Egypt has hot and dry weather because so much of it is a desert. The ancient Egyptians had to have clothing that was not too hot and allowed free flowing air to cool their bodies. Most of the clothes they wore were made of linen that was made from the flax plant. The type and quality of linen depended upon how rich the person was.
Egyptians used as much of the natural resources from their area as they could. Early on they discovered the strength of flax plant for making linen cloth. Each flax plant takes about 100 days to grow from seeds. When they bloomed, they were gathered together and placed in a moist vat, because the flax plant actually got stronger when it was wet. The plant dried very fast and when used, it lasted longer than almost all of the other fibers.
The ancient Egyptians were very concerned about their appearance and, unlike so many of the other cultures in the area at that time, chose to create individually hand sewn pieces, instead of just one big piece of cloth wrapped around their bodies. They wore a kind of ‘tunic’ made of white linen that might make you think of a t-shirt. A man’s tunic would reach his knee area, while a woman’s tunic would go all the way to the ankles. Women’s clothes looked more like a dress, and could have one or two shoulders covered and the linen cloth for women was made with a much better quality than the men’s.
When men were working they wore a kind of ‘loin cloth or kilt’ made of linen that was wrapped around the legs and waist. The length of the kilt depended upon what was in fashion at that time. There is no evidence that men or women wore any kinds of hats. This is probably due to the hot desert sun. Wearing a hat could make the person overheated. They did wear headdresses for special occasions. Many of the Egyptians went barefoot, but the rich are shown with sandals that are made from leather; poor people wore sandals made of woven papyrus reeds, which were a kind of straw.
If someone was very wealthy, they would be seen wearing a much better type of linen and would often add jewelry made of fine gemstones for decoration. The linen was so fine that you could almost see through it. It seems that the Egyptians do share some of the same things as people of today. The wealthy were very fashion conscious and were always trying to keep up with whatever fashion trends would happen. Some of these trends were set by the royal family, while others were influenced through the imported fashions and things from other countries.
People that were poor wore a more course or rough type of linen and could not afford jewels but might have added feathers or beads.
Children did not wear any clothes until they reached the age of 6. While they didn’t have any clothes, there are pictures of kids wearing anklets, collars, bracelets and hair accessories as decoration. Almost all slaves are shown with hardly any clothes and they worked without wearing anything at all. After they reached the age of six, most children wore the same type of clothes as their parents.
The royal family members wore the finest of linens and they were custom made for each member. They also wore the best jewels, gems and gold jewelry and the pharaoh typically had animal skins as decoration.
Unlike today, men and women both wore makeup. They had green and blue eye shadow and for special occasions. The lined their eyes in black kohl to help protect their eyes from the bright sunlight. The dark liner would reflect the sun away from their eyes.