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What did women wear in ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egyptian Women’s Fashion Explored

When we think of ancient Egypt, we often envision pyramids, pharaohs, and hieroglyphics. But what about the fashion of ancient Egyptian women?

Did they dress conservatively or were their clothing choices as diverse and vibrant as their culture?

Join us as we delve into the world of ancient Egyptian women’s fashion and uncover the secrets behind their traditional clothing. From linen garments to intricate jewelry, we’ll explore how fashion was an integral part of their society.

Discover the clothing styles, materials, footwear, and accessories that adorned the women of ancient Egypt.

Are you ready to unravel the mysteries of ancient Egyptian women’s fashion? Let’s embark on our journey back in time.

Clothing for Men and Women in Ancient Egypt

Both men and women in ancient Egypt had their distinct clothing styles. The dress style in ancient Egypt was influenced by social status, climate, and practicality. Understanding the garments of this era provides valuable insights into the culture and lifestyle of ancient Egyptians.

Men’s Clothing

Men in ancient Egypt typically wore tunics, which were loose-fitting garments made from linen. The tunic for men was worn above the waist, leaving the legs exposed. It was often accessorized with a belt to cinch the waist and add a touch of style. This garment allowed for easy movement and kept the wearer cool in the arid climate.

Women’s Clothing

Women’s dress style in ancient Egypt was more varied and encompassed a range of garments. Similar to men, women also wore tunics but theirs were worn below the waist, reaching the ankles. Additionally, women often wore dresses and skirts made from linen or other fabrics such as wool and leather. These garments were more fitted and tailored to enhance the feminine silhouette.

Due to the warm climate, ancient Egyptian women’s fashion prioritized lightweight and breathable fabrics to provide comfort. Linen was the most commonly used fabric for both men’s and women’s clothing. It was easy to produce, making it accessible to people from different social backgrounds.


Footwear played a significant role in ancient Egyptian attire, providing protection from the hot sands and rough terrain. Sandals were the most common type of footwear, typically made from leather or papyrus. Men wore sandals more frequently than women, as women often walked barefoot or wore soft slippers indoors.

The types and styles of clothing in ancient Egypt varied across different eras and social classes. The upper classes had access to finer fabrics and more extravagant garments, while commoners wore simpler clothing. The clothing choices also reflected cultural and religious beliefs, as well as personal preferences.

Ancient Egyptian fashion was a symbol of identity, reflecting social status and cultural customs. The dress style in ancient Egypt represented not only practicality but also an expression of artistic and aesthetic sensibilities.

Popular Footwear for Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egyptians, both men and women, commonly wore sandals as their primary form of footwear. While men tended to wear sandals more frequently, sandals were also a popular choice among women for their practicality and comfort. Sandals were crafted using various materials, including papyrus, leather, and woven papyrus.

Different types of sandals emerged, each with its unique design and purpose. Two popular types of sandals worn by both men and women were the Deshret sandals and the Hekt sandals.

Deshret Sandals

Deshret sandals were characterized by their sturdy construction and the use of materials such as leather and woven papyrus. These sandals provided protection and support for the wearer’s feet, making them suitable for everyday activities and outdoor work.

Hekt Sandals

Hekt sandals were known for their decorative elements and intricate designs. These sandals featured ornate patterns and embellishments, reflecting the fashion-forward nature of ancient Egyptian attire. Hekt sandals were primarily worn for ceremonial occasions and special events.

attire for women in ancient Egypt

Footwear played a significant role in ancient Egyptian fashion, providing both functionality and style. Sandals were versatile and adaptable to the Egyptian climate, providing comfort in the hot and dry desert environment. They were an essential element of the attire for women in ancient Egypt, as well as the overall fashion landscape of the time.

Type of Sandal Materials Usage
Deshret Sandals Leather, woven papyrus Everyday wear, outdoor activities
Hekt Sandals Leather, woven papyrus Ceremonial occasions, special events

Influence of Religion on Ancient Egyptian Fashion

Religion played a significant role in shaping fashion in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians believed that their clothing and jewelry choices had a direct impact on their relationship with the gods. Specific garments and accessories were worn to gain favor and protection from the divine beings.

