Roman fashions did not change much over
the centuries, but they did vary regionally. In general, children
wore smaller versions of adult clothing.
The toga was the formal garment of a male citizen, originally worn
alone but later donned draped over a tunic. It was an expensive,
fine piece of fabric of heavy white wool. It required frequent
cleaning. It was roughly semi-circular, approximately 18 feet wide
and 7 feet deep. It was draped in a complicated manner over a body.
Several emperors had to issue decrees ordering its use on public
The oldest representations of togas date toward the later republic
and show the toga exigua, a short, simple version of the garment.
Toward the end of the republic, the design became more complex,
incorporating the sinus (drapes falling from the left shoulder to
the right thigh, utilized as a pocket or brought up over the right
shoulder as a sling) and the umbo (a projecting mass of folds in
front of the body able to pulled up over the head to form a hood.)
Different types of togas were worn by people of different social
- Toga Praetexta: Characterized by
a purple stripe, worn by curule magistrates as well as boys
until the age of 15 or 16.
- Toga Virilis: The plain toga of a
typical citizen. Worn by boys after age 15 or 16.
- Toga Picta: A crimson toga
embroidered with gold, donned by victorious generals in
triumphal processions and the emperors.
- Toga Candida: A toga given a
shiny, glossy look by rubbing it with chalk, worn by people
running for public office.
- Toga Pulla: Made of natural black
wool and worn in funerals.
Senatorial togas had a large purple stripe (latus clavus).
Equestrians wore a toga with a narrow purple stripe (clavus angustus).
The basic garment of a Roman male, however, was the short-sleeved
tunic, worn tied around the waist with a belt. It was normally worn
indoors, as well as by slaves and children. Long tunics with sleeves
were considered effeminate. Extra tunics were worn in colder
weather. Senators and equestrians wore tunics with broad and narrow
purple stripes, respectively, running from soldier to hip on both
sides. Tunics worn by charioteers were dyed the color of their
The dalmatic (dalmatica) was originally a short-sleeved or
sleeveless tunic, but by the empire it had long sleeves. It was made
of wool, linen, or silk, and worn by people in high position and
later as an ecclesiastical garment.
Some calvarymen and soldiers wore trousers, but in general it was
thought that long woolen trousers (braca) were uncouth, worn by
barbarians outside the empire.
Capes and cloaks are also known to exist, made from either wool or
leather, sometimes with hoods, such as the palla, lacerna, paenula,
caracallus, cucullus, sagnum, and byrrus.
Beards were fashionable in early Rome, but did not become popular
again until the time of Hadrian. There were many barbers.
Women originally wore togas like the men, but later this practice
was confined to prostitutes and women of ill repute. Therefore,
women wore tunics. Married women wore a stola over the tunic, a
long, full dress gathered up by a high belt with a colored border
around the neck. It could also gathered at the shoulder with a
brooch, and was considered the main outergarment of a Roman woman.
Wealthy women wore clothes of rich colors and fine materials, such
as muslin and silks. Some areas also saw women wearing close fitting
bonnets and hair nets. Women also wore a palla, a long shawl made of
woolen goods for outdoor wear.
As fair as their hair goes, women could do anything! Hair could be
dyed golden red or black. the hairdresser could skillfully use a
curling iron for ringlets and crude scissors. She could also use
oils and tonics to hurry growth and add both softness and luster. In
the late 1st century and early 2nd century high-piled hairstyles of
curls and plaits became popular. By the mid 2nd century, less
elaborate plaits and waives were adapted. Hair was usually styled at
home by slaves. Dyes were used, and blond hair was fashionable.
Black hair wigs were imported from India and blond ones from
In terms of makeup, a woman's face powder was a mixture of powdered
chalk and white lead. Rouge for cheeks and lips was acher or the
lees of wine. Eyebrows and eyelashes were blackened with ashes or
powdered antimony, and teeth glistened with enamel. A lady chose her
jewels, a diadem of precious stones for the hair, earrings, at least
one necklace, rings for her fingers, bracelets for her wrists, and
circlets for her ankles.
A woman was typically accompanied by two slaves, one with a parasol.
Various types of leather shoes and boots were worn, from heavy
hobnailed varieties to light sandals and slippers. A carlatina was a
sandal made from one piece of leather with a soft sole and openwork
upper fastened by a lace. A soccus has a sole without hobnails and a
separate leather upper. A calceus was a hobnailed shoe secured by
laces. A solea was a simple sandal with a thong between the toes and
a hobnailed sole. A caliga, worn by soldiers, was a heavy sandal
with a hobnailed sole and separate leather upper fastened by thongs
(the emperor Caligula's name means little boots). Shoes could also
be made of wood.
Women typically wore sandals similar to those of men, but they were
of softer, finer leather. Winter shoes were often cork-soled.
Sometimes the soles were thickened to provide the illusion of
height. Women did not wear stockings, but rather strips of woolen
cloth wrapped around their legs if needed./x-tad-bigger>/fontfamily>
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