Origin of Fashion

by admin

What is the Origin of Fashion?

You’re all too familiar with the items of clothing that the models sport on the catwalks in Milan, Paris, and Rome. It may be tempting to think that fashion is an early 20th-century invention, but that assumption is entirely incorrect. Fashion in clothing, and especially women’s clothing, goes back several millennia. It’s time to explore the origin of fashion. So, let’s go in an imaginary time machine back to Ancient Egypt – the time and place where women were first bitten by the ‘fashion bug!’

Clothes Made A Real Statement in Ancient Egypt

And that statement was not necessarily a fashion statement either. Ancient Egyptian men and women wore clothing that was made out of cotton partly because the fabric was readily available and partly because it was comfortable.  About 95% of Egypt is desert, but that wasn’t the case in ancient times. Back then, the climate was much wetter and hotter because most of Egypt was tropical and subtropical.

So, people tended to sweat more. They craved breathable fabric that was lightweight and reflected the scorching Sun’s rays (so that they could stay cooler even when outside.) That said, looks mattered to Ancient Egyptians the same way it does to anyone living in the post-modern world.

Perhaps that’s why men and women in various Ancient Egyptian dynasties wore brightly colored clothing and accessorized with jewelry made from semi-precious and precious metals and stones. The most popular and commonly worn colors were white, red, blue, and yellow. As is the case with the Ancient Greeks and Romans who came after them, Egyptians tended to drape their clothes loosely around their body.

The reasoning for this was simple. It’s more comfortable and easier to move around when you loosely drape lighter and comfortable clothing around your body when the barometer soars outside. Of course, stitches were used because it’s almost impossible to cover your body completely solely by draping cloth around it.

However, stitches were used sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. Egyptians wore woven woolen clothes, but not too often since wool tends to sweat much more than cotton.

Footwear Was Natural

You would have been completely lost if you went shopping for fancy footwear (like most women love to do) in an Ancient Egyptian bazaar because these items would literally have been nowhere to be found. Both men and women wore simple sandals that were made from palm fronds or other tougher and more durable plant fibers, and/or leather. The wealthy sometimes wore footwear made from fur, but that was rare. The reason was that it was difficult to trap and kill furry animals and fashion footwear that was adorned with their skin and fur.

Cleanliness Was Next to Godliness

That saying may have been inspired by the late and great Gandhi, but Ancient Egyptians were clean freaks. Being heavily into bodily hygiene, they shaved their heads and wore wigs. Yes, even women wore wigs made from human hair. The reason is that hair is not very easy to keep clean. Dirty hair and a dirty scalp tend to attract lice and other pests that are hard to get rid of.

Big hair was popular in Egypt and many women did their wigs in elaborate hairdos to make a fashion statement and let their true personalities shine through.

Bling Was Big

Fashionable and flashy jewelry was all the rage for the rich and poor alike. People from all walks of life and from all classes wore at least a few pieces of jewelry on their bodies. Even men wore jewelry in Ancient Egypt. Amulets were common sightings back then. It wasn’t uncommon for amulets to sport symbols central to Ancient Egypt’s religion since they were instruments of protection for the wearer.

Women and men were obsessed with thick beaded collars. They also wore wide and jewel-encrusted armbands and bracelets. Many people wore rings on several fingers and they tended to have seals. They were status and authority symbols. So the seals were generally made from semi-precious stones and ivory.

A lot of jewelry was made from gold since, unlike as is the case today, it was more plentiful and easy to mine in Ancient Egypt. The same was true with semi-precious and precious stones. Most Egyptians wore jewelry made from pottery and other natural materials since these were much less expensive than precious metals like gold and silver.

Women’s Fashion Was Practical

Ancient Egyptian women didn’t believe in dressing up if the clothing wasn’t practical and comfortable. That’s why they wore sheath dresses with hems that barely touched the ground. Common women either wore plain white dresses or multi-colored checkered dresses. Domestic workers tended to wear the latter type of dress.

Wealthier women wore more elaborate pleated and fringed dresses, often with a sheer overgarment. Since Egypt was close to the more sophisticated, powerful, and advanced Roman and Greek civilizations, upper-class women tended to borrow Ancient Greek and Roman fashions, especially in later dynasties.


Fashion has always been ‘the in thing.’ While clothing has always been used to reflect a person’s social status and personality, among other traits, it had a much more practical application when it was first developed at the dawn of civilization



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