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History of Clothing

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Don Quixote View Drop Down

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: History of Clothing
    Posted: 26-Mar-2012 at 01:47
I used to make doll's clothes that represent clothing in different ancient cultures, so along this I did quite a bot of research on history of clothing. So, I thought it would be a good idea to make a thread about it, it's an area that is a picturesque one to write about.

I'll start with Sumeria. The sumerians made their clothes from flax and wool, and used them according to weather.
"...Men were barechested and wore skirt-like garments that tied at the waist. Women usually wore gowns that covered them from their shoulders to their ankles. The right arm and shoulder were left uncovered. Men were either clean shaven or had long hair and beards. Women wore their hair long, but they usually braided it and wrapped it around their heads. When entertaining guests, women would place headdresses in their hair.

Sumerian PrincessAlthough both rich and poor Sumerians wore the same style of clothing, the wealthier Sumerians wore clothing that was made out of expensive and luxurious materials. Wealthy women and princesses also wore clothing that was colorful and bright...."

Jewelry was worn by man and women alike.

The male clothing is well seen on this sculpture

Female dress and male clothing

Here a more refined account, date-conscious too:

"...The Sumerian civilization was established before 4000 BC and reached a high level of culture between 2700 and 2350 BC. In early times both sexes wore sheepskin skirts with the skin turned inside and the wool combed into decorative tufts. These wraparound skirts were pinned in place and extended from the waist to the knees or, for more important persons, to the ankles. The upper part of the torso was bare or clothed by another sheepskin cloaking the shoulders. From about 2500 BC a woven woolen fabric replaced the sheepskin, but the tufted effect was retained, either by sewing tufts onto the garment or by weaving loops into the fabric. Named kaunakes by the Greeks, this tufted fabric is shown in all the sculptures and mosaics of the period, as, for example, in the art from the excavations at Ur exhibited in the British Museum in London. At this time, also, long cloaks were worn, and materials for garments and head coverings included felted wool and leather. Men were generally clean-shaven. Both sexes seem to have often worn large wigs, as in ancient Egypt. Metalworking was of a high standard, as may be seen in the elaborate golden jewelry, which was encrusted with semiprecious stones and worn by both sexes: brooches, earrings, hair ornaments, and neck chains.....",%20dress.htm

Male clothing, that shows the "tuffs" the article talks about.

Edited by Don Quixote - 26-Mar-2012 at 01:53
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Don Quixote View Drop Down

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2012 at 02:06
Ancient Assyrian and Babylonian clothing:
- around 2500 BC:
"... These two styles were worn alone, or in combination and changes were introduced by varying the proportions of the tunic or shawl. The simple shawl shown right, was dependant on how the wearer wrapped it and the drapery is circa 2500 B.C. after the figure of King Gudea at the British Museum.

Many of the styles illustrated here are suitable for costumes to wear in religious plays and pageants.  This first shawl pattern uses a length of fabric to create Assyrian Style A of King Gudea below right.  The measurements are 56" by 118".

  1. To wrap this style place corner B under the left armpit and draw edge B to A around the back shoulder under the right armpit.

  2. Next take the drape across the front of the chest and around the back again and under the right arm pit yet again.

  3. Simple Draped Assyrian Costume Shawl Pattern GuideNow throw edge B to A upwards across the chest and over the left shoulder so that corner A hangs down the back.

  4. Finally take corner A and tuck it in at the right side breast. Unless you choose to raise the left arm, it remains totally covered by the drapery. ..."


