12 June 2008
How to dress like the ancient Greeks
Things are...well...I won't say settling down, but slowing just a bit. Work is over for the summer, and I'm back from the Maryland Faerie Festival (I don't have any pics, because it was just too damn hot to take any) and I've turned in my FLE's and excerpts for The Ankh of Isis. Now I'm looking forward to the fall, and the paperback release of The Crown of Zeus, which you can pre-order on Amazon now but won't be out (officially) until December.
But I'm always thinking ahead. And I have some cool ideas to help promote the book, one of which is to dress in ancient Greek costume for my fall events, like Philcon. Actually, probably for most events I have in the next couple of years, considering the series is the Library of Athena, I'll just use the costume for the life of the series. Anyway, I was considering going with a pre-made costume pattern, but then I did some Googling and found I could get in touch with my inner Goddess and do the thing properly...just like the ancient Greeks.
Of course I'm sharing it with you, so just stop your whining. You can do this even if you don't know how to sew, because there's really no sewing involved unless you want to.
First of all, the greeks did NOT wear togas. The Romans are the ones famous for the toga. The Greeks wore chitons or peplos, depending on how you wore the giant piece of fabric that was your clothing. Yep, one gigantic piece of fabric, folded and tucked and pinned all around you. Come to think of it, it's not much different than an authentic kilt in that respect.
The first thing to do is measure your fabric. Put down that measuring tape! If you want a chiton, which is a simple garment pinned at the shoulders and down the arms, you need a piece of fabric (preferably linen or wool, but a poly/cotton blend that hangs nicely will do) that is as tall as you are and that goes from fingertip to fingertip with your arms extended outward...twice. If you understand DaVinci's Vetruvian man, you know that means as tall as you are twice over. I'm 66" tall, so I need a piece of fabric 132" wide. It's hard to find a piece of fabric that wide, I know, but you can fudge it and get two lengths of 60" fabric and sew it together up one side. If you use fabric with an obvious pattern, try to match it up so it looks like one piece.
Take this piece of enormous fabric and fold in half lengthwise, so it's as tall as you and as wide as your fingertips once and makes a huge tube. Step inside the tube and pin it at your shoulders, front to back. That's it. You can make sleeves by pinning the rest down your arm at regular intervals. It's gonna be long, so get yourself a belt, preferably some kind of pretty rope like the kind they use to tie back curtains. Tie the belt around and pull the excess fabric over it until you aren't tripping over it.
The peplos, which is what is shown in the picture up there, is even easier. The fabric tube only needs to be half as wide, or from your elbow to elbow. I'll make things easy - just get a piece that's as wide as you are tall. The length should be as tall as you are, plus eighteen inches. Take your fabric, fold down the top eighteen inches, then fold the whole thing lengthwise into a tube, just like you did with the chiton. Step inside the tube and pin at the shoulders, front to back, catching both layers of the folded part. Belt around the waist, leaving the fold hanging loose, and pull up the excess length. If you want, you can sew or pin the open side closed, or just make sure you've got on something underneath that people won't be offended by.
The one in the pic is a different type of peplos, with a longer fold that's belted over, so it looks like a second layer at the skirt level. Play around with it.
You can do any color, and accessorize with pretty pins and jewelry. That's really all there is to it. Just folds and pins and you look just like an ancient Greek. It's a pretty ingenious piece of fashion, isn't it? The fabric is so big, it'll always fit, and if you're a kid and you grow, the draping and excess fabric allows for growth. You could have the same peplos for years. Very economical.
And if these directions are too confusing, you can check out this site, which has pictures.
Have fun making your own Greekwear!