What Kind Of Clothes Did Jesus Probably Wear?

If you close your eyes and try to picture Jesus, chances are he's wearing a simple (possibly white) ankle-length robe, tied at the waist, and sandals. This is, after all, how he's been pictured for centuries, in paintings that also show him as a light-skinned man with long hair and a beard (probably wrong). But that is not actually how a Jewish citizen of first century Rome would have dressed.

For starters, his robe would have been a lot shorter than traditionally pictured. In Jesus' time, women wore tunics that ended at the ankles, while men generally wore tunics that ended at the knees, according to the BBC, though wealthy men might also wear long tunics. In the Book of Mark, Jesus is recorded as criticizing those men who wear longer styles of dress: "Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes [stolai], and to have salutations in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets." It's a good bet, then, that Jesus kept his robes short and simple.

Natural fabrics and simple footwear

On top of the robes, the people of ancient Israel would have worn a wool shawl, a himation, a kind of mantle, that might have been fringed with tassels to serve as a Jewish tallit, according to religion professor Joan Taylor at The Conversation. The Gospel of Mark says a woman touches the tassels of Jesus's himation to be healed by him. Women may have worn himations in brightly dyed colors, but it seems that the standard for men at the time was to wear undyed, unbleached shawls, according to the BBC. Jesus' robes were likely a natural color, and were apparently not white, since Mark tells a story about Jesus' clothes turning white while he prayed on top of a mountain.

One thing that depictions of Jesus do get right is the sandals. According to preserved sandals from that time, found in caves near the Dead Sea (via The Conversation), he likely wore extremely simple leather footwear, similar to today's flip-flops.