Roman Fashion 101:
Roman clothing Myths!
- Myth 1: Everyone wore togas! The toga was a formal garment that was worn by male citizens, usually on business, therefore women and slaves couldn’t wear them. Basically, think of a toga as like a 3 piece suit, (which is probably how it felt to those men in the hot Mediterranean sun). Togas were very hot because they were made of wool. As the video below shows, many Romans couldn’t wait to get out of their togas and wear a simple tunic.
Myth 2: All Togas were white
In most movies, and pictures set in Rome, we see rooms full of men wearing white togas, especially in the Senate. However, togas gradually evolved into a variety of styles and colors and helped indicate a Roman man’s status and maturity.
Types of Togas and how to wear them:
Shakespeare makes reference to a specific type of toga called a Toga candida: "Bright toga"; a toga rubbed with white chalk to make it appear bright white. In Titus Andronicus, the title character is offered a toga candida by his brother Marcus, when the Senate nominates him for emperor: Marcus: Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome, Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been, Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust, This palliament of white and spotless hue; And name thee in election for the empire, With these our late-deceased emperor's sons: Be candidatus then, and put it on- Titus Andronicus, Act I, Scene i. There were many other types of togas for different occasions: - Dark colors were for funerals - Red and purple sleeves were for magistrates and senators - Purple togas with gold embroidery were for victorious generals, and later emperors
Manly garb: Toga virillis
A Toga virilis ("toga of manhood") also known as toga alba or toga pura was A plain white toga, worn on formal occasions by adult male commoners, and by senators not having a curule magistracy. It was a right of passage for young men to put on their toga virilis and assume adult male citizenship and its attendant rights, freedoms and responsibilities.
Like men, women most commonly wore tunics, especially when they were unmarried. When women married, they would don a long, elaborate garment called a Stola . The stola was a long dress held on by belts. Sometimes women decorated their Stolas with ribbons and they came in many colors. In the statue below, note how the belts below the breast drape the fabric into elaborate folds, and how the sleeves are slightly slashed on this sumptuous 1st century stola.
Read more at: https://www.ducksters.com/history/ancient_rome/clothing.php
Women’s Beauty Regimen
Since Roman women were not legally citizens and couldn’t hold employment, their hair, dress, and makeup were in a way, a celebration of idleness, especially in the case of upper-class women. Aristocratic Roman women had their hair done in elaborate shapes like the Flavian hairstyle and wore elaborate Stoas to indicate how they didn’t have to work or labor in the fields.
In a production of Julius Caesar or Coriolanus, the director could exploit this concept of idleness by giving the more passive characters like Calpurnia or Fulvia more elaborate hairdos and elaborate brightly colored Stolas, while the more active characters like Portia or Valumnia could have a more austere or less fussy hairstyle and dress to show that they are more interested in engaging in politics or the military than sitting around and looking pretty.
“The Romans – Clothing” History on the Net
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March 11, 2022 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/the-romans-clothing>
Ducksters. “Ancient Rome for Kids: Clothing and Fashion.” Ducksters, Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), http://www.ducksters.com/history/ancient_rome/clothing.php. Accessed 11 March 2022.
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