What Was a Girdle in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, a girdle was a common accessory worn by women. It was a piece of cloth or leather that was wrapped around the waist and fastened with a buckle or knot. The purpose of the girdle was to cinch in the waist and create an hourglass figure.

The History of the Girdle

The use of girdles can be traced back to ancient times, where they were worn by both men and women. In ancient Egypt, girdles were made from linen and were used to hold up the kilt-like garment worn by men. They were also used by women to hold up their dresses.

In ancient Greece, girdles were primarily worn by women as a fashion statement. They were made from a variety of materials including leather, wool, and linen. Some girdles were plain and functional while others were highly decorated with jewels and embroidery.

The Function of the Girdle

The main function of the girdle in ancient Greece was to create an attractive figure. Women were expected to have small waists and wide hips, which was seen as a sign of beauty and fertility. The girdle helped to achieve this look by pulling in the waist and accentuating the hips.

However, there were also practical reasons for wearing a girdle. Women often wore long dresses that could be heavy and cumbersome. The girdle helped to support the weight of the dress and prevent it from dragging on the ground.

Greek Mythology

Girdles also played an important role in Greek mythology. The goddess Aphrodite was said to wear a magical girdle that had the power to make men fall in love with her. This girdle was given to her by her mother, Dione, who was also a goddess.

Another famous myth involving a girdle is the story of Heracles and the Amazon queen Hippolyta. Heracles was sent to retrieve Hippolyta’s girdle as one of his twelve labors. The girdle was said to be a symbol of the Amazon’s power and was heavily guarded.

The Decline of the Girdle

The use of girdles declined in ancient Greece as fashion changed. During the Hellenistic period, women began to wear looser, flowing garments that did not require a cinched-in waist. The use of girdles also declined in ancient Rome, where women began to wear tunics and togas.

However, the girdle made a comeback in the Middle Ages when it was worn by both men and women as a way to hold up their clothing. It remained popular until the 20th century when it was replaced by modern undergarments such as bras and corsets.


In conclusion, a girdle was a common accessory worn by women in ancient Greece. It was primarily used to create an attractive figure but also had practical uses such as supporting heavy dresses. The use of girdles declined over time but remains an important part of fashion history.