Costumes of Different Nations
Fewer things in the world are as diverse as the types of fashion found all over the world. While there have been so much changes in the costumes of different nations from the ancient times to the Colonial Period, it’s also not hard to see how the fashion of one era is related to another. Many of these types of fashions are now fodder for adult costumes during Halloween or other occasions.
Egyptians wore their clothes to cope with the hot desert climate they lived in. First, they preferred linen clothes that were very lightweight so that they would breathe well. Everyone at the time used cosmetics, most commonly kohl around their eyes. Jewelry was also very important. Egyptians would also wear necklaces, bracelets, and rings, no matter how rich or poor they were. Men would often wear kilts and women would wear complicated pleated dresses. Children would often go naked until puberty.
To Romans, simplicity was most important when it came to their garments. Clothes were most often made of wool and things were rarely sewn because needles during the period were extremely unwieldy. For underwear, they would wear a simple loin cloth and women would wear a brassiere. Most Romans wore simple tunics that would reach to the knees although women’s tunics would typically be longer and have sleeves. These sleeves were considered extremely effeminate until the second or third century. Togas were worn by free Roman citizens.
Both men and women used to wear makeup and jewelry. Persians were also known to color their body parts. Their clothing was much more elaborate than Roman dress and dress was determined by status, not sex. Animal fur was very common as were garments made of wool. As the Persian Empire expanded, clothing became much more elaborate as silk and cotton came into use. A typical dress would consist of a long sheath of cloth tightened at the waist over which another material was draped and then fastened to the waist. Some people also wore knee length dresses that had trousers underneath.
For most Greeks, every article of clothing they owned was handmade and could double as a blanket, shroud or ferment. These garments were always brightly colored even if they were only simple pieces of square fabric that was elaborately decorated. Women and men both wore a tunic, called a chiton, a peplos, or a cloak. The peplos would be placed over the body, folded, and then fasted at the shoulders with a brooch. The chiton was sewn at the sides and cinched at the waist. Often, sleeves would be attached to the sides.
The period defined as the Middle Ages spans about a thousand years but surprisingly, there was little change in dress during that period. Not much is actually known about dress during this time except that stockings were popular in all European countries. Children, both boys and girls, would often wear dresses until they reached a certain age. Men would wear tunics with belts, trousers, and leggings. Women would wear a simple tunic dress.
Tudor fashion focused on showing off how wealthy one was. The richer they were, the higher quality their clothing. Rich people had clothing made of wool, linen, or silk that was elaborately decorated. They also wore rugs and rich women had padded skirts held up by loops. Rich men had silk shirts that had frilled necks and wrists as well as doublets. Poor people wore trousers and a simple tunic with women wearing wool dresses that touched the ground.
Europeans during this time favored clothes that were light and fluid, often decorated with birds and flowers. Women wore dresses that were simple: a garment typically consisted of two pieces that were pleated at the waist with wide sleeves that were sewn in. Men wore clothes had often had rows of buttons on them with low hanging cravats. Collars became small and flat.
The New World
Women would often wear very ornate gowns with petticoats, but this fashion fell off as the period went on. “Sack-back gowns,” informal gowns that were unfitted in the back and front, became very popular. Open-fronted bodices were also popular as were bell or trumpet shaped sleeves. Men were still wearing breeches and waistcoats although by then, the coat’s skirts had pleated panels on them. They often wore shirts with oversized, turned back cuffs. Initially, collars were absent, but soon, a short-standing collar became popular.
Native Americans favored clothing that was made from animals which meant leather was almost always used. Men would wear breechcloths, rectangular pieces of hide tucked over a belt so that flaps fell both in front and behind, protecting the genitals. Some wore leggings. Shirts were not common unless they were war shirts. Women wore skirts and leggings with length that varied by size. Some tribes favored dong-piece dresses for their women. Native American clothing differed greatly, depending on the tribe.