COSTUME. and especially usage, habit or appearance in dress, etc.), a term now restricted to external dress its and modes. The history of costume is an exceed ingly difficult one to trace in any accurate detail, owing to the difficulty of interpreting the vague and scanty notices on the subject which we can collect from the earlier writers. The most interesting and profitable thing will be to at tempt to work out certain general lines of development, leaving minute questions to anti quarians who have made a special study of the subject, as far as anything can be accurately known about it. It must be observed that our earliest indications on the subject come from warm or semi-tropical countries; thus elimi nating as far as possible the factor in the devel opment of clothes which originates in the necessity of protection against the weather. Considerations of modesty, which may be re garded as the outgrowth either of specifically Christian hr of other highly civilized conditions, according to the point of view, appear only in a rudimentary form. The development in early times is regulated largely by the desire to make the dress tell something of the position or rank of the wearer. Thus the earliest distinction as to the amount of clothing prescribed by cus tom seems to have been that the wearing of many clothes was a mark of rank, while the lower classes were content with a very scanty covering. This would follow since the nobles had in those days very slight need for active exertion; while practical considerations would dictate the minimizing of the garments which might hamper those whose employments re quired free movement of the limbs.
The early Egyptians seem to have worn little besides an apron or loin-cloth; under the later dynasty it was extended into a long skirt, which was combined with the jacket that had been sometimes worn to form a complete garment. The women wore the ca/asiris, a shirt with short sleeves or none at all. Light and frequently transparent materials seem to have been most commonly used. For a headdress, both sexes
wore what is known as the sphinx-cap. Here, as elsewhere, however, ordinarily people paid very little attention to dress; kings, priests and other officials were distinguished by elaborate vestures. Under the Ptolemies Greek costume was generally introduced. The Assyrians cov ered more of the body than the Egyptians and used heavier stuffs — cotton, linen, wool and possibly silk, introduced from China. They wore a long shirt with short sleeves, and con fined at the waist. For the upper classes this was bright-colored and ornamented with heavy fringes. Sandals were worn. The king was distinguished by a purple mantle and a white cylindrical cap. The Persian costume was gen erally tight-fitting, consisting mainly of a short coat and trousers (which seem to have origi nated very early in Central Asia), often made of leather. When they conquered the Medes, they adopted very generally the dress of the latter, which was loose and usually woolen. The leather breeches remained in use among the lower classes.
The Greek costume was characterized by ueat simplicity and fell into graceful folds. The principal parts of it were an undergarment called the chiton and a sort of cloak known as himation which, when folded over the shoul ders, ultimately originated a separate garment, the diptoidion. Men wore the chlamys, a short cloak for the more active occupations to which the peplos of the women partly corresponded. White was the usual (though not, as formerly believed, the exclusive) color of Greek gar ments; the material was most usually woolen among the Dorians and linen with the Ionians. Silk was introduced rather late from Asia and employed to make the semi-transparent robes for which the island of Cos was famous. Orien tal luxury increased as time went on, until in the Byzantine period, while clothes retained much the same shape, costly material and rich ornamentation distinguished them.