Fashion Stories in Ancient Greece - Your visual diary to My Fashion Stories Box Podcast
Hi there fashion, stories and fashion history lovers! Welcome to My Fashion Stories Box Podcast Visual Diary!
Our today’s visual diary will be dedicated to Ancient Greece. If you didn’t listen to the podcast dedicated to Ancient Greece yet, head there now! You will meet our heroes Leonidas and Calliope living in the glorious city of Athens.
The historical context
Ancient Greece… This powerful Antique civilisation which gave so much foundations to our modern society… Just think about philosophy, democracy principles, the Odyssey… And also the Olympic Games, the beautiful temples, the athletic statues, the pottery…
I think that at this point the names of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Homer, Ulysse or Alexander the Great came to your mind.
The Ancient Greece society wasn’t created around a notion of countries. The society was made of independent state-cities which shared the same language, culture and, most importantly, mythology.
The most powerful state-city was Athens but you had also Sparta, Thebes, Rhodes, Argos…
These cities could fight each other. And, a way to prevent these wars, was the creation of the Olympic Games. Each city would send their best sportsmen to compete in different competitions, the winner being rewarded with a leaves crown… As in our modern Olympic Games. Sports at the service of peace and federating people… Sport was also there to promote a certain way of life and physical aesthetics. I guess you have all seen Ancient Greek statues or pottery: men there are usually represented with an athletic figure. Thus was the ideal for Ancient Greeks.
The society itself was composed of two layers: the free people and the slaves. And, among the free people, obviously, men were the rules. Women were thought to have an intellect at the same level as the children’s. No way to give them some political importance. Unfortunately, this is something we are still fighting for: more women in traditional men’s sectors…
Men would gather at the Agora, the city center and the heart of the political and economical life, to discuss politics, philosophy, trades…
Ancient Greeks also liked to spend good time. They will go to see plays and concerts in the amphitheatres.
Another important aspect of Ancient Greece’s life: the Gods. Ancient Greeks were firm believers and their Gods were all numerous and powerful, ruling each aspect of their lives.
The main Gods from the Ancient Greek pantheon were the Olympians, residing on Mount Olympus. These gods were deciding the fate of human beings. They were completed with minor gods and goddesses, nymphs and the remains of the Titans.
Should you be interested in Ancient Greek mythology, I have a wonderful podcast for you.
Ancient Greeks were so worried about what Gods had in store for them or how not to upset them, that they would go praying in their dedicated temples, offering some sacrifices or going to see the powerful Oracle of Apollo, the Pythia of Delphi. A place where our podcast’s heroe, Leonidas, will go to ask the God Apollo about his feelings for Calliope.
Let me introduce you to the Olympian Gods, the all powerful Gods of the Antique world.
Zeus, the god in chief,
Hera, his wife-sister, goddess of marriage, women, childbirth and family,
Poseidon, God of the seas, waters, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes and horses,
Demeter, Goddess of the harvest, fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons,
Athena, Goddess of wisdom, handicraft and warfare,
Apollo, God of light, the sun, prophecy, philosophy, archery, truth, inspiration, poetry, music, arts, manly beauty, medicine, healing and plague,
Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, virginity, the moon, archery, childbirth, protection and plague. She is Apollo’s sister.
Ares, God of war, violence, bloodshed, and manly virtues,
Hephaestus, God of the forge, craftmanship, invention, fire and volcanoes,
Aphrodite, Goddess of love, pleasure, passion, procreation, fertility, beauty and desire,
Hermes, the messenger of the gods, god of travels, commerce, communication, borders, eloquence, diplomacy, thieves and games and the guide of the dead souls to the underworld.
To these main gods and goddesses, we can add two others who also play an important role in the Ancient Greece mythology:
Hestia, goddess of the hearth, fire and of the right ordering of domesticity and family
Dionysus, god of wine, grape vine, fertility, festivity, ecstasy, madness and resurrection.
Our podcast story in fashion history takes place in Athens, the city of the goddess Athena. I am always curious to imagine how now historical sites would have looked like in the past, during their golden age. And I like looking at historical reconstructions.
Here is some pictures from a video game (Athens Creed by Ubisoft) taking place in Ancient Greece to give you, too, an idea how Athens would have looked like.
This is where our heroes, Leonidas and Calliope, will evolve and meet.
As for many antique civilisations, the way people would dress, depended on their social status and wealth. No tailoring was done at that time. It would be a piece of fabrics skillfully wrapped around the body to create all these beautiful pleated and draping effects we can see on statues.
