Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome
Clothing was not in any way a practical necessity in Ancient Egypt. Egypt (and most of the rest of North Africa) was not the mainly desert country it is today, subject to the temperature extremes that a dry climate engenders. Then it was a lush, food-producing country, subject to annual flooding, and a warm, humid climate. Clothing was therefore a luxury item of no great practical value. Slaves and the poor in surviving Ancient Egyptian art are therefore usually depicted in little more than loincloths. As people went up the social scale more clothing and jewelry was worn, but even then the drapery of the clothing is light and designed more to accentuate the shape of the body than conceal it. The most elaborate Egyptian clothing was worn by the Pharaohs and their queens as symbols of power.
It is thought by some that royal Egyptians practiced body modification by wrapping the sculls of infants and altering the head shape to be more egg like than rounded in adulthood, others ascribe this to a natural genetic fluke in the royal family. Aristocratic Egyptians also often shaved their heads (and other body hair) and wore wigs instead of natural hair to formal occasions. Kohl eye makeup was worn by both sexes, as were perfumes and body oils. (see Egyptian Cosmetic Items) During banquets, guests wore small mounds of beeswax impregnated with perfumed oil on top of their wigs; these mounds would melt into the wigs with the heat of the room, releasing scent, during the course of the party. Jewelry was the dominant costume focus, worn by both sexes; numerous examples of Ancient Egyptian jewelry survive in museums (see Jewels of a Princess, Tutankhamun’s Treasures , Necklace with Amulets, and Jewelry). Clothing has been less fortunate in survival, but linen textile scraps remain to indicate that the mostly white pleated materials that are shown in Ancient drawings were probably fine linens. These pleated linen garments are usually depicted as straight pieces of cloth, pleated to give a body-hugging stretch, that are wrapped in a variety of ways and tied or tucked in front.