How to make a roman dress for women

Updated July 20, 2017

Whether you're going to a Halloween party or a college mixer dressed as a Roman woman, this costume idea is one of the most fun and most convenient to pull together. You just need to buy fabric; you don't need to stitch it. One type of the dress Roman woman used to wear was the stola, which is two panels of fabric held together at the shoulders and the waist. To look modest, they wore either a long-sleeved tunic underneath or a long shawl wrapped around the body, called a palla.

Find the right fabric. The fabric used at the time was either fine wool or linen. Pick which kind you want, depending on the weather. Linen is soft and comfortable fabric which flows better than wool, so if it's not too cold, buy white linen. If you can't find linen, or you want to opt for something a bit cheaper, plain cotton is a good substitute. The colour of your stola can be any muted colour you like, but to achieve the most authenticity, use white or gold, which are two colours the Romans are often depicted wearing.

Measure and cut your fabric; each panel needs to be 30 to 40 inches wide and long enough to reach your feet if you want to look traditional. If you want to look like a sexy Roman for a Halloween party, you can make it as short as you want, but keep in mind that your outfit will look less authentic because many Roman women wore cloaks and extra layers to look modest.

Hold the panels together. Leave space for your neckline and cinch the fabric together over both shoulders. Pin the panels together using three to five small brooches on each side above the shoulders. Your dress will be sleeveless and the fabric will flow down in a v-shape at the neck.

Wrap your gold corded rope about two or three times around your waist. You can either go out and buy a gold belt embellished with metals and jewellery, or you can spray paint a corded rope with gold paint and let it dry before use. The latter idea is cheaper, but the paint may ruin your fabric, allowing you to only wear it once.

Adorn your stola. If you want to look like a wealthy Roman woman, don't leave your stola bare. The well-off women of Roman times would adorn their tunics and robes with lace. You can go out to your local fabric stores and buy some to stitch onto your hem. Lace with golden work would look best.


Your hair will look best if you braid it and tie it up in an up-do. You can use several pieces of ribbon to wrap around your hair and to use as a headband. Your look will be complete with a pair of golden gladiator sandals.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of fabric, cut into two panels
  • Gold belt
  • Gold gladiator sandals
  • Pins, buttons or brooches
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About the Author

Annie Taylor has been a writer for online businesses since 2007. She also blogs for The Express Tribune. Her areas of expertise include culture, religion, health, hobbies, pets, holidays and DIY projects. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Science in physics and biochemistry from Lahore University of Management Sciences.