A Stone Age Fashion Guide for KS2 Students
Updated: Feb 1
Unlike Hollywood would like to have us believe, Stone Age people did not go around wearing fur undies and little else!
Historians believe that humans may have started wearing clothing some 500,000 years ago. It was very cold during this era thanks to plentiful ice Ages, so prehistoric fashionistas would be clad head to toe in many layers of warm fur and leather.
At this early stage, the animal hides would not be trimmed or stitched to fit the wearer's body - instead, they would be more like blankets that were wrapped around the body and held in place by leather strips used like straps.
Just make sure you clean the animal’s hide out first – icky!
Later, Stone Age humans started using a sharp, pointed tool called an Awl. The Awl was used to punch holes through the animal hides so that straps or cordage could be weaved through and used like laces to bring together the sides of the hide around the body. Stone Age people had to wait another 5000 years before the invention of the first ever needle to help make tailoring clothes a little easier!
The oldest shoe ever found is approximately 5,500 years old (from the Neolithic or "new" Stone Age). Found in a cave in Armenia, the shoe was about 24cm in length (approximately the size of a UK women's size 5 shoe) and was perfectly sculpted around the wearer's foot.
From this and other shoes found from the Stone Age (such as the second oldest shoe ever found, worn by Otzi the Ice Man), we can learn that Stone Age footwear was likely to be made of a single piece of leather made from cowhide, deer or bear skin.
The leather was either kept in place on the foot with a wraparound leather strap or, as in the case with the Armenian shoe, laced up through holes at the front and the back.
The shoes probably weren't reinforced on the sole, so they wouldn't be very comfortable to walk in. Historians are unsure whether the grass stuffed into the Armenian shoe might have been used to add padding to the base of the shoe or to keep the wearer's foot warm.
Survival was very difficult in the Stone Age, but that didn’t mean ancient humans only wanted to wear boring furs – they wanted to look good too!
Around 75,000 years ago humans had made the first necklaces by stringing together shells. But they didn’t stop there, soon they were creating all sorts of jewellery, including bracelets, pendants and hair pins. Bracelets and necklaces featured beads made from animal bones, teeth (yep, sometimes human teeth!), shells and stones. The beads were sometimes carved into shapes or decorated with patterns.
Loving learning about the Stone Age? Then you'll definitely want Imagining History to bring their 'A Handy Guide to Survive the Stone Age' Interactive workshop to your school.
Our Award-Winning sessions combine role-play, storytelling, demonstrations and drama and performance to bring history to life for your students.