Women wore a tunica which was adapted from the Greek chiton. The tunica was usually knee-length. Over this the women wore a stola which was a full length from neck to ankle, high- waisted and fastened at the shoulders with clasps. The stola was usually either white, brown or grey, though some were brightly coloured with vegetable dyes. A shawl, called a palla, was worn wrapped around the shoulders and arm, or could be draped over yhe head. Cloaks were worn to keep warm.


Men wore a knee-length tunic, either sleeveless or short-sleeved. Roman men wore a toga over their tunic, which was like a wide shawl that was draped over the shoulder and carefully wrapped around the body. A cloak was worn at night and during winter for warmth, and as protection against rain and wind.


Children wore tunics with wide sleeves. Children of patricians (nobels / upper classes) wore a tunic with narrow strips until the age of sixteen, when it was replaced by a white tunic.

Class Differences

Roman dress differed from one class to another. The tunic was worn by plebians (common people), herdsmen and slaves was made from a coarse dark material. The tunic worn by patricians was made from white woll or linen. Magistrates wore the tunic augusticlavia, and senators wore a tunic with broad strips, tunica laticlavia. Military tunics were shorter than those worn by civilians.


A Roman could tell how important or wealthy a person was from their toga. Free Roman men wore the toga instead of a cloak. It was originally an Etruscan garment worn in earlier times by both men and women of all classes. The toga was made from white wool or white Egyptian linen. It was square or rectangular in shape and was worn draped around the body.

The toga was worn often during state occasions. Consuls and senators wore a toga edged with purple. Some Roman senators wore white tigas that were ten metres long. Some emperors' togas were made entirely from either purple or black cloth. Black togas, though, were usually only worn in times of mourning.


Footwear also defined a person's position in society. Women wore closed shoes that were either white, green or yellow. Men wore sandals. Patricians wore red sandals with an ornament at the back. Senators wore brown footwear with black straps which wound round the leg to mid-calf, where the straps were tied. Consuls wore white shoes, and soldiers, heavy boots.

Cleaning Clothes

Cleaning clothes at home was difficult because of the lack of water and cleaning equipment. The task of cleaning clothes was left to fullers, who are shown in wall paintings treading clothes with their feet. Clothes were also treated with sulpher and urine, and brushed with combs.


Most early Roman jewelery resembled Greek and Etruscan jewelery, but Roman styles eventually deleloped. The Romans were fond of coloured stones such as topaz, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Pendants, especially cameos in gold frames, were popular


Wigs were worn by men as a disguise and to hide baldness. Fashionable women wore hair-pieces that were often made from the hair of slave girls. Chalk powder, charcoal and saffron were used as cosmetics. Men had trimmed beards or were close-shaven.

Hats were not worn except by slaves but women were expected to cover their heads when walking outdoors.