Herewith, so I can stop typing the same thing over and over, is how to Dress Like A Greek. This should help next time you're going to a
To make a basic chiton:
- Stand and hold your arms outstretched to the sides.
- Have a friend measure you from wrist to wrist, and shoulder to ankles.
- Cut two sheets of linen. Bedsheets are a traditional source.
- Dye the two sheets in bright colours. You can go to town on this. Greek clothing was as colourful as they could make it. Typically there'd be a border and within that, some sort of symmetrical pattern.
- Sew the sheets together down the right hand side, leaving a space for the arms.
- You're done with the manufacturing. Wasn't that simple!
- Put your right arm through the gap you left in the sewn side. Use pins — fibulae — to attach the front and back at both shoulders. Ancient Greek fibulae were ornate, silver affairs. Large broaches are a decent modern equivalent.
- Pin the left side.
- Tie a belt rope around the waist. This can afford to be tight because, as you're probably noticing by now, there is a lot of extra material.
- The Greeks didn't have bras, I'm devastated to report. Tie a rope beneath the relevant bits and then across the chest in a cross and over the shoulders where it can be tied at the back. With all that extra material up top you can get a similar effect. Greeks liked to thread colourful strands into the belt and chest ropes to make them pretty.
|The woman on the right wears a chiton.|
The young lady on the left wears a chitoniskos.
The chiton was the standard dress for all women and upper class men. The chiton + himation combo was the ancient equivalent of a suit and tie. It was probably about as practical too.
Diotima is a lady of perfect modesty. She always wears a chiton. She has a collection of silver earrings, necklaces and bracelets that display her exquisite taste. When she has to shoot her bow, she pulls the right sleeve up to her shoulder and hooks it over one of the fibulae. Her target is unlikely to live long enough to be offended by the fashion crime.
I should emphasize that, as with modern clothing, there appears to have been considerable variation in the designs. I should also emphasize that there isn't a single surviving example of a real classical Greek chiton, so everyone's staring at the same vase pictures to guess how they were made.
A chitoniskos is a little chiton. Boys often wore daddy's old, cast-off chiton, cut down to size. Take the chiton you've just made, cut it so it ends above the knees. and cut the sides until it's slightly too large for the target child (these kids tend to grow). Socrates wears a chitoniskos, whenever he can be forced to wear anything at all.
Artisans and middle class workers didn't wear chitons. There's no way you could do practical labour wearing that thing. Instead, they wore an exomis. Chitons are unisex, but the exomis is men-only. Here's how to make an exomis:
- Do the stand-and-measure thing as before. But stop at the elbows, or even less, according to taste.
- Sew down the right, as before.
- Now, when you put it on from the right, forget about pins. Just tie the top left corners over the left shoulder.
- You're done!
The exomis is obviously very loose, and anyone looking from the left side is going to get an eyeful, but the Greeks weren't exactly bashful and even walking around naked was perfectly acceptable.
Nico almost always wears an exomis. That's partly because he comes from an artisan family where the exomis is standard daily work wear for his dad, but it's mostly because it's so much easier to battle bad guys with less material to deal with. The one time he tried to knife fight in a chiton, he tripped over.