The warm summery climate of
Ancient Egypt meant that simple lightweight linen clothes
were the most popular choice of most Egyptians. Whilst a
number of examples of New Kingdom textiles have survived,
studies of Ancient Egyptian dress and textiles are still
mostly based upon the study of wall paintings, reliefs and
The well documented kohl-rimmed eyes of the ancient
Egyptians are one of their most famous features.
were not thought of as a luxury, and most people, from the
simple peasant upwards to pharaoh himself made use of them.
The only tangible difference between the classes was the
quality of the products used.
Men and women followed the latest fashions in hair
dressing, make-up, and couture.
Egyptians adored baubles and all forms of jewellery,
including necklaces, rings, anklets and bracelets
were popular fashion accessories.
and worn with great attention and care, jewellery
was used not only for its beauty and precious
metals, but also for the magical and spiritual
protection it was believed to give the wearer.
Even the poor wore jewellery, but unlike the richer
nobles or royalty, their pieces tended to be mainly
decorative and non precious, and usually a simple
good-luck symbol or protective amulet.
Men usually dressed in short linen kilts or shirts sometimes
with a band of cloth worn over the shoulders, and women in
long fitted linen dresses. During the New Kingdom, fashion
became more complicated, with intricate pleats introduced to
tunics and dresses. Ordinary Egyptians wore course linen,
whilst the richer and wealthier Egyptians dressed in a
lighter, much more expensive cloth.
Semi-transparent "royal linen" was the best of all. Skins,
usually leopard skin would oftentimes be worn by priests and
the pharaoh for important temple and religious rituals.
Elaborate clothing and hair ornaments were worn by royalty
for ceremonial occasions.
and dressmaking were the only areas of industry that
remained dominate by females.
For a long time it was
mostly the women who were working in the spinning
and weaving workshops. Many of these manufacturing
shops were part of the more wealthy and aristocratic
houses of the nobility.
Linen was made from
the flax plant.
By stripping, beating and combing
the flax, long flat strips of fibre were made.
strips could then be spun into threads and were then
twisted into balls and stored as such until
required. The threads would then be woven into
The weaving was done at first on horizontal looms,
which were often just pegs rammed into the ground,
where the workers had to crouch on the floor, and
later during the New Kingdom on vertical looms.
Dressmaking tools included knives (made first from
stone, then later copper, bronze and iron) and
needles (wood, bone and metal).
The basic garments of the
average Egyptian differed little throughout Egypt's history.
The length of a man's kilt varied a little, being initially
short during the Old Kingdom, although within the upper
classes it became more proper to wear it longer.
gradually became longer during the Middle Kingdom, when it
was often supplemented with a strip of linen draped loosely
over the shoulder which evolved into short sleeves, and
later into long sleeves.