- around 1000 BC:
"...  The main Assyrian clothing was candy – tunic with whole-cut sleeves reaching the elbows or being even longer. The length of the tunic reached the knees, and a wide belt was tied up on the hips. The quality of cloth, decorations, the length and the quantity of dresses wearing at the same time were specified by the estate. Only the king had the right to wear more than one dress. His long candy was made of thin, white wool richly decorated with embroidery of geometrical sornaments, gold chased plates and thick fringe on the edge. The king wore a long coat over the tunic without pleats, decorated with fringe and embroidery.
The commonly used colour of coat was purple. Besides their decorative purpose, gold plates had a symbolic meaning, expressing the sun, the moon and stars.
The most favorite type of decoration was fringe which was either sewn at the bottom of the dress or was worn as a separate decoration. The crossed fringe on the chest was the typical feature in the officer’s clothes. The clothing of king and elite was made of thin and expensive wool fabric. The production of cloth, decorated with coloured needlework, reached the highest skill and was the main product for foreign trade.
Typical Assyrian Dye Colours included purple of different shades (red, violet, blue, paler blue) and yellow (orange, brown). The secret of fabrics colouring was being kept in Assyria for a long time. There were almost no female images in culture due to deprivation of women’s rights in the society. We can see the clothing of empress and slaves on the bas-relief pictured the king Ashurbanipal with his wife in the garden. Both of them wore similar dresses...."
Design decisions of Assyrian clothing included principles of primitive cut which lay in the base of all types of eastern clothing of later period. It was a combination of laid on and draped clothing of two types: long and short dresses consisted of one or two parts. In the first case, all the body was wrapped with a rectangular cloth, the neck was wrapped with the upper part of fringed dress placing the cut in the middle and a wide belt was put above the dress.
In the second case the body, from the knee to the waist, was wrapped with the lower part of the dress, the upper part of the dress a rectangular piece of cloth with figured contours and with a space for the neck. The waist was tied with a belt. Both upper part and lower part were decorated with the fringe.


   Shoes were frequently used in Assyrian than in Egypt. The king, elite and solders wore shoes.
Leather sandals were made with a closed back and sometime had a small heel. Later high boots replaced sandals which were mostly used by solders.
Assyrian headgears were not big in size, had a round form, with a forehead band or had a form of truncated cone. They were made of thick felt. The king wore a white felt tiara, decorated with metal plates. The gold forehead band with enamel, jewels, fringe at the bottom was tied up over the tiara.
Decoration was lavish in Assyrian costume. Spiral bracelets on shoulders, wrists and ankles, earrings, rings had decorative and symbolic meaning.
According to Assyrian aesthetics, hair was an important part of human beauty, for this reason their headgears struck by their luxuriance. Moustaches, whiskers and long beards were generally frizzed, hair was braided by rows and ends of the braids were frizzed again. Wigs were widely used...."


The most common material for clothing was wool, although linen had been known from an early period and was often used for better-quality garments. Cotton did not become available until Sennacherib introduced it into Assyria in about 700 BC, from which time it was used for the making of cloth. Other materials sometimes used were leather and papyrus. The skins and furs of animals and metal were also in use, but chiefly for military and hunting costume.


The earliest type of costume here is a rather elaborate shawl drapery worn without any tunic underneath. Later comes the tunic with various-fringed shawl draperies worn in addition, and some of the latest types have the tunic worn alone without the shawl draperies. The dates given for the costumes illustrated in this style have been verified at the British Museum. It should be remembered, as in the case of ancient Egyptians costume, that the dresses changed very slowly indeed, and most styles of this era were worn literally for hundreds of years.


The representations of costume which Assyrian art has left us are almost entirely those of men’s dress. Two examples of women’s dresses are shown here. The first wears a plain ungirded tunic and a simply draped shawl covering the figure partially. The second is a dress of a Queen, and has the tunic almost entirely covered with a voluminous shawl. The wide belt with narrow belt over it seems to be confined to the men’s costume, as also the tighter and scantier shawl draperies, which exist in singular variety.


Though we do not possess the actual specimens of these costumes, still we can infer from the lavish ornament and, from references in the Old Testament writings that rich coloring prevailed. The dyes were probably similar to those of ancient Egypt, and this table will suggest the particular hue of each color:

  • Blue: Usually rather dark indigo, sometimes paler.
  • Red: Much like the color known as Indian red.
  • Yellow: Similar to yellow ochre.
  • Green: Much like the paint known as green bice, but rather more dull.
  • Purple: Dark, and quite a brownish hue of purple.

All these colors could be used as embroideries on a white or natural colored ground of linen, the embroideries being of wool. In other cases the whole garment might be colored throughout...."

Assyrian female costume:

Male Assyrian costume - the tunic and the shawl the quotes mention are well seen:

Assyrian tunic:

The tunic of King Assur-nasir-pal - Assyrian clothing ninth B.C.

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Nick1986 View Drop Down
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2012 at 19:08
Can we see some of the clothes you made Don?
Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!
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