What were the major differences between how Greek men and women wore their chitons? Explain the reasons behind these differences.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While both men and women wore the Chiton, one significant different was how it hung off the body.  For men, the Chiton was knee high, or hovering just above the knees.  This enabled men to be flexible in the Chiton.  If horse riding was required, or even walking in a stately manner, having the tunic not go beyond the knees enabled movement in a much easier and graceful manner.  One can almost imagine a comfort and freedom as Greek men wearing the Chiton discussed political notions of reality or aesthentic notions of art, walking as they engaged in free discourse.

For women, the chiton was draped well below the knees.  This covered most of the body for the women.  At the same time, a shawl called a "himation" was an accessory to the women's wearing of the Chiton that men did not have.  The women's use of the Chiton concealed more of the woman.  This reflected a condition of women in Greece that kept them more internal and more domestic than their male counterparts.  Greek women enjoyed a life that was kept apart from the political and philosophically external world of the men.  The draping of the Chiton over the woman's body, covering most of it to the outside world,  helps to convey such a notion.