Style Destination: Greece

If you’re not a golden girl, then dressing like a Grecian may not be your newest favorite style. Since ancient empires ruled the city-states, Greece’s native garb has been adorned with precious metals.  But more than the mother source of fashion jewelry, the all-encompassing “Golden Age of Athens” has seen a great following throughout history in architecture, drama, science and philosophy. This unprecedented birth of contagious culture was destined to reach the eyes and ears of the world, eager to imitate.

Despite an unending sequence of invasions and domination by the Macedonians, the Romans, the Byzantine Empire, plus 400 years of Ottoman rule, dictatorship, and economic poverty, the people remain strong. Their rich history has continued to influence business, family, and religious life as well as the evolved traditional costume. Many roots of this fashion can be traced to the ancient Greek costume modified by Byzantine influence, with Turkish elements added during the Ottoman rule.

Styles vary between mainland Greece and its surrounding islands, but most variation contains similar source elements. These include remnants of the ancient draped garment with basic construction made up from native materials. Layers are important to Grecian women, as are bright colors, with gold jewelry used to signify a wealthy status.

Here’s a look blending two well-known costumes: the Crete and the Karagouna (the traditional wedding dress). Antique markets have ethnic textiles to either drape or sew into skirts if you’re having trouble finding these locally. Remember bright colors…even bright whites! Pillage thrift stores and secondhand shops for costume jewelry. Ross and Marshalls carry great, inexpensive clutches. Farmers’ markets might even carry fun headscarves.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 9.14.29 AM

  • For starters, pick a patterned white top. The fabric should be soft and/or thin. Greece has a warm climate so short sleeves or sleeveless aren’t quite traditional, but definitely practical.

  • Next find a bright red skirt that has multi-colored designs and patterns. If it includes the colors blue and gold, even better! Keep the waist fitted, with an A-line drop. The fabric should be light but full, and if it’s two-toned, even better…it will look like the traditional apron layer.

  • Bring in a bit of the traditional black velvet Crete vest with a modern black blazer as your new “fall coat.”

  • Your feet should be traditional, so go with simple black flats.

  • Here’s the important part: gold accessories. Keep necklaces long. Use gold medallion earrings and trade your usual bangle for a gold medallion ring. More than chunky, think “tastefully regal,” without the gems.

  • Your hair should fade away into the bright colors, so keep the style easy but use a red headscarf in the style of Karagouna’s light pattern, again bringing in a little bit of blue if possible.

  • Keep attention on your colors by carrying a simple, bright clutch. Ideally, blue, which echoes the Greek flag and throws a “pop!” into your red.

  • Finally, Greek women typically have plump red lips. Just go easy; you don’t want to look like a streetwalker.

And you thought Greece was only good for its white coastal villages against the bright blue ocean!