural areas, the women wear loose-fitting shirts and skirts and the men wear coat-like garments that extend to the knees.

Mexico: The men wear cotton shirts and trousers. They also wear leather sandals known as huaraches. Sombreros protect Mexican men from the hot sun. Sombreros are wide-brimmed felt or straw hats. They wear ponchos when it is cold or when it rains. The women wear blouses with long, full skirts. They also wear plastic sandals. The women cover their heads with rebozos (fringed shawls).

Brazil: In Southern Brazil, the cowboys (gauchos) wear baggy trousers called bombachas, and also wide-brimmed felt hats.

Bolivia: The men wear striped ponchos and colourful shawls. The women wear full skirts. They also wear derby hats.

Egypt: The Fellahin men (fellahin means peasant) wear pants and long, full shirt-like garments called a galabiyah; whereas the women wear long flowing gowns either in dark or bright colours.

North Africa: In Northern Africa, the men wear long, loose robes. Many men also wear turbans or skullcaps. The women folk wear long, simple dresses, at times with baggy trousers underneath. The women also wear a dark coloured cloak or shawl in public, while some follow the Islamic tradition of covering their faces with veils. However, people in the cities dress in western-styled clothing.


Purposes of Clothes

Clothes play an important life in the lives of many people. It is very important because it can change a person's look. It also may hide some faults of the figure as well as may make the negative or positive impression on others. But why do people need clothes? Of course everybody can name at least 3 purposes.

The main purpose why people started to make clothes was the necessity to protect them from cold and hot weather as well as from other climate factors as snow, wind, rain etc. The ancestor of clothes was the fell of animals and people used it to get warm and to protect their bodies. At first it was awfully worked up, but people improved their abilities and clothes have become masterpiece. Nowadays we protect ourselves from cold using sweaters, jackets and fur coats that are so well made that you don't want to put it off. And fashion gives us more and more new coats to choose. So if you follow fashion you have to earn much money because well done fashionable clothes cost a lot.

Another purpose is not to be naked. Shyness and shame are two qualities that made a person put on the clothes. At first they tried to cover their body with leaves then they started to use the fell of animals. The invention of clothes has made new step in the religious and social views of a person

Another purpose is fashion. Clothes make people stylish and beautiful. People dress them because it is in fashion and it can change some faults of figure. It may give additional beauty to your face and body.

Hygiene is another purpose of clothes, especially of the underwear. It protects you from the viruses and the dirt.

Besides, clothes give additional functions such as pockets where you can put something and keep something.

Clothes are the integral part of our life. We have to use it because nature didn't give us the natural skin for protection from cold. So, to be healthy and wealthy we simply need it.


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