Costumes and Dress

The 3,000 island-archipelago of Greece, while large and separated by bodies of water, embodies central traditions of dress and costume. Each of these aspects of their culture have not only maintained their presence within Greece, but have also permeated throughout parts of Astoria, Queens.1 

Courtesy of GoEmpireMovers.

Image courtesy of GoEmpireMovers

Let us delve into the realms of a world established long ago: the era of the Byzantines.

An outline of the Byzantine Empire

An outline of the Byzantine Empire. Image courtesy of Cristalinks: The Byzantine Empire

It is in this era that Greeks truly formed a distinct form of fashion. This fashion, as we will come to know, has evolved over 1500 years into the traditional Greek costumes and dress we know today. Not only has it evolved, but it has taken different forms in different parts of the world. I hope to touch upon how this fashion has permeated into American culture and how it has maintained its presence in its homeland, Greece.2

Let’s begin with the basics. As many historians have concluded, Greeks have created the platforms for some of our most renowned educational topics, such as mathematics, philosophical reasoning and architectural design. Similarly to the logic they possessed in an underdeveloped world, they created their fashion with functionality in mind.3

Single-piece garments were intricately styled to fit certain occasions, but always maintained its simplicity. Especially in the hot Grecian sun, draped fabric was perfect for keeping cool. Some of these single-piece garments include the peplus, the himation, the strophion, and the ever-traditional chiton.

The fabric composing these dresses were often spun within the home. After the fabric was created, all that was needed to make the outfit complete was a few pins, and possibly a pair of sandals. While some of the fabrics were made to be plain, many were dyed and ordained with patterns.2

Courtesy of The Ancient Greek Costume

Image courtesy of The Ancient Greek Costume

These outfits have evolved into karagounas (traditionally worn by women) and fustanellas (traditionally worn by men).


Traditional Karagouna. Image courtesy of Market

The first layer of a karaguona is a light, white dress with a thick, black fringe hem. The dress is then typically covered with a red colored wool coat and apron that are adorned with intricate embroidery. To finish the look, a head kerchief is wrapped and then twisted about the head.


Traditional Fustanella. Image courtesy of Economic and Cultural Studies

A foustanella, or a tsolias, consists of a pleated white skirt and a white shirt with wide flowing sleeves. This base is covered with either a blue, black or maroon velvet vest. The costume is completed with a pair of white tights and pointed shoes with pompoms, known as Tsarouhia.4

Some of these costumes are designed and sold in Astoria, Queens.

For over 25 years, Traditional Greek Costumes of Astoria has been handcrafting fashions for all occasions: performances, weddings and other religious ceremonies. The website associated with the store is built to accommodate both Greek and/or English speaking customers. This is just one of many supporting facts of Greek costume and dress being assimilated with the technological realm                                               of the United States.5

Evzones guarding the tomb of an unknown soldier

Evzones guarding the tomb of an unknown soldier. Image courtesy of Windmills Tours

In America, these costumes are used mainly for cultural parades, religious ceremonies and performances. In Greece, the reasons for wearing the costumes are the same. However, in Greece, soldiers (better known as Evzones) that guard the Parliament building in Athens and other historical landmarks wear them year-round.6

Today, Greek clothing has evolved into the simplest of fashions: from blouses and skirts to trousers and polos. The evolution of Greek dress is a true example of how ancient times and their characteristics are kept within the heart of cultural celebrations, but every-day modernization still exists both in Greece and in America.7

Modern day Greek fashion

Modern day Greek fashion. Image courtesy of Colors of Greek Culture


Author: Kristen Cournane