Greek Kit on a budget

The second of our £30 classical kit challenges, we were very pleased for what we were able to achieve for under £20. Our aim here was to make the look as practical as possible, and to keep it visually distinct from the Roman look (for which see the Roman kit tutorial).

Low status Greek: tunic and cloak

Equipment needed:

  • a needle, or preferably access to a sewing machine
  • scissors
  • pins
  • iron

Materials needed

  • 1.5 metres of 5ft width cream/unbleached white cotton/polycotton. Do not pay more than £4 per metre, you can get it for £1 if you really try, or try charity shop bedsheets (mmm, prehemmed!) (You really want linen, but it tends to be too expensive, get linen if you want to spend more.) - We got some double-width polycotton for £3.50 per metre (i.e. about 10ft wide) which means you need less than a metre of length - £3
  • white thread - £1
  • Charity shop leather belt - £1
  • 3m of wool, linen, or any suitable heavy fabric. We were lucky and found some moleskin on sale at 99p a metre - £3
  • Charity shop brooch or cloak pin - 50p
  • TOTAL: £8.50

Fold your fabric down the middle so that when you cut the pieces they are symmetrical.

Cut out two pieces shaped like this, one for the front and one for the back (with a higher neckline on the back piece). Make it quite roomy, if it's too baggy round your shoulders and waist you can always take it in later. Do not forget to leave 1" seam allowance on every edge you sew.

If you like, cut it out more square, that is, don't angle the line outwards down towards the hip (Google "T tunic" for alternatives). But make sure you'll be able to walk in it! 

Pin the two peices together and sew the seam at the shoulders and sides under the arms. Don't sew the armholes shut! Hem the neckhole, arm holes, and bottom edge. 

That's it. Put it on and belt it.

Make sure to wear period footwear... (making leather sandals is covered elsewhere, or you could just buy some). Footwear might well be a sticking point for many of these costumes, so if it's wet or you only have army boots, think about wrapping your boots up under some scraps of cloth. 

We think it looks best pouched up over the belt as shown. 

To make the cloak, fold your fabric in half along its length to make a square. In the picture here, the right-hand and left-hand edges are the finished edge of the fabric. Draw a quarter circle (use a bit of string to keep the radius constant) and cut it out. If your fabric is going to fray then hem the curved edge.

Keep those scrap pieces, you can make pouches or leg coverings out of them. 

Get a brooch or cloak pin and pin it at the neck, so your head is in the middle of the straight edge of the semicircle. 

What a nice big warm cloak! You can play at being Batman in it too. 

You can wear the cloak lots of different ways, here, it's pinned so that you can pull up a loop of fabric and make a hood, and one 'wing' is thrown over the opposite shoulder. Cosy.

You don't even really need a pin. Simply pull one side down in front of you, like shown... 

...then chuck the other side over your opposite shoulder. It'll fall off every so often but is very toasty warm. 

Higher status Greek: chiton for a man or a woman

Extra materials needed

  • 4 metres of muslin (or any fabric that drapes really nicely and is sort of see-through - £10
  • an extra (preferably matching) charity shop brooch - 50p
  • 1.5m of cream curtain cord, maybe more if you're on the plump side - 50p?
  • TOTAL: £19.50

Chitons were worn by men and women. If you're a man, maybe wear it to knee length instead of ankle length? First, have a look at this website: How to make a Greek chiton.

Your fabric needs to be at least double your armspan length. You can also see how see-through it is. This looks great all draped, but for your dignity (and possibly our sanity) please wear the short tunic underneath! 

Fold about this much over, down the entire length. The folded over bit (or 'apotigma', as Jude insists on calling it) should come to about the middle of your torso. 

Here are two lovely matching brooches that we got for 50p each at an Asian jewellery shop. Charity shops are your friend, but you might have to do some legwork to get matching pins. 

Pin the two sides of the folded fabric together, leaving a nice large head hole. There is no sewing involved in this (unless your fabric is fraying and you need to hem the rough edges, this means that one side of the garment remains open. Please do consider wearing that tunic underneath! 

Tie the curtain cord around your waist. 

Pull up some of the fabric and pouch it over the cord at the waist. Fiddle with it 'til it looks good. 

And here it is, looking lovely and drapey. If you're going to be cold, wear the cloak over the top. 

To stop it sliding off your shoulders, pin the brooches to your tunic at the shoulders.

Alternatives and additions...

There are lots of options for Greek clothing and hairstyles on the web, have a look at some of them. Try adding a trim to the bottom edges of the chiton and apotigma.

Leather sandals are an obvious choice of footwear although you might want to get some pointy-bejewelled slippers from your local Asian clothing shop. They are cheap but don't hold up to British weather all that well...

Add a toga - there are plenty of tutorials on how to tie them online.

Tips and tricks

One of the issues with Odyssey will be keeping the Greek and Roman looks visually distinct. We recommend sticking to 'natural' colours for Greek costume: whites, browns, and golds. If you do use coloured fabric, keep it fairly pale and pastelly and avoid bright red. We also recommend erring on the side of simplicity and keeping more 'fussy' designs for the Romans.

Online Resources