Ancient Egyptians valued cleanliness and personal hygiene. They believed that cleanliness was synonymous with holiness, so they took extra efforts to take care of their bodies, and one of the ways they did that was through their clothing. Ancient Egypt had a sweltering climate, and because of this, the clothes they wore were designed to be simple and comfortable. Although these clothes were made from light and simple materials, they were usually made with great skill and precision and thus were very fashionable. Clothes were made depending on the age, sex, social status of people that were going to wear them. These clothes were made by skilled workers and were usually made with exceptional designs, and this made them uniquely different from all other clothing styles in the ancient world. Wigs, footwears, and animal skin are the other types of clothing typical in ancient Egypt.
Materials Used in Ancient Egyptian Clothing
Clothing in ancient Egypt was made from various materials, but the most widely used material was linen. The linen that was used by ancient Egyptians was often obtained from the flax plant. The fiber from this plant's stem was retrieved, washed, and made into clothes by spinning, weaving, and sewing. Linen clothes were stronger and lighter than clothes made from other types of materials; therefore, they were perfect for the hot Egyptian climate.
Wool and other animal fibers were also extensively used to make clothing materials. However, they were considered impure and unholy; therefore, they could not be worn into a religious gathering or worn by the religious leaders. There were only used as coats during the few winters. Leather and papyrus were also used to make footwear for both the commoners and the noble alike.
Human hair supplemented with palm fibers was also often used to made Wigs, which was popular among wealthy Egyptian men and women.
Clothing of Ancient Egyptian Men
Egyptian men often wore simple clothing. From about 2130BC, Egyptian men wore simple skirts made of linen material and worn around the waist. The garments popularly known as shendyt were only knee-long and were supported by a belt around the waist.
With time, men began to wear more sophisticated clothing that consisted of a light tunic and a petticoat. Male Egyptian slaves often worked naked, but they were allowed to wear a short linen kilt if they belonged to a wealthy family.
Pharaohs wore clothing that was significantly different from the commoners. Though these clothes were still made from the same materials, it was richly decorated, and it contains many designs. Unlike the common Shendyt used by the commoners, the pharaoh shendyt was a full robe specially designed with according pleating. Pharaohs also wore extraordinary headdresses such as the Khat and Nemes. Skins of exotic animals such as lions and leopards were also worn by pharaohs to signify their positions. Sometimes lion tails were attached to the pharaoh's belt. Pharaohs also wore wigs that were decorated with jewelry made from precious stones.
Clothing of Ancient Egyptian Women
Ancient Egyptian women's clothes were a little bit more concealing than men's clothes. They often wore special types of dress called Kalasiris. The shoulder supported the dress by straps. It covered the breast and often reached the ankles. The length of the clothing a woman wore usually determined her social status. Royal women who were tended to by servants and did not have to work wore long dresses that could reach their feet.
On the other hand, less wealthy women wore shorter dresses, which gave them enough freedom to move about and perform their duties. Women often wore shawls, capes, or robes over these dresses. The clothes were also usually colorful materials such as beads and feathers. They were made from tubes of materials sawn on one side and supported by a bodice with sleeves.
Pieces of Jewelry also formed a significant part of the Ancient Egyptian woman dressings. Since the weather did not permit bulky dressing, jewelry allowed them to display their wealth, luxury, and extravagance. Their jewelry was often made locally and imported from other foreign countries. Gold, silver, copper, glass, and colorful precious stones such as carnelian, amethyst, and jasper were used to make jewelry such as earrings, neck collars, necklaces, and bracelets. The quality of jewelry worn also reflect the social status of an individual in the community.
Wealthy women in ancient Egypt also wore wigs for special occasions. These wigs were often made from human hair and some other synthetic materials.
Clothing of Ancient Egyptian Children
Egyptian children below the age of six rarely wore any clothes. They were allowed to move about naked. But after the age of six, they were allowed to wear unique clothing depending on their gender. Girls were given little Kalasiris dresses, while the boys wore Shendyt designed especially for them. During the cold winter, the children were wrapped in animal coats to protect them from the cold.
Children in ancient Egyptian society wore a special type of hairstyle called the side-lock; this hairstyle is made by leaving an unshaved length of hair on the right side of the hair. Even though children wore little or no clothing, they usually wear jewelry such as bracelets, anklets, and some other hair accessories. These pieces of jewelry were worn to protect them from evil spirits.
Footwears in Ancient Egypt
To complement their amazing dressing styles, ancient Egyptians also wore special footwear. They used sandals woven from reeds or leather. These sandals were quite effective and similar to contemporary sandals. The sandals had strong, durable soles that protected them from the hot desert sand and also buckles that made the sandals easily removable. Wealthy Egyptians wore sandals that were made with some exceptional designs and jewelry.
Covered Shoes were prized commodities and were worn only by extremely privileged individuals. There few covered shoes available were woven from palm fibers and grass, and those who processed them often preferred to remove them when traveling to prevent them from damage.