Ancient Greek clothing – what people wore in ancient Greece

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Small bronze figure of a baby wearing only a diaper - Ancient Greek clothing

Ancient Greek clothing: a Greek baby in a diaper, from Hellenistic Egypt

Like Egyptian or Mesopotamian babies, 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 wrap skirts or shorts.

marble statue of a man in a tunic carrying a basket - Ancient Greek clothing

A working man’s tunic (see the basket he is carrying?)

Greek men mostly wore a tunic, a sort of knee-length t-shirt made of wool or linen, tied with a belt at the waist. Men used the fold of cloth over their belt as a pocket. Often, as in this statuette, they wore their tunic only over one shoulder, as a himation.

Boy in Macedonian hat, cape, and boots - Ancient Greek clothing

Boy in Macedonian hat, cape, and boots (ca. 300 BC)

Over the tunic men wore a wool cloak if it was cold out. They could also use their cloak as a blanket if they needed to (for example if they were off somewhere fighting a war). Men’s legs were bare, and they wore leather sandals when they weren’t barefoot. But many men went barefoot their whole lives.

statuette of a woman wearing a long tunic and a cap holding a baby in a tunic

Aphrodite and Eros

Greek women, like women in Iran or India at this time, generally 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 came down to their ankles, even for younger girls.

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

Girl wearing a long dress wrapped around her - Ancient Greek clothing

Ancient Greek clothing: a girl wearing a tunic and a wrap over it

This woman is so busy talking that she doesn't notice the water isn't going into her pot!

Women getting water at the public fountain.

Even when it wasn’t cold, most Greek women who weren’t slaves wore a shawl or a veil over their dress whenever they left the house. Some women wore their veil loose, and some used it to cover their hair, or their face. Women who were enslaved had to wear their hair cut short, while free women had long, complicated hairstyles.

But for running, hunting, or working, Greek women could also wear short tunics like the ones men wore, as this Spartan girl does to run.

Did you find out what you wanted to know about ancient Greek clothing? Let us know in the comments!

Learn by doing: dress up like a person from ancient Greece
More about linen cloth
More about wool cloth

Bibliography and further reading about ancient Greek clothing:

More about Spinning
Dressing up like the Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Quatr.us home

By |2018-05-19T22:34:08+00:00July 5th, 2017|Clothing, Greeks|16 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Ancient Greek clothing – what people wore in ancient Greece. Quatr.us Study Guides, July 5, 2017. Web. August 19, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

16 Comments

  1. Love it! May 19, 2018 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    What did the rich, upper-class wear? Did they wear sashes and togas? Also, what did normal Athenians clothing like?

    • Karen Carr May 19, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Rich Athenians and Spartans still wore tunics; togas were something Romans wore, not Greeks. Sashes weren’t a thing either. Men wore tunics belted at the waist. Women wore cloth pinned into the shape of a dress, rather like an Indian sari today. Rich people wore clothes in nicer fabrics, with more expensive dyes and more patterns woven into them. Sometimes rich women wore several tunics, one on top of another, under their dress. Both men and women wore warm wool cloaks over their clothes if it was cold, which might also serve as blankets.

  2. Herro May 18, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    This was helpful for my grade 6 social project but what did the slaves and metics where?

    • Karen Carr May 18, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Most slaves wore a plain linen or wool tunic. Sometimes they wore old worn-out clothing that had belonged to their owners. If they were working outside or in a mine, they just wore a long cloth wound around their middle like shorts. Metics wore whatever they could afford – rich metics in Athens dressed like other Athenians.

  3. zay May 9, 2018 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    um did you put in the spartans armro?

  4. zay May 9, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    hey do you know when you made the website?

    • Karen Carr May 9, 2018 at 10:27 pm

      The date for each article is in the citation info just below the article (and above this comment section). We’ve been writing articles for more than 20 years, so each article has its own date.

  5. Charles May 9, 2018 at 11:09 am - Reply

    How was Homer dressed? I mean like was he dressed as a regular person in ancient Greece or was he dressed different. I am also in 6th grade and doing a report on Homer.

    • Karen Carr May 9, 2018 at 11:15 am

      We don’t really know anything at all about Homer other than his name and that he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. Some people say he was blind. But he was probably a pretty well-off person, or he wouldn’t have had the education to know how to write poetry. He probably dressed like a regular well-off man, with a wool tunic and a beard and leather sandals. His tunic might have been dyed in stripes or patterns, and to show his money it might have been red (a more expensive color). To show he was a great poet, he might have worn a laurel wreath, which was the prize for winning competitions. I hope that helps!

  6. Chloee April 9, 2018 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    im in 6th grade and I’m doing a project and this is totally going to help thanks😄😄😄😄

    • Karen Carr April 9, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      I’m delighted to hear it, Chloee! Good luck with your project.

  7. me March 12, 2018 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Yes, exactly what i needed thanks very much 🙂

    • Karen Carr March 12, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Wonderful!

  8. me March 11, 2018 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    I’m doing a project on this and have found this information really helpful. However i’d like to know the significance of clothing in their culture.

    • Karen Carr March 11, 2018 at 11:48 pm

      Well, in ancient Greece as in all cultures people use clothing to show who they are: rich or poor, what city they are from, whether they identify as men or women, slave or free, young or old. But also, many cities in Greece exported a lot of wool and linen cloth, so clothing was also important to their economy. Does that help?

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