How the Romans dressed: men’s fashion in ancient Rome
Let’s start with the underwear. The Roman males wore underwear, a sort of linen thong called subligar: it knotted around the waist and wrapped the intimate parts.
The basic item of clothing of Roman fashion was the tunic. Made of wool or linen, it was a kind of sleeveless shirt, knee-length and tightened by a belt. If it was cold, Roman males would wrap themselves in a cloak.
A poor man, dressed like that, would put on his sandals and leave the house. The most important citizens wore a robe over their tunic. The toga was a cloth of wool or white linen so long (even up to six meters) that it was wrapped around the body, often with the help of a slave (essential, for elegance, was the care of the folds).
Until the age of 16, the toga was bordered by a red stripe: this was the toga praetexta, also used by priests and magistrates. Then it was replaced by the white toga virilis: the boy thus entered definitively into the community of Roman citizens.
Only Roman citizens, in fact, could wear the robe, while it was forbidden to foreigners, slaves or liberated.
Women’s fashion in ancient Rome
The women also wore a bottom similar to the male thong. They also wore a bra. It was a soft fabric or leather band, the strophium or mamillare. The aim was to support and raise the breasts.
The women also wore the tunic, which was as long as their feet. It was held tight by two belts: one at the waist and another around the chest, under the breasts.
The matrons, above the tunic, wore a stole, made of silk or cotton. It was a dress sewn up to the feet, with thick pleats, without sleeves, but with shoulder pads.
It was then customary to cover oneself with the ball, a cloak that was placed on the left shoulder and wrapped around the body up to the ankles, with a part that could be raised to cover the head.
The women then completed their clothing with jewellery: necklaces, earrings, generally in gold and stone, but also bracelets and rings. Men also wore rings, but with simpler decorations than women.
Women used to shave and make up: for more information read La Cosmeesi nell’antica Roma.
As for shoes, males and females had sandals with leather or cork soles, held at the foot by strips of leather. There were also lime, closed leather shoes in the shape of an ankle boot.