What did people wear in Ancient Egypt?

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Ancient Egyptian Clothing

rahotep and nefret
Rahotep and Nefret

Unlike most of the people of the ancient Mediterranean, people in ancient Egypt did not wear just one or two big pieces of cloth wrapped around themselves in various ways. Instead, both men and women in Egypt wore tunics which were sewn to fit them. These tunics were like a long T-shirt which reached to the knees (for men) or to the ankles (for women).

Egyptian tunics were usually made of linen and were nearly always white. Most people in ancient Egypt, both men and women, do not seem to have covered their heads with any kind of cloth. They often went barefoot, but sometimes they wore straw or leather sandals.

egyptian peasants

Men who were working outside usually wore short skirts instead of tunics, which may have been made as in West Asia by winding a piece of linen cloth around your waist and legs.

skull with black hair extensions
Woman from near Amarna with
about 70 hair extensions (ca. 1300 BC)
close-up of hair extensions
A close-up of the extensions

Both men and women wore blue and green eyeshadow and black kohl eyeliner, when they were dressed up fancy. People also wore black kohl around their eyes because it helped to keep the glare of sunlight down (which is why football players do the same thing today). Men wore their hair short, and shaved their beards and mustaches, while women wore their hair down to their shoulders, often with extensions. Both men and women wore gold jewelry if they could afford to.

More on how to make an Egyptian costume
More about Egyptian shoes

Bibliography and further reading about ancient Egyptian clothing:

Eyewitness: Ancient Egypt, by George Hart. For kids.

Ancient Egyptian Fashions, by Tom Tierney (1999). For kids.

Ancient Egyptian Costumes Paper Dolls, by Tom Tierney (1997).

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.

Egyptian Shoes
More about ancient Egypt
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Copyright 2012-2015 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated September 2015.

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