Fashion is as old as civilization and maybe a bit older. I believe that the need for beauty originated with humanity itself and caring about the way you look has always been a part of the human mind. It’s not just vanity that makes us create, wear and love fashion, but a deeply rooted need for acceptance, belonging, and for self-expression too. Well, that’s why I love fashion, and why I wanted to share with you a piece from one of the very first articles I wrote about this enchanting world. This article was written 8 years ago, as a part of my graduation project. It was about the history of fashion, Egyptian fashion in particular, and the mutual relationship between clothing in the eastern and western ancient worlds.
Would you like to join me on a journey? One that will take us through the realms of not only places, but times as well, to show you how the relationship between Egypt and the west, specifically in terms of fashion, was established ages ago and how the influences they had on each other were truly mutual.
Our destination is an ancient Egyptian house, built on the bank of the great Nile River. The place is surrounded by neat green gardens decorated with flowers of many colors and sectioned by water springs with blue lovely lotus floating about. Leaving the garden, we enter the house, which belongs to a higher-class family in the era of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Passing the main entrance, we find ourselves in a wide hall with ceiling supported by painted pillars and corners embellished by beautiful golden furniture.
Its daytime, so men are out working and all those in the house are the women of the family. Each of them is wearing an elegant outfit, and the outfits vary from skirts and shawls to tunics and robes. These clothes were characterized by their basically white color and their smooth linen fabrics draped in rich pleated layers. To the white color of their clothes, Egyptian women added many colorful accessories. They usually wore bejeweled neck collars and necklaces known as pectorals, in addition to adorned belts and bracelets. Jewelry and embellishments were not only for the well-off ladies, they were used by women from all classes in Ancient Egypt. The beauty of these accessories can alone prove how elegant and trendy the ancient Egyptian woman was.
Very similar styles of clothes and fabrics prevailed in the Roman and Greek empires for ages; the same white color, light fabrics and pleated shapes with some changes in the designs of accessories and draping of outfits. The fact is that Egypt influenced Greek and Roman fashion and was influenced by it in times of peace and war.
Women, even at these ancient times, cared a lot about their beauty. The women we see in our journey are definitely wearing makeup. Ancient Egyptians had black and green eye liner, lip stick and cheek blush as well as nail polish made of natural dyes and henna. The ways they applied makeup and most of the tools they used can still be seen and are actually considered trendy till the current day.
It will take hundreds of pages and thousands of words to describe every beautiful outfit, every amazing piece of jewelry and every pretty lady’s eye makeup in Pharaonic Egypt. As for me, I don’t mind writing all those words if I ever had a chance to see that great old world for myself. But, for today, let’s be content with this short introduction and those few facts about the world of ancient fashion and let’s all hope for the invention of a time machine so that we can truly take a journey through the fabrics of time and see for ourselves how great, and how fashionable too, those ancient civilizations were.