History Embalmed

Egyptian Clothing

The climate of Egypt is dry and hot so it was necessary for Egyptian clothing and fashion to be comfortable in the heat. The temperature did however drop in the evening and night and during the winter season.

The clothing and fashion therefore had to be both light, cool and non-restrictive. Egyptian clothing was dictated by the materials that were available in Egypt. Cotton did not grow in Egypt and there were no wool- bearing sheep.

Egyptian Clothing - The Materials

The materials used had to be easily accessible in Egypt. Linen was the most common material used for Egyptian clothing. Flax, the plant that produces linen threads grew easily in the rich silt soil of the River Nile.

The cloth made from the flax was produced either in the home or in temples and the workshops of the palace. The flax was combed and spun with a balance wheel on a spindle for spinning the thread from the flax.

The types of linen produced ranged from a course sackcloth type of material to the finest, almost transparent linen.

Egyptian Clothing - The Simplicity of Style
The simplicity of the style of Egyptian clothing lasted through the many hundreds of years of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The clothes needed very little stitching as they were simply draped around the body, however the higher the status of the person the more clothes and make-up they wore.

Egyptian Clothing and Jewelry

Egyptian Clothing & Fashion - The Dress of a Woman
The dress of a woman in the Old Kingdom was made with a simple rectangle of linen cloth. This was stitched down one side and straps were attached to the top edge, which were knotted or fastened with a buckle - a simple tube dress worn ankle-length. Some dresses had short sleeves or women wore short robes tied over their shoulders. Fashion changed in the period of the Middle Kingdom when patterned and colorful collars were worn. Fashion changed the look of Egyptian clothing again during the period of the New Kingdom. Advances in dye fixatives allowed for more colorful linen and the simple tube dress was adorned by an elaborate pleated and fringed robe which was worn over the dress. Wealthy Egyptian women also decorated their dress with feathers, sequins and different types of rosettes.

Egyptian Clothing & Fashion - The Dress of a Man
The dress of a man in the Old Kingdom was made with a small rectangle of linen cloth. The cloth was fashioned into a knee-length kilt which were knotted or fastened with a buckle at the waist. Fashion changed in the period of the Middle Kingdom when kilts became longer and straighter. Full length cloaks were also worn by the men during the winter. Fashion changed the look of Egyptian clothing again during the period of the New Kingdom. Advances in dye fixatives allowed for more colorful linen and the kilt was elaborately pleated and fringed. Pleating was achieved by pressing the linen on to a grooved board and fixed into place with starch or using a special pleating instrument. Sashes and aprons were also added to complete the change in fashion of men's clothing as were wide-sleeved tunics and under-kilts.

Egyptian Clothing & Fashion - The Royal crowns of the pharaohs
The royal crowns of Egypt were the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, the White Crown of Upper Egypt and the red and white double crown symbolising the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. A blue crown was worn when a pharaoh went into battle

Egyptian Clothing - The Colors
The colors of Egyptian clothing were predominantly white. Not only is this a good color to wear in the sun and the heat, the color white also symbolized purity. Decoration and color came from elaborate and colorful  jewelry together with wigs and make-up. White linen cloth was therefore used for dress in the Old and Middle Kingdoms of Egypt, although blue and brown dyes were occasionally used to color the linen. Egyptian clothing and fashion did not change in this respect until the age of the New Kingdom when the method for fixing dyes were discovered. At this time fashion changed and Egyptian dress became much brighter with red and green colors and fashion designs became more elaborate.  

Egyptian Clothing - Mass Produced
Egyptian clothing was often mass produced in temples, royal palaces and workshops. Contrary to some beliefs the workers who built he great monuments of Egypt were not slaves. They were ordinary Egyptians who were conscripted to work on the buildings for the divine Pharaoh and their sacred gods. Their clothing was supplied by the Pharaoh and the Priests, as part payment for their labour.

Washing Egyptian Clothing
The Egyptians were extremely particular about cleanliness and Egyptian clothing was frequently washed. The Egyptians did not have soap. Instead they used a natural deposit of the dessert called natron, which was a mixture of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate which dissolves grease. Natron was also used to clean teeth! Egyptian clothing was also kept clean by bleaching and as a finishing touch clothes were starched.

No Clothes or Loin Cloths?
The Egyptians were not a prudish race and were not concerned by naked flesh, in fact children rarely wore any clothes at all and it was not uncommon for labourers to work naked or wear just a twist of linen around their loins. Even the Upper Class Egyptians and nobles would just wear a loin cloth in their own homes and it was common to go barefoot, whatever the class, at home. Egyptian women did not wear any under clothes.

Egyptian Clothing & Fashion - Sandals
The Ancient Egyptian men and women wore a simple form of sandals on their feet. The sandals were made of palm fibre or braided papyrus. The sole of the sandal was shaped in the shape of the foot and straps were attached between the toes and either side of the heel. Ties were occasionally added to be fastened around the ankle. The inside soles of sandals belonging to noble men or the Pharaoh were elaborately decorated with images of the traditional enemies of Egypt - presumably to serve as a constant reminder to the men and the opportunity for the Egyptian man to step on and crush their enemies.

Egyptian Clothing
Each section of this Egyptian website addresses all topics and provides interesting facts and information about the Golden Age of Egypt. The Sitemap provides full details of all of the information and facts provided about the fascinating subject of Egypt, the Ancient Egyptians and of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, King Tut.

Ancient Egyptians

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