Welcome to Sara’s Costume Corner

Actors holding their masks at a victory celebration; Pronomos Vase, 4th cent BCE

Note: The quotes are taken from Survey of Historic Costume – 5th Edition, by Phyllis G. Tortora (Bloomsbury Academic: 2009; ISBN-13: 9781563678066). Pictures and ideas for the character costumes are from various sources.

Greece’s Classical Age (5th-4th centuries BCE)

1920px-Parc_de_Versailles,_demi-lune_du_bassin_d'Apollon,_Ino_et_Melicerte,_Pierre_Granier_04“In the Classical Age, c. 500 – 323 B.C., Greece enjoyed a golden age, one of the most creative eras in the history of Western civilization. Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle pondered the nature of the universe, the meaning of life, and ethical values. Tragic dramatists such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote dramas for the public dealing with the nature and fate of man.

By the Classical Age, a period for which written and art records abound, Greek communities have grown into city-states, and had developed a far more sophisticated and urban organization. A quite detailed picture of daily life n ancient Greece can be painted. Athens, the most famous city-state in Greece, was composed of a population of adult men (the active citizens), their dependent women and children, resident foreigners, and slaves. When not engaged in work, a man might attend the assembly of the law courts.

Sheepherding was practiced in the mountainous Greek peninsula, and from those sheep wool for weaving was obtained. The Greeks also used linen, particularly after the 6th century B.C. Most of the linen used in Greece was imported from the Middle East and Egypt.

The visual evidence for Greek styles often comes from marble statues that have been bleached white over the centuries or from vase paintings that do not show color. As a result it is often mistakenly assumed that Greek clothing had little color. Fabrics were colored with dyes obtained from plants, minerals, and shellfish. Decoration of fabrics during weaving or by embroidery was common. Greek women were gifted weavers, and they were talented in embroidery.

Skill was developed in pleating fabrics, and some sort of clothes press existed for smoothing and flattening fabrics and pressing in pleats. Fabrics were bleached with the fumes of a sulfur compound. Because Greek costume was draped, not cut and sewn, the fabric was probably woven to the correct size and did not require cutting”.

THE COSTUMESmaenad - stone relief

The Bacchae by Euripides premiered in Athens in 405 BC, after its playwright’s death the year before. The Doric chiton was a popular costume of the time. For men, the chiton was short, narrower than Ionic, without sleeves, fastened with one brooch (fibula) at shoulders. For women, it was long. The fabric was wool, linen, or silk. The Ionic chitons were less common, and were worn short or long, and when long, to the ground. Full, longer sleeves, fastened with many small brooches at shoulders. Lightweight wool or pleated linen. It is believed that the luxurious fabrics and elaborate draperies of the full Ionic chiton had offered many opportunities for the display of a man’s wealth.

Doric chiton

Chiton – A tunic. Later versions were not necessarily sewn, but often were created by taking a single rectangle of fabric and wrapping around the body, securing it at the shoulders with one or more pins.making a chiton

Ionic chiton

Himation – A large rectangle of fabric that was wrapped around the body. The most common way of wearing it seems to have been with the bulk of the fabric wrapped across the back, passed under the right arm, and draped over the left shoulder or carried across the left arm. Both men and women wore this garment over a chiton.himation - woman

Diplax – Small rectangle of fabric worn by women, especially over Ionic chiton

Chlamydon – More complicated form of woman’s diplax in which fabric was pleated into a fabric band

Chlamys – A rectangular cloak of leather or wool pinned over the right of left shoulder. Worn by men over a chiton, especially for traveling, it could be used as a blanket for sleeping at night.

Man wearing pilos – red figure Greek vase

Pilos – A narrow-brimmed or brimless hat with a pointed crown worn by both men and women

Men’s Hair and Headdress – In Classical Period, young men wore short hair and no beards and older men longer hair and beards.

god Hermes wearing a chlamys (chlamydon) and traveling cap (petasos)

Petasos – Wide brimmed hat worn with chlamys

Attis wearing a Phrygian cap (“bonnet”)

Phrygian Caps (“Bonnets”) – Brimless caps with a high padded peak that fell forward

Women’s Hair and Headdress – In the Classical Period, hair was pulled into a knot or chignon at the back of the head. Fillets, scarves, ribbons, and caps were used to confine the hair. Paintings and sculpture of women depict veils that were own over the head and are sometimes shown pulled across the face.


Footwear – Both men and women wore sandals. Men also wore fitted shoes, ankle high or high mid-calf length; or, for travel or warfare, leather boots that laced up the front.

Jewelry – More often worn by women than men, jewelry consisted of necklaces, earrings, rings, decorative pins for fastening the chiton, and brooches.

Cosmetics – Writings of the period record the use of perfumes, not much information about cosmetics.

Military – Varied from one city-state to another, however generally was some form of protective clothing worn over a tunic. In Classical Period, chlamys-style cloaks were worn. Helmets had pieces that covered cheekbones, nose, jaws, and neck. Men went either barefoot or with high boots.

Greaves – Shaped leather or metal protectors for the lower legs

Cuirass – Metal belt


DIONYSOS – A young god; long-haired, effeminate and frighteningly attractive; uncanny, and given to irony and mystery; god of wine, theater, madness. A “friend to humanity” (bringing wine) and also deadly to humans (bringing wine-induced madness); aka Bromius, Evvius, Iacchos, Bacchus.

  • Black, wine, brown, olive, gold. Doric chiton splashed with color or decorations and made of luxurious fabric, extravagant fibula (pin to hold chiton together). Color is important to show status. An elaborate headpiece to show class, sandals, some jewelry.


Bildschirmfoto 2015-02-21 um 11.42.12 AM Bildschirmfoto 2015-02-21 um 11.42.26 AM


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