Facts About Ancient Roman Clothing & Hairstyles

Written by steve johnson
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Facts About Ancient Roman Clothing & Hairstyles
Clothing and hairstyle has always played an important role throughout history. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

With the defeat of the Carthaginians in 146 B.C., ancient Rome established a powerful empire spanning Western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Roman military forces spread across the region and with them, so did Roman culture. Fashion was a very important part of the culture for ancient Romans, indicating the status and importance of people within the society.

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Toga

Stemming from Greek influence, Roman leaders strictly enforced their male citizens to wear togas in public during the early years of the Roman Republic. A toga was a large piece of clothing, measuring about 3 meters by 2 meters and made of woollen fabric, intricately arranged around the body. Togas came in different types, depending on the occasion and the person's status. The most common type worn by ordinary men was a plain white toga called the "toga virilis," while a special type with purple fringes and worn by political leaders and consuls was called the "toga praetexta."

Tunic

A tunic was a lighter piece of clothing compared with a toga and was the customary clothing of most Romans from man to woman and slave to ranking official. The main variation lay in the way tunics were worn. Tunics for men were usually sleeveless and extended just below the knees, while tunics for women were long-sleeved, usually extending to cover their feet. Belts attached the tunics around the body. Like the toga, tunics worn by political leaders or high members of society were decorated with purple borders. Tunics were also normally worn under togas, eventually overtaking the popularity of the Greek-derived toga.

Stolas

There were fewer restrictions on how women dressed compared with men. Married women wore garments similar to tunics called stolas. Stolas could be made of any colour, designed with or without sleeves and embroidered on the fringes. Stolas were usually worn over long tunics, and then made more fashionable with belts, buttons or pins.

Hairstyles

Like much of the culture of the ancient Romans, hair grooming also had a handful of Greek influence. The trend of shaving facial hair and cutting hair short began with the Greeks. Roman men's hairstyles were the basic "short-cropped" style, but some men also indulged in wearing wigs. Like today, women's hairstyles came in a wider variety. Looks ranged from a simple bun arranged at the back or the top of the head, to complex "coifs" enhanced with ribbons, layers, coils and twists.

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