For Ancient Greeks, the basis of their outfit was a tunic like garment, the length and fabrics used depending on the gender and occupation of the wearer. Let’s explore together how it looked like.
Menswear fashion in Ancient Greece
Our young heroes Leonidas would wear two outfits in our podcast on stories in fashion history during the Ancient Greece.
The first one, when he decided to go to Delphi and ask some questions about his future to the Oracle, was a more travel outfit.
The tunic he wore was the chiton, this tunic like garment.
Chitons could be short or long. It was a rectangular piece of fabrics fastened at the shoulders’ level with a pin, named fibula, and tightened at the waist level with a belt.
You could decide to fasten your chiton just on one shoulder, usually the left one. In that case, the chiton would be named exomie.
This was the type of chiton Leonidas and his father were wearing in our podcast when they visited Calliope’s father.
Fabrics used could be linen, usually in white colors, but dyed versions existed.
On the top of the tunic, or chiton, men could wear another rectangular piece of fabrics which would play the role of cloak. The garment obtained was named himation.
Generally made of wool, the himation was wrapped around the body over the chiton to protect the wearer from bad weather.
Generally long, a shorter version of the himation, the chlamys, also existed, usually worn by young men.
The himation and chlamys existed in white and dyed colors.
Ancient Greeks liked to dye their fabrics using plants, earth or stones.
Womenswear fashion in Ancient Greece
And what about Calliope?
Her basis outfit would follow the same principle as the chiton for Leonidas. A rectangular piece of fabrics wrapped around the body to create a tunic garment, named peplos. Only, this tunic would be longer for her. Indeed, in Ancient Greece, a decent woman couldn’t show parts of her body. And the peplos was there to cover as much flesh as possible.
The peplos was wrapped around the body, fastened at the shoulders with a fibula or with brooches, and belts would be used to create the folding and draping effects you can see on statues and pottery. Depending on the fashion of the time, you could also have a belt construction at the breast level. The draping also could change depending on the trends.
Peplos were usually white, but dyed versions existed and, for wealthy women, you could have threats of gold or embellished with embroidery.
As for men, women had an equivalent for coat, a long rectangular piece of wool fabrics named epiblema, they would also wrap their bodies in to protect themselves from bad weather conditions.
Jewelry fashion in Ancient Greece
Jewelry in Ancient Greece was quite minimalist if we compare with Ancient Egyptian fashion for example.
Ancient Greeks would wear jewelry and accessories made of gold, silver and stones. And the main jewelry pieces were the fibula (the pin used to fasten the chiton and peplos at the shoulders), necklaces, bracelets, arm cuffs and earrings.
Leaves were a favorite pattern for jewelry, as well as beads forms and animals forms as snakes.
Hair fashion in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greeks liked to have their hairs natural and curly.
Adult men would generally wear their hairs long and have a beard.
For hot summer days, when needing to go outside, men would wear a sort of hat, the petasos, to protect them from the sun.
Women would style their hairs in breads and curls in buns or in sophisticated layered compositions.
They would accessory their hairs with ornaments in gold, silver, as crowns, diadems, with beads and stones or with headbands in leather with flowers.
Women could also wear a light veil on the top of their hairstyle.
Footwear fashion in Ancient Greece
Footwear in Ancient Greece were quite basic, being the sandals worn by everybody, or the half boots with open toes, mostly worn by soldiers.
They were made of leather, cords and straps.
Modern designers inspired by Ancient Greece
It can be sometimes tricky to tell apart what has been inspired by Ancient Greece and what has been inspired by Ancient Rome, the latter having heavily been influenced (copying?) by Ancient Greek outfit, way of life and mythology, just changing the names…
However, here is a list of some modern designers who said they’ve been inspired by Ancient Greece. Let’s dive into the refined elegance of Ancient Greece...
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior Spring Summer 2020 collection
Gucci pre fall 2019 collection “Divine Bohemians”
Dolce & Gabanna “Alta Moda” and “Alta Sartoria” collections in 2019
Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Cruise 2018 “Modernity of Antiquity” collection
Spring/Summer 2020 collection:
Spring/Summer 2017 collection:
What do you think of these modern interpretations of Ancient Greece style? Do you know other designers being inspired by this civilisation? Feel free to share your findings with me :)
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that you learnt many things about Ancient Greeks and their outfits.
Now you are ready to spot any Ancient Greek references in your favorite designers’ collections!
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