Ancient Greek costumes summon to mind a culture of eminent thinkers and philosophers that once hosted the cradle of civilization. The influence of Greek culture can be seen and felt in the cultures of every nation since.
Ancient Greek Costumes
Ancient Greek costumes are based on pictorial evidence of Grecian clothing and dress illustrated on pots, statue and vases found throughout the archaeological record. Greek costumes are uncomplicated basic shapes relying on draped fabric, girdles, brooches, clasps, belts and pins to create the shape.
For the most part, choosing Ancient Greek for a costume theme allows you to pin and tuck your dress into a shape of artfully arranged fabric. The trick to making your costume a Greek dress rather than just a toga is the use of embroidered patterns on the edges of the fabric such as checkered patterns or floral motifs or a key pattern. These embellishments, however, are strictly for the borders.
The complexity of the Greek costume is creating the right folds and pleats with your pins, clasps and girdles so that the dress drapes, gapes and falls in an artful fashion. For women, this includes the ruffled bust and the drape that falls off the shoulder.
Men and Women
The chiton as this costume is referred to, was suitable for both males and females. The women typically wore a floor length Chiton cut at least 12 inches longer than their own height to help with the draping. By contrast, men wore a knee length variety to keep their legs free to move. The chiton is typically pinned on the left shoulder, leaving the right one free. However, women may choose to pin both shoulders to create the Doric folds across their chest.
Wool was the popular choice for the early chiton, although as trade opened up with other parts of the world linen and silk became popular alternatives. For the average college student or costume party, bed linens are easily transformable into a Greek period costume. To create more flexible pleats, you will require a more flexible fabric such as muslin or even a diaphanous material to create the sophisticated but ethereal look associated with Greek gods and goddesses.
For the most part, fabrics were white or natural colored although there is some evidence that women in particular favored yellow, purple, blue, green and red in their dresses. The dying of fabric was often left to the wealthier and more affluent.
Accessories for your Greek costume may be as simple as a brooch or decorative pin used on the chiton or as elaborate as silver bands wrapped around the upper arm and wristbands of hammered metal. Necklaces were often choker style and there is no extensive evidence of earrings, but modern sensibilities say to match the rest of your jewelry choices.A laurel may be worn, either of simple fig leaves or with flowers to decorate the hair. In addition, women are more likely to wear their hair up with a fabric ribbon similar in style to the trim on their chiton. Braiding silver or gold thread through the hair is another popular style. In cooler weather, you can add a scarf or a light cloak in matching fabric to complete the effect.
The average Greek traveled barefoot, but the wealthy wore sandals. Simple rope sandals or gilded sandals will increase the delicate appearance of the foot, adding to the ancient feel of the clothing.
The Spartan or Athenian Warrior
For men looking to butch up their Greek costume, the warrior look never goes out of style. Ancient Greeks dressed in battle tunics of leather, leg greaves, and helmets with a stiff crest of horsehair. Adding some metal plating to the chest piece reinforces it for battle. A short sword hung about the waist and a shield will complete the effect. Remember, even in battle, Greeks still wore sandals, relying on their leathers to protect the rest of their bodies.