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Costumes from Around the World

World CostumesClothing varies from country to country, but this was most especially true in ancient times. Such variation in fashion lasted up to the Colonial Period. Halloween is a great time to wear both children and adult costumes inspired by these periods from different countries. Here are some examples:

Ancient costumes

Romans: The Romans liked simple garments that draped easily. They rarely sewed as the needles were unwieldy. Roman men wore tunics that reached the knees. Women's tunics were long and had sleeves. Men didn’t wear sleeves, which were considered effeminate until the third century. Togas were worn by all free men in Rome.

Persians: Persian men and women liked elaborate clothing, makeup and jewelry. The higher the status of a person, the more elaborate the clothing was. Persians of lower stature wore animal fur. When the Persian empire grew, elaborate silk and cotton garments were popular. Typically, a Persian garment began with a long sheath that was fastened at the waist. Then, another fabric was draped over it and also fastened at the waist. Others wore knee length attire with pants underneath.

Egypt: Clothing in this country was defined by the desert heat. Linen was commonly used because it was light and cool. For makeup, kohl was used to highlight the eyes. The Egyptians were fond of jewelry – rings, bracelets and necklaces.

Greeks: The Greeks wore handmade clothes that could also double as a shroud or blanket. Clothes were brightly hued and even the smallest square fabric could be elaborately patterned. Tunics (also called peplos or cloaks) were worn by both sexes. It was draped on the body, tucked and folded, then fastened at the shoulder with a trinket or ornament. They also wore a chiton, sometimes with sleeves, that was stitched on each side and girded at the waist.

Costumes From the Middle Ages

Tudor England: Clothing during the Tudor period was a status symbol. The wealthier you were, the more elaborate your garments. The fabrics of the rich were wool, silk and linen, all elaborately designed. Skirts were padded and underneath, hoops were worn to make the skirts very wide. Men wore frilly, silk shirts. The frills were elaborately placed on the necks and wrists. They also wore close fitting jackets, with or without sleeves, called doublets. Common men wore simple tunics and trousers underneath, while women wore floor-length woolen dresses.

Europeans: During the Middle Ages it was common for both boy and girls to wear dresses. However, as they grew up men began to wear tunics girded with belts. They wore trousers underneath the tunics; and beneath the trousers they wore leggings. Women wore simple tunic dresses. One item of clothing was the rage during the Middle Ages in Europe – stockings. Everybody wore them.

Colonial Period:

The New World: When the pilgrims first landed in the US they brought with them elaborate long dresses with petticoats underneath. However as the practicalities of colonial living wore on, the “sack-back gown” became the rage. These informal dresses were loose at the back and front. Bodices were open fronted and bell sleeves were very popular. Men wore pantaloons that fastened below the knee and shirts with extra large cuffs that were turned back and fastened. Collars were straight standing.

Native Americans: Native American men wore animal clothing, most commonly, leather. They wore a breechcloth on their loins, and covered themselves with animal hide worn over the head and falling below their shins. This was tucked with a belt. Sometimes, they wore war shirts and leggings. They were fond of fringe on their clothes and wore moccasins. Women wore leather dresses with fringe and leggings. The length of dresses varied and overall, Native American clothing varied depending on what tribe they belonged to.

Time Period Costume Resources:

• Egyptian Adornments

• Roman Dress

• Roman Clothing

• 18th Century Persian Clothing

• Middle Ages European Dress

• Tudor Dress

• Clothing of the 1700s

• Native American Clothing