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Ancient Roman Clothing

Everyone uses clothes. We have seen progress from the first early humans using leaves as coverings to the present comfortable clothes you are wearing. Clothes are a necessary factor in today’s world. When you think of any place in the world, you instinctively think of the food people eat and the clothes they wear.

Clothes are a cultural identity for many regions all over the world. People associate their heritage with the kind of clothes their ancestors wore. In history books, everyone takes notice of the different kinds of clothes people used to wear. It is fair to say that along with the rest of the world, clothes have also undergone several changes over the years.

Clothes have been a colorful addition to the history of many places. People have been experimenting with wonderful colors and interesting styles since ancient times. Isn’t it exciting to learn about how people used to dress up in ancient times? Then let’s get to know more about them from a certain country in Europe!

Ancient Clothing Worn by Romans

The Roman Empire was one of the largest empires in the world, established in 27 BC. They were advanced in every way, including the fashion trends that existed.

Clothes worn by ancient Romans were very simple and did not consist of intricate designs. Most of them were made of wool as it was available across the country. Silk and cotton were imported from eastern countries. The clothes made from these materials were reserved for the wealthier classes.

The men wore clothing called Toga. it is a large piece of cloth draped over the body, leaving one arm free. Every citizen had to wear the Toga. It was the national dress. It came in different colors for different ranks and events.

The men also wore lighter clothing called Tunics. Tunics were worn under the toga for the citizens of Rome. Slaves and non-citizens wore only the tunics. Both men and women wore tunics.

Women wore traditional clothing called Stola. It was a long pleated dress held by belts and clasps. They wore it under the tunic and decorated it with colors. Both the genders wore cloaks over their clothes during cold weather. The cloaks for women were known as Palla.

The clothes were woven by the women of the house. The wool was spun into clothes. Women also had more colorful clothes than men. The Romans dyed their clothes in red, purple, indigo, yellow. They did not only wear white, much to the misconception recorded.

Ancient Clothing Worn by Roman children

In ancient Rome, infants were swaddled as soon as they were born. Swaddling is the practice of tightly wrapping newborns in clothes or blankets to restrict their movements. Roman children wore the same clothing as the adults in a smaller size. 

The boys wore a tunic that reached till their knees. They also wore a cloak that covered their heads in cold seasons. Boys from rich families wore purple-bordered tunics to show their class. 

The Roman boys changed their clothing once they turned into adults, according to Roman law. They were now required to wear a toga when they reached the age of 14-17.

Roman girls also wore tunics with a belt around their waist. They wore a second tunic which was longer outside of their homes. They wore cloaks as well. The girls in the Roman Empire were not allowed to wear the traditional female clothing Stola till they got married.

All children wore cloaks called Paludamentum which reached till their knees. They were fastened at the shoulders with clasps called Fibula. The cloaks had head coverings that protected them during bad weather.

Ancient Accessories Worn by Roman Children

A few days after their births, Roman children were handed a necklace with a pendant. They were amulets that were supposed to keep evil spirits away and protect the children. Once the children reached adulthood, they had to give away these amulets.

Roman boys were handed amulets called bulla which was worn around their necks. The bulla was a leather pouch with phallic symbols. Boys from rich families had the bulla made from gold. The symbols focused on the masculinity of the males. 

The girls were given similar charms as protection. They were given a crescent-shaped amulet called the lunula. They could hang it around their necks with chains, cords, or straps. The idea behind these amulets was that children were weak and vulnerable to diseases and evils. The amulets were a precaution to avoid such things.

The girls kept it on till they got married which was the age of 14-18. It was different for the boys. They had to keep it till they reached the age of 14-17. During that period, they had to wear the toga praetexta ( a symbol of approaching manhood). Once Roman boys reached manhood, they were to wear the toga virilis (known as toga of manhood).

What footwear did the Romans wear?

Romans wore sandals that were flat-soled. It means they did not have any height whatsoever. The sandals were made from leather. Men and women wore the same kind of sandals. They had two types of footwear worn by everyone. 

Romans wore indoor sandals with an open area around the toes called Solea. They wore outdoor shoes made from soft leather called Calcei. Soldiers in the military wore hard shoes called Caliga made to march long distances.

Interesting Facts about Ancient Roman Clothing

  • Togas came in different colors. For mourning, black dyed togas were active in use called Toga pulla.
  • Women from rich families had their undergarments also made from silk imported from China.
  • For dyed clothes, the Tyrian purple was the most sought-after in the market. It was a color obtained from the marine snails. 
  • Ancient Rome did not have washing machines or powders. The clothes were being washed with a chemical called sulfur. Sometimes urine was also used since it contains sulfur.
  • Senators and magistrates wore off-white-colored togas and red sandals. This was to highlight the fact that they were high-ranking officials.

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