One notable example of religious influence on ancient Egyptian fashion can be seen in the attire worn by pharaohs. These powerful rulers adorned themselves with garments that symbolized their status and authority. The pharaohs wore half-pleated kilts, known as shendyts, which were intricately woven and often made from linen, a highly prized fabric. They also draped themselves in leopard skin cloaks, a symbol of their connection to the divine world and their association with the powerful deity, Sekhmet.

The priests in ancient Egypt had their distinct dress code for religious ceremonies. They wore long, white linen robes known as “shrouds,” which symbolized purity and their dedication to the gods. Additionally, priests often wore animal masks and headdresses representing different deities during religious rituals.

Jewelry and amulets were popular accessories among both men and women in ancient Egypt, and they held religious significance. These ornaments were believed to have protective qualities and could ward off evil spirits. Commonly worn jewelry included necklaces, bracelets, arm cuffs, rings, and anklets. The materials used ranged from precious metals like gold and silver to semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian. The designs incorporated symbols of gods and goddesses, sacred animals, and other religious iconography.

The religious influence on ancient Egyptian fashion extended beyond clothing and jewelry. Makeup, such as kohl eyeliner and colored eyeshadow, was an integral part of their beauty rituals and had spiritual connotations. Kohl eyeliner, made from a combination of metal ores and other natural substances, was applied to the eyes as a way to protect against the evil eye and enhance their connection with the gods.

Evolution of Ancient Egyptian Fashion

In ancient Egypt, fashion was not static but evolved over time, reflecting changing cultural influences and societal norms. The fashion choices of ancient Egyptians were an expression of their identity, social status, and cultural beliefs. The clothing styles, designs, and accessories varied across different eras, showcasing the dynamic nature of fashion in ancient Egypt.

One significant aspect of the evolution of ancient Egyptian fashion was the development of different clothing types and lengths. For instance, the style of men’s skirts changed throughout various time periods. In the Old Kingdom, men wore knee-length skirts, while in the Middle Kingdom, the skirts became longer, reaching the ankles. During the New Kingdom, men often wore a shendyt, a wraparound skirt that was either pleated or plain.

Women’s dresses also underwent changes over time. Initially, women wore simple straight dresses that were held up by shoulder straps. However, as time progressed, women’s dresses became more pleated and draped, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication to their attire. These pleated dresses, known as kalasiris, were often brightly colored and adorned with decorative patterns.

It is worth noting that the fashion of the pharaohs and nobility was more elaborate and luxurious compared to that of ordinary citizens. They adorned themselves with fine fabrics, intricate jewelry, and accessories that symbolized their wealth and status. The pharaohs, in particular, wore distinct garments that epitomized their authority and divine connection.

To illustrate the evolution of fashion in ancient Egypt, here is a table showcasing the changes in clothing styles:

Era Men’s Fashion Women’s Fashion
Old Kingdom Knee-length skirts Simple straight dresses
Middle Kingdom Longer skirts reaching the ankles Patterned kalasiris
New Kingdom Pleated or plain shendyt Pleated and draped dresses

The evolution of fashion in ancient Egypt was influenced by various factors, including changes in political power, cultural exchanges with neighboring civilizations, and economic prosperity. Despite these transformations, simplicity and comfort remained important principles in ancient Egyptian fashion, as the hot climate called for lightweight, breathable fabrics.

Next, we will explore the textiles and materials used in ancient Egyptian clothing, shedding light on the craftsmanship and techniques employed to create these iconic garments.

fashion in ancient Egypt

Textiles and Materials in Ancient Egyptian Clothing

In ancient Egypt, clothing played a significant role in expressing social status and cultural identity. The materials used in ancient Egyptian clothing reflected not just the practical necessities but also the values and aesthetics of the society.

One of the primary materials used in ancient Egyptian clothing was linen. Linen was favored for its light and breathable nature, making it suitable for the hot and arid climate. It was also a mark of luxury and sophistication. Linen garments were typically left in their natural white color, symbolizing purity and cleanliness. Occasionally, colored dyes were used to add vibrancy and variety to the garments.

