The Aesthetics of Dress

It has been remarked  upon that Hellenics don’t particularly have preferred fashion in clothing, which I found to be a bit of a strange remark since most polytheistic groups don’t seem to express a particular orientation in fashion with the exception of some costuming in reinactment (era-appropriate) clothes for particular events. Otherwise our tastes tend to be as individual as you would find among any religious group. Even those groups which have religious doctrines which determine how you dress, I have never seen any evidence of religious dress fashions.

There of course was a response to this in which modern dresses that were inspired by Hellenic design could be taken up as fashion if we consider the aesthetics behind the ancient preference of using simple drapes of rectangular cut fabric. This of course was very interesting for me personally because I do aesthetically prefer dresses of rectangular cut, specifically enjoying traditionally arabic styles in their caftans. I have several dresses in my closet of this style and very much enjoy the simple elegant drape of the fabric which is flattering on any body type in my experience. But not only is it flattering but it is comfortable!

Such dresses can be altered in material that are climate appropriate, where the fabric can be cut from thicker fabrics and layered for a colder climate or made of thinner breathable fabric for warmer places (much of which is employed in traditional caftans since they are coming from a desert environment). They are also practical being non constrictive in one’s movement, but can also be belted up for practical purposes when you need to clean or move even more unhindered without being any less attractive. Now I also layer loose pants or leggings under my caftans for extra comfort (and in the winter for additional warmth too) though in the summer I will go without when the heat is high. Therefore a simple rectangular (breathable) fashion is not only flattering and graceful, but it also serves greater practical purposes. And though I would be less comfortable wearing a traditional unsewn belted chiton, its more modern cousins and sewn adaptions can be a practical addition to one’s wardrobe that is not out of place.

To be honest I wear caftans all of the time with the exception of when I have to go to my day job. I even go shopping in them and have always been complimented on them. I even have a special one which I wear specifically for festivals because it is so pretty. Despite its Arabic decoration, there is little to persuade me to not wear it. I have sewn imitations of chitons before and when it comes right down to it, the style and feel of the caftan is very very much like that of the chiton, with its main differences in the decorative elements and patterns. Now if I ever get around to getting my own loom I would love to make my own fabrics for dresses. In any case the designs on the caftans are lovely and don’t speak of religiosity but of beauty of form (being largely geometric and swirling patterns). If I can get to weaving though I would love to develope beautiful fabrics with Hellenic themes. Someday anyway 🙂


5 thoughts on “The Aesthetics of Dress

  1. I still go back and forth with my dressing. I suspect I always will. Ideally I’d like to be dressing in long skirts and loose shirts. For my job, I wear loose pants and loose tops. I say because it’s easier, but when i’m being honest it’s because everyone else wears pants and I have a hard time standing out. It’s hard enough (still!!) to wear my headcovering to work. (Though I did finally get my ID done, and they didn’t bat an eye at the headcovering. Had to take my glasses off, though, and was that ever fun. “look at this little point here.” Uh. Legally blind, can barely see the whole camera never mind the shutter, people.) I regularly look at caftans but shy away. Don’t ask me why. Skirts I can handle. dresses make me feel exposed. Which makes no sense, I know. Where do you get yours?

    • When not at work I do loose and flowing.. I wear the ugly kaki slacks at work because that is part of the uniform with the ugly blue shirt. I don’t have any pants at all that I wear at home without a loose dress over them…and these are leggings or loose pants. I don’t think I even own a pair of blue jeans anymore. The scarves I always wear during ritual but go on and off wearing in public. Sometimes lately it has just been a matter of whether or not I am in the mood and I don’t know how my employer would react to it either. Even though a scarf is very practical in keeping my hair out of my way and keeping the head both cool and warm (whether protecting it from the hot sun or the cool wind).
      Caftans are really less like dresses and more like comfortable robes. They can be belted (and should be for any activity in which you prefer to not to take the chance tripping over the hem lol…like walking outside and cleaning). There are alot of beautiful ones available online. I haven’ tordered any online yet because I have got most of mine from Morocco. But here is an sample link of place I would love to buy from soon:

      • I could get away with a longer skirt at work, if I could just gather my courage. Pants, though, are easier for work, too, I’ve found. Less under-garment needy? I wear leggings with skirts, summer and winter, and they’re hard to come by, some wearing them only on weekends is easiest. Although, when I’m home I’m in lounging clothes. It’s easiest with all the beasties.

        I also no longer have blue jeans. I can barely stand pants that aren’t elastic in the waist, at this point.

      • This true, though with winter setting in and seeing how many people are buying thermal underwear I have to wonder if wearing pants doens’t end up being just as under-garment needy as skirts lol. That said with wearing a caftan I view it more as wearing leggings/loose pants with a really big robey shirt so perhaps this minimalizes my impression of much undergarments lol. But I do have skirts and nice shirts that I wear every now and then too that I wear if I am going somewhere where a more professional dress is more appropriate.
        I have found that the easiest time to get leggings is in the fall and spring at kmart or walmart myself. There are alot of them and the price is reasonable too.
        And I am right with you about elastic waists! I like to be comfortable and be able to move without much restriction.

  2. Pingback: More on Pagan Modesty « Strip Me Back To The Bone

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