Men in Ancient Rome are pretty well known to have worn togas. But what college frat boys don’t seem to understand is that these are overclothes. Underneath, men wore tunics–think two pieces of cloth sown up the sides, with a neck hole in the top. There was some Roman dude whose name escapes me who horrified society by not following the customs with his tunics. I can’t remember if he went out without them sometimes or dyed them funny colors . . . maybe both.
Romans were really proud of their togas, though. Senators had special markings on them so everyone would know at a glance how important they were. Those of the higher classes had really extravagant togas, though servants’ would be shorter and less cumbersome. In Virgil’s Aeneid, he refers to Rome as “that civiliation of proud toga-wearers.”
Women also wore tunics, or, to jazz it up a bit, a Greek chiton, which is similar but has sleeves that are held closed at intervals with clasps. (Oddly, we call that kind of sleeve “roman,” though the Greeks did it first.) When a woman married, she had the option to wear a stola, the female counterpart of the toga, but not all did. They were hard to handle and not very flattering.
Women being women (come on, you know it’s true!) they weren’t about to let their figures go unnoticed. They would drape, tie, belt, and loop their tunics and stolas to show off their curves.
Since they favored undyed wool (especially for stolas), ladies made up for the plainness by having extravagant hairstyles, headdresses, and jewelry.
And if you think makeup’s a modern invention, you’re waaaaay off. Women have been painting their faces pretty much since the dawn of time, and Roman women were no exception.
This is one of the sites on these fashions that I have bookmarked.
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