For Kids: The people of ancient India wore some of the same garments that are worn in India today. In the north, the dhoti was popular. This was a very long cloth that was draped around the lower body and legs and tied at the waist. In the south, the women wore a sari. A sari is a long piece of cloth that is wrapped around both the upper and lower body. When worn correctly it is very elegant. As long ago as the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, thousands of years ago, clothes were made of cotton and dyed in bright colors. In fact, India was the first place that cotton was grown to make fabric. Later on wool and linen were also used to make fabrics.
Both men and women wore jewelry in ancient times as well as today. They made beads from painted clay, strung together to forms necklaces and bracelets. They also used metals. Bangle bracelets were very popular. They used flowers to make jewelry. Jewelry was decorated with different designs in different regions. These designs are still in use today.
Ancient paintings found in caves show men and women with colored make-up on their foreheads and the palms of their hands. Women wore lipstick. This could be religious in nature or simply part of daily life. We still don't know.
When Alexander the Great invaded India, some of his men noted how people dressed in written records from that time. They noted that the Indian people used parasols as sun screens. Some wore leather shoes, built up to make the wearer seem taller. Only wealthy people appeared to wear earrings. Most people did not wear earrings at all. Of great interest to Alexander the Great's men was that Indian men dyed their beards white, dark blue, red, purple, and even green!
Dying clothes, and it would appears at some points in India's history, dying beards as well, was practiced as an art form. Fabrics were made in solid colors, and also woven in various colorful designs. As with jewelry, designs belonged to various regions.
Ancient India was part of the Silk Road, the travel routes between the Roman Empire and ancient China, that began during China's Han Dynasty. Indian textiles were in high demand both in China and in the Roman Empire, and still are in demand around the world.