Ancient Times Costume Ideas

Ancient Times Character Costume Ideas

It started off with Toga parties back in the 1960s/1970s, when white cotton sheets were easy to find, but since then the Ancient Times theme has developed enormously. There are now many different variations of the toga on the market, several looking more like robes and dresses, rather than the original shaped wrapped garment. Some of these are named after particular gods, goddesses and characters from Greek and Roman history. Not quite so easy to find are costumes from other ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, apart from one main exception that of Cleopatra.

As a general rule, clothing often denoted status. For example in Egypt, slaves and attendants wore basic, minimal clothing. The poor used linen or cotton-style cloths, whilst the rich had more exotic and sheer fabrics for their ‘simple’ clothes which were dictated by the climate. The theory was that the more see-through the fabric, the richer the wearer. Although coloured fabrics featured in Egyptian clothing, the one colour apparently never used was red, the colour sacred to death.

Here are some examples of the types of costume and characters you can go as with an Ancient Times theme.

AmazonA female archer and warrior. Think Xena, The Warrior Princess or Red Sonja from the film of the same name.

Ancient BritonFair hair and skin were much desired by the Romans and some Ancient Britons found themselves heading to Rome as slaves. For a more aggressive look, the Britons were famed for their use of blue woad body-designs and chest-length blue-dyed hair moustaches in an (unsuccess­ful) attempt to scare the Romans.

Attila the HunHe was one of several barbarians who took their fight back to Rome in the early stages of the Christian calendar. To get the look, you need trousers, a belted leather long tunic (an early coat), a large bronze helmet and a cloak of animal hide/fur (nowadays fake).  Huns and other tribes (Goths, Visigoths, Vandals) were collectively called Barbarians, due to their being hairier than the mostly clean-shaven Romans. For an alternative look why not try a Visigoth? They had red-dyed hair, bison-horn headdresses and wool and animal-skin tunics (plus jewelled swords).

CaesarThere were, of course, several Caesars but Julius is possibly best known.  The costume here can either be the purple toga and laurel-leaf headdress approach, or the military helmet and battle-dress as used in his conquests.  Other Emperors included Augustus; Constantine; Hadrian (he of the wall); Marcus Aurelius and Nero.

Caveman or WomanNeanderthal man wore animal skins to keep warm and were generally of unkempt appearance. 

Cleopatra – Possibly one of the most famous Egyptians from ancient times. It is still the Elizabeth Taylor version from the 1963 film that epitomises the Cleopatra look.  This is one Egyptian costume where there are many versions available. We also have a great selection of Cleopatra Accessories to complement our costumes, including snake headdresses, armbands and belts.

Druid – White hooded robes and symbolic oak and/or mistletoe headdress or garlands.

GladiatorIn the tradition of Spartacus, the Gladiator epitomises both the nobility and brutality of the Roman Empire. Aside from the leather skirt of the Roman Centurion, breastplates, masks and helmets (plus weaponry) may be used.

HerculesGreek hero renowned for his strength. He was committed to Twelve Labours following one of his many misfortunes. Traditionally Hercules is dressed in lion skin (from slaying the Nemean Lion as his first labour) and carries a club.

Jason - One of the Greek heroes. His claim to fame was the retrieval of the Golden Fleece, with the help of the Argonauts and the sorceress Medea. Other heroes included Perseus, who slew Medusa the Gorgon; Achilles, hero of the Trojan War and Theseus who slew the Minotaur.

Marc Anthony –  Romantic rival with Julius Caesar for Egyptian Queen Cleopatra’s favours. The outfit is similar to the Gladiator costume.

MummyMummies hold a fascination, from Tutankhamun to the recent remake of  The Mummy films.  Note: A Mummy costume should not be made of real crepe or linen bandages unless sewn onto a base such as a body-suit.

Neferititi – The high Egyptian crown dates from a much older period than Cleopatra’s reign. A long white sheath dress completes the look.

PharaohRulers of Ancient Egypt.  As noted with Cleopatra and Nefertiti, clothing was simple, with most effort being put into elaborate jewellery, especially necklaces, earrings (for both sexes) and the shendot, an elaborate belt.  Symbols of office such as the crook, the flail and the Ankh (symbol of Life) may be carried.

Priest/PriestessMany Ancients had to make sacrifices to maintain their status, and these were just the people to do it for them.

Rameses – There were several Egyptian Pharoahs called Rameses.

Tutankhamun – This Egyptian Pharoah is probably one of the most famous to the Western World following the discovery of his almost intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922.

Greek (G) & Roman (R) Gods/Goddesses

The Ancients had Gods and Goddesses for almost all aspects of their lives, so there is a wide choice for potential characters.  Aside from the basic classical look (short curly hair for males, long flowing hair for females and togas or gowns) the god/goddess in question is best suggested by the props carried: Wine or grapes with vine-leaf headdress for Bacchus / Dionysius, an owl plus some books for Minerva / Athene, bow & arrow for  Diana / Artemis, etc..  There are costumes available which are named after various Gods and Goddesses.

  • Aphrodite (G) & Venus (R) (Love and Beauty)
  • Apollo (R) & Appollon (G)  (The Sun)
  • Ares (G) & Mars (R) (War)
  • Bacchus (R) & Dionysus (G) (Wine)
  • Cupid (R)  & Eros (G) (Love)
  • Hermes (G) & Mercury  (R)  (Messenger)
  • Hephaestus  (G) & Vulcan  (R)(Fire & Metal-Work)
  • Jupiter (R) & Zeus (G) (The Heavens and Skies)
  • Neptune (R)  & Poseidon (G) (The Sea)
  • Pan (G) (Countryside/Mischief)
  • Pluto   (R) & Pluton  (G) (The Underworld)

Egyptian Gods & Goddesses

More off the wall suggestions would be to go as one of the Egyptian Gods. This will probably require some improvisation on your part as the Egyptian Gods and Goddesses were often portrayed with animal heads. They also often had elaborate headdresses, symbolising their aspect of influence.

  • Bast is the female God of the sun, represented as a Cat.
  • Sekhmet is the female God of War, represented as a Lioness.
  • Anubis is the Messenger of the Gods, represented as a Jackal
  • Osiris  is the God of  The Underworld.
  • Amen-Ra is the God of The Heavens and Skies

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