The Meaning of Ancient Fashion

Topics: Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Social class Pages: 7 (2465 words) Published: March 18, 2011
Fashion plays an exceedingly important role in many societies because it reflects the social status of its citizens. This has been apparent for thousands of years, dating way back to Ancient Egypt. In Egypt, they used textiles, hair, and jewelry to establish their hierarchy. And due to cultural diffusion, another similar society was Ancient Rome, who also used hair, textiles, jewelry, make-up, and even gender to generate ones social status. All these components used to show class, plus many more are practiced today. One of these is conspicuous consumption, in which how much a person spends is especially evident. Conspicuous consumption plus other pursuits show how much money a person has, just by looking at how they dress. This is incredibly important because with money comes power, and when you have power you are at the top of the social pyramid, and are superior to all others. And the people who had more power were the leaders of these ancient societies. And while Social hierarchies were made evident by fashion, fashion was the easiest way of telling who was in what class. Social hierarchies were and are reflected due to fashion, because of the styles and designs of different garments, and how by looking at these you could identify which class a person belongs. Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptian empire lasted over 3000 years, and was broken up into 9 different Historical time periods. In its three thousand years, the empire was ruled by about 332 pharaohs ( 3/28). These pharaohs were supposedly the children of the gods, and this is what established their poilitical legitimacy. Pharaohs had rule over the entire empire, including art and dress.(Cosgrave 13) The Egyptians were polythesitic and extremely religious. Their gods assisted the Egyptians in keeping their fertile land fertile, and their most important resource, the Nile, flowing. The Nile river, which is the longest in the world, was used for transportation, and with the adaptable land it gave them the chance to specialize their labor. All of the Egyptians achievements were exponentially important, because their empire was so large. But despite it's size, the empire was still well organized, with distinct classes and different types of jobs. This is one of the reasons they are still well known today for their legendary architecture, creating one of the first written languages, and producing extraordinary clothing and trends.

The Egyptians made their fabulous clothing out of numerous materials, but the one most often used was linen. Linen is a breathable, lightweight fabric that can used to make countless garments. The Egyptians chose linen to make their clothes because due to harsh  and humid climates it allowed the wearer to have consistent airflow and keep them cool. The best linen was made from a very young flax plant, which was hard to find, and therefore reserved for the wealthy. Other fabrics often used were reeds, papyrus, and the bylbus plant which can be woven to create a more stiff material often worn by slaves and commoners." Clothes reflected the strictly hierarchal nature of Egyptian Society and distinguished social rank. But it was not the clothing styles that were determines by a person's position, it was the cloth used to make them. So, the higher a person's rank, the better the cloth he could wear: the Pharaoh's kilt would be made of fine linen, possibly enriched with gold thread, whereas, at the other end of the scale, the standard loincloth worn by a commoner was made of vegetable fibers or leather. Its weave varied according to social rank." (Cosgrave) Fabric is the key component in constructing clothes, and the construction of the clothes depended on the quality of the fabric, which if nicer created more valuable attire.

Women and Men’s clothing was fairly similar in Ancient Egypt. Both made from the same fabrics, and both designed to keep the wearer cool in the hot climate of Egypt. But the one thing that set the...
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