Gold Tutankhamun Artifact

Unravelling the Fascinating Fashion Trends of Ancient Egypt

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For the ancient Egyptians, fashion was not simply a matter of practicality but demonstrated their culture, religion, and social class. Whether clothes, jewellery, makeup, or hairstyles, the Egyptians boasted a distinctive style that continues to inspire and be remembered.

Clothing in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, clothing was an important indicator of social class and wealth through materials, quality, and style.

Materials and Fabrics

Many clothes were made from linen since it was a light fabric that would have been lightweight and comfortable to wear due to the extreme heat of the weather. Royal linen was said to be softer and whiter than the average garment. Less commonly, wool was thought to have been used to make cloaks for cool nights.

Clothing Styles

Egyptian men would be shirtless and either dress in loincloths, for the working class, or skirts that were tied at the waist with a belt; these kinds of skirts would vary in length depending on the fashion of the time period. While women wore straight dresses that reached their ankles, supported by two straps over their shoulders.

In later periods, these linen garments would be elaborately pleated. Slaves, on the other hand, would generally be completely naked. Most people would also be barefoot, following the example of their gods. But for special occasions, shoes made from leather were worn.

Symbolism and Colour

Linen clothing was naturally white-coloured but this was also symbolic of Egyptian ideals of purity and hygiene. Royal linen tended to be more colourful, with embroidered patterns, beadwork, and vibrant threading. Each colour was thought to have a symbolic meaning.

Blue represented the god of air, Amun, while green signified youth and energy. Red, indicative of violence, was hardly used. While black was solely for an individual’s hair, or wig, colour. Often, symbols such as lotus flowers, scarab beetles, and other animals were featured on the garments as dedications to certain gods.

Accessories and Adornments

Paired with their simple linen garments, the Egyptians favoured elaborate jewellery, hairstyles and makeup.

Jewellery and Adornments

The Egyptians adorned themselves heavily with various kinds of colourful jewellery, including necklaces, bracelets, armbands, headpieces, rings, and amulets to name a few. They believed that these pieces protected the wearer from harm and brought luck into their lives.

Thus, many pieces were adorned with religious symbols such as scarabs, ankhs, or the eye of Horus, and, sometimes, hieroglyphs. Individuals from every social class accessorised with jewellery, although the material of the jewellery depended on their wealth.

The higher class wore jewellery that signified their wealth like gold, silver, and precious stones; jewels such as lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian stone were particularly popular and thought to have healing powers. The lower class, on the other hand, could only afford those made from wood and ceramic beads. Jewellery was so important in their culture that Egyptians would be buried with their favourite pieces.

Hairstyles and Headpieces

The Egyptians were fixated on the concept of cleanliness, they considered excessive hair therefore to be dirty. Men would shave their faces, and priests would rid their whole bodies of hair. The upper class sometimes opted to be bald, choosing instead to wear wigs made of human hair and plant fibre.

These intricate wigs were long and heavy, arranged into many plaits. Headdresses, such as crowns and nemes, were reserved for Egyptian royalty as an indication of their authority and power.

Makeup and Cosmetics

In ancient Egypt, bold makeup was regularly used by men and women, thought to protect their skin from the sun, mimic their gods, and defend them from evil. Ochre, a red clay, or henna was used to redden lips, cheeps, and nails. For the eyes, blue and green eyeshadow was used from powdered minerals, like galena or malachite.

Infamously, many Egyptians would also line their eyes with kohl, a black powder, that shielded wearers from the harshness of the sun.

Influences and Legacy

Ancient Egyptian fashion possessed a very distinctive and elegant aesthetic, with coiffed hairstyles, ornate jewellery, and delicately draped clothes. This style of simplicity paired with overt accessories, has held a lasting influence on the world of fashion. Vibrant eyeshadows, bold red lipsticks, and smoky eyes, inspired by Egyptian beauty practices, continue to be popular today.

The opulence of Egyptian fashion is also resurrected through intricate costumes in movies and TV shows centered around Egypt. Additionally, ancient Egyptian motifs like scarabs, ankhs, and hieroglyphics, commonly found on ancient jewelry, are frequently depicted in paintings, sculptures, and even slot games like “Book of dead slot,” signifying the timeless allure and fascination with the fashion and culture of Ancient Egypt.

Additionally, the Nemes headdress is frequently depicted in ancient Egyptian artwork and continues to inspire modern interpretations in fashion and entertainment. Its regal and commanding presence is often recreated in theatrical productions, fashion shows, and Halloween costumes.

Conclusion

Ancient Egyptian fashion is renowned for combining functionality with style to create an incredibly distinct aesthetic. The ground-breaking trends of the time have ensured that the Egyptians possess an enduring legacy within fashion history.