While linen was the predominant fabric, other materials were also used in ancient Egyptian clothing. Wool, although less common, was occasionally used. However, it was considered impure and was not widely accepted. Animal fibers, such as those from goats and sheep, were reserved for the wealthy and elite.

In addition to linen and wool, other fibers like cotton and byssus (flax) were utilized in ancient Egyptian clothing. These materials provided alternatives for different purposes and occasions, showcasing the versatility and ingenuity of ancient Egyptian fashion.

Here is a table summarizing the textiles and materials used in ancient Egyptian clothing:

Material Description
Linen The primary fabric used in ancient Egyptian clothing, known for its light and breathable qualities.
Wool Occasionally used but considered impure and less common compared to linen.
Animal Fibers Reserved for the wealthy and elite, typically derived from goats and sheep.
Cotton An alternative fabric occasionally used, providing diversity in texture.
Byssus (Flax) Another material utilized, contributing to the range of available textiles.

Ancient Egyptian clothing materials represented the practical needs of the society, as well as the cultural and religious beliefs of the time. Through the meticulous use of different fabrics, ancient Egyptians exemplified their craftsmanship and creativity in fashion.

Hairstyles, Makeup, and Jewelry in Ancient Egypt

When it comes to ancient Egyptian fashion, hairstyles played an essential role in defining one’s appearance. Both men and women shaved their heads and adorned themselves with intricate wigs. These wigs were not only a fashion statement but also reflected social status. Immensely popular, wigs were often embellished with beads, feathers, and jewels, showcasing the wearer’s wealth and taste.

Jewelry was another integral aspect of ancient Egyptian fashion. It served as a symbol of social status, with the wealthy adorning themselves in exquisite pieces made from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, and precious stones. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings were commonly worn by both men and women, adding a touch of glamour and sophistication to their attire.

Ancient Egyptians were also fond of makeup and cosmetics. Kohl eyeliner, made from a mixture of galena, lead sulfide, and other ingredients, was widely used to enhance the eyes. Colored eyeshadow made from minerals, such as malachite and lapis lazuli, was applied to the eyelids to create a striking effect. These cosmetics not only added beauty but also had religious and spiritual significance.

The use of hairstyles, makeup, and jewelry in ancient Egypt was not merely superficial; it was a reflection of the culture and beliefs of the time. These fashion elements allowed individuals to express themselves, showcase their status, and pay homage to their gods. Today, ancient Egyptian fashion continues to captivate us with its timeless elegance and allure.


Q: What did women wear in ancient Egypt?

A: Women in ancient Egypt wore tunics, dresses, and skirts. The fabrics used included linen, leather, and wool.

Q: What kind of clothing did men and women wear in ancient Egypt?

A: Both men and women wore tunics, but men wore them above the waist and women wore them below. Men also wore skirts, while women wore dresses and skirts.

Q: What type of footwear did ancient Egyptians wear?

A: Sandals were the most common type of footwear, made from materials such as papyrus, leather, and woven papyrus. Different types of sandals were popular among both men and women.

Q: How did religion influence ancient Egyptian fashion?

A: Religion played a significant role in ancient Egyptian fashion. Certain clothing and jewelry choices were believed to help gain favor from the gods. Pharaohs wore garments symbolizing their power, while priests had their own distinct dress code for religious ceremonies.

Q: How did ancient Egyptian fashion evolve over time?

A: Ancient Egyptian fashion changed in styles, designs, and accessories over time. The length and type of clothing changed across different eras, and women’s dresses became more pleated and draped. The fashion of pharaohs and nobility was more elaborate compared to ordinary citizens.

Q: What fabrics were used in ancient Egyptian clothing?

A: Linen was the primary fabric used due to its light and breathable nature. Wool was rarely used, and animal fibers were reserved for the wealthy. Other materials such as cotton and byssus (flax) were also used.

Q: What role did hairstyles, makeup, and jewelry play in ancient Egyptian fashion?

A: Hairstyles were significant, with both men and women shaving their heads and wearing wigs adorned with beads and jewels. Jewelry indicated social status. Makeup, such as kohl eyeliner and colored eyeshadow, was commonly used.

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