Ancient Egypt and Clothing – What Clothes were Worn by the Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egypt, a civilization that flourished along the Nile River for thousands of years, had a distinctive and fascinating clothing culture. The clothing worn by the ancient Egyptians was not only functional but also symbolic, reflecting their social status, religious beliefs, and cultural identity. In this article, we will explore the clothing of ancient Egypt, its styles, materials, and its significance in the lives of its people.

Ancient Egyptian clothing was made from natural materials, predominantly linen. Linen was produced from the flax plant, which grew abundantly along the banks of the Nile. It was a lightweight and breathable fabric, ideal for the hot climate of Egypt. Linen garments were typically white or off-white in color, although dyes were occasionally used to add decorative elements.

The attire of ancient Egyptians varied depending on the individual’s social status, occupation, and gender. The basic clothing consisted of a loincloth or skirt-like garment called a shendyt for men, and a simple sheath dress called a kalasiris for women. The kalasiris was a sleeveless dress that fell to the ankles, often with straps or shoulder straps for support. Women’s clothing also included a variety of shawls, capes, and cloaks for modesty and protection from the sun.

The style and complexity of clothing evolved with social status. The higher social classes, such as nobles and royalty, wore more elaborate garments with pleats, folds, and decorative embellishments. They also had access to finer materials, including imported fabrics and precious metals.

Ancient Egyptian fashion

Accessories played an important role in ancient Egyptian fashion. Both men and women adorned themselves with jewelry, such as necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and rings. Jewelry was not only a fashion statement but also had symbolic and protective meanings. Common materials for jewelry included gold, silver, precious stones, and faience, a type of glazed ceramic.

Headwear was another prominent aspect of ancient Egyptian clothing. Men often wore a headcloth or a crown-like headdress known as the nemes. The nemes featured distinctive striped patterns and was associated with pharaohs. Women wore various types of headdresses, such as the vulture headdress or the tripartite wig, which was a wig with three sections of hair.

The symbolism of clothing in ancient Egypt extended beyond fashion. It played a significant role in religious and funerary practices. For example, priests and priestesses wore specific garments that denoted their religious status and roles. In funerary customs, mummification involved wrapping the deceased in linen bandages, which symbolized rebirth and protection in the afterlife.

The art and depictions found in ancient Egyptian tombs and temples provide valuable insights into the clothing of the time. Detailed wall paintings and carvings depict the various styles, drapery, and colors of ancient Egyptian garments. These visual representations have helped archaeologists and historians understand the nuances of ancient Egyptian fashion.

Today, ancient Egyptian clothing continues to inspire and influence modern fashion and design. Its timeless elegance, clean lines, and symbolic elements have found their way into contemporary fashion collections and runway shows. The fascination with ancient Egyptian clothing reflects the enduring allure of this remarkable civilization and its cultural legacy.

The clothing of ancient Egypt was more than just garments; it was a reflection of social status, religious beliefs, and cultural identity. From the simple loincloths and kalasiris to the elaborate garments of the nobility, ancient Egyptian clothing showcased the creativity, practicality, and symbolism of this remarkable civilization. By studying and appreciating ancient Egyptian clothing, we gain a deeper understanding of their society, values, and contributions to the world of fashion and style.

Wikipedia: Ancient Egypt
History Channel: Ancient Egypt
Live Science: Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt for Kids
British Museum: Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt