Ancient Roman Clothing

Ancient Roman Clothing: Tunics

roman clothing

The tunic, a garment for both men and women, was worn by all Romans.

Tunics mostly consisted of two rectangular pieces of woollen material, joined at the shoulders, which hung down to knee level. Both sides were closed, apart from the openings at the sleeves. They were usually made of undyed wool. Tunics were bound at the waist by a belt or a piece of rope.

Ancient Roman Clothing: Toga

roman clothing togaThe Roman Toga
The most well-known garment for Roman men was the toga, which of course was worn over the tunic. In principle, all freeborn men were permitted by law to wear a toga. However, it was usually only men from the upper classes – the “chosen people” – who wore a toga. Senators dressed in a toga as they fulfilled their stately duties and went to the Senate. Putting on a toga was not so simple. The fabric was wound around the body in two layers and artistically draped over the shoulders in many folds. Accordingly, the toga was often replaced by the pallium, a kind of coat, however, this was frowned upon in certain circles.

The garment that finally replaced the toga was the simple tunic, worn by both men and women: plain, shirt-like, made of two sewn-together pieces of wool or linen, usually white. Worn both day and night. When relaxing at home, the belt was slackened. In winter, several tunics were worn on top of each other. (Emperor Augustus sometimes wore four).

Ancient Roman Clothing: Stola

roman clothing stolaRoman Stola
The stola was a special type of tunic for women, worn mainly by upper-class matrons and sometimes ornamented with purple trim at the bottom. This was made from a type of wild silk.

Ancient Roman Clothing: Underwear

roman clothing underwearRoman women’s underwear
Naturally, women wore underwear beneath their tunics: a loincloth and a kind of binding cloth around the bust. Women from the general population were not allowed to not wear the stola, but probably wouldn’t have had the money for such expensive clothes in any case.

Ancient Roman Clothing: Pallium / Palla

roman clothing pallium togaRoman toga and palla
In the Imperial period, the tunic was replaced by a type of coat, the pallium for men and the palla for women. This type of coat, adopted from the Greeks, was easy to throw over the shoulders and mostly ankle-length. The most popular colour was purple.

Ancient Roman Clothing: Paenula

For bad weather, there was also a type of poncho, the paenula. Complete with hood, a funnel-shaped weatherproof garment without sleeves, made from coarse woollen cloth. Even ordinary folk could afford a paenula. In Roman society, where social standing was reflected by status symbols and outer appearances, the gap between rich and poor in Rome was mirrored in their clothing. This was effected through pomp, unconventionality and consciously attracting attention.

roman clothing womanRoman women
Well, nothing much has changed over the millennia




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