The peplos developed from a protective garment—a hide or animal skin wrapped around the torso, fastened over the shoulders, and cinched with a belt. Smiths still wear a similar leather peplos to protect them from embers, and some hunters, archers, and other light troops wear a leather peplos as light armour. The hide of a game animal may be worn as a peplos e.g. when hunting.

The peplos consists of a large rectangle of cloth wrapped around the left side of the torso, secured on each shoulder with a fibula or brooch, and [usually] girdled around the waist. Active and working people wear them fairly short (above the knee). Elegant variations for indoors wear may be full-length. The peplos is usually pulled up through the girdle to produce a bloused effect. It is possible to reach inside the bosom of the peplos through the opening on the right side, so a peplos can be good for carrying concealed weapons etc.

An elegant variation is to fold the top of the cloth over before wrapping it around the body. This produces an overfold as in the picture on the right.

People wearing a peplos while engaged in active pursuits may remove the brooch or fibula on the left shoulder to free the left arm.


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.