Chlaina and Diplax

During the Classical Period of Greece (500–336 B.C.E. ) typical clothing was largely made up of woven rectangles of fabric, usually wool or linen, which were draped in different ways about the body. It was how a piece of cloth was used, rather than the design of the piece itself, which gave it its name. Though most forms of classical Greek clothing were worn by both men and women, there were a few items that were intended to be used mainly by one sex or the other. The chlaina and the diplax were two forms of outer clothing primarily worn by women. They were both types of cloaks, which were wrapped around the body for warmth and protection. The chlaina was usually worn by women at work, who draped the long fabric as a protective overskirt around their hips, often over the chiton, or tunic, they wore. The diplax, which gets its name from the Greek word for "double," was usually larger than the chlaina and was wrapped around the shoulders over the chiton for warmth and modesty. Another name sometimes given to the diplax was "cholene."

Like many Greek clothes, the chlaina and diplax were sometimes designed with decorative geometric patterns around the borders or dyed in bright colors. Metal weights were also often sewn into the corners of these garments to help the wearer drape them more beautifully.


Pistolese, Rosana, and Ruth Horsting. History of Fashions. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1970.

Symons, David. Costume of Ancient Greece. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

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