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How did the Romans dress?

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

The upper social strata of Rome paid attention to how they dressed and what fashion prevailed at that time. Roman clothes owed a lot to Greeks, but it should be emphasized that the Romans created their own style and cut of clothing (you can say more sophisticated).


Most of the clothes were made of wool or linen. The Romans adopted Greek weaving tools, introducing their own two-arm loom innovation. The Romans built textile factories, and great roads allowed for effective clothing trade throughout the empire.

Woolen clothes required special attention and care so that they do not shrink or lose their good appearance. To this end, public laundries were created in which robes were cleaned, bleached and ironed. Urine. Collected in city toilets was used for bleaching clothes. In ancient Rome, silk was extremely popular. The Roman aristocracy imported fabric on such a large scale that the emperor Tiberius forbade it to be worn.

Leather was another material used in Rome. The Romans and Greeks learned very sophisticated ways of tanning leather, which enabled them to use material including for the production of shoes.

Toga and tunic

One of the most luxurious clothes was a gown. It was a sign of belonging to a particular higher social stratum. It was usually made of white wool. Toga was a wide material that was specially wrapped around the man’s body. Under the robe, a sleeveless tunic was usually worn. Neither workers nor slaves wore gowns. They preferred the usual knee-length tunic – hence the term tunicati. Slaves often wore only a loincloth – subligaculum.

For the poorest, slaves and children, the tunic was the only cover. The tunic worn by plebs, craftsmen, merchants and laborers often had no sleeves. As a rule, she was girded with a rope, often fastened on only one shoulder, was a cheap and practical cover (two parts of the material stitched on the sides and on the shoulders with a hole for the head). Women used to wear long tunics that resembled contemporary dresses.


The shoes of ancient Romans consisted of several types, where sandals (sandalia or soleae) or shoes (calcei) were most often worn. The shoes were similar to those of us today, except that they had a sole made of leather, and leather straps surrounded the foot and calves.

The legs were not completely covered, so there were free spaces that allowed the legs to breathe. During rainy weather, shoes called pero were worn, which were made of tanned leather. Higher shoes, reaching the mid-calf – were also worn. calcamen. In early Rome, shoes with bent toes were worn – calcei repandi. Roman shoes, however, had rounded toes as standard.

In addition to the footwear mentioned earlier, there were flip-flops (socci) and theater footwear, e.g. cothurnus. Roman senators wore black leather footwear (calceus senatorius), which had four straps (corrigiae). They were similar in shape to the red on the high soles of patrician shoes – calceus mulleus. Women, in turn, wore caligae muliebres and calceoli, where the latter was a small shoe.

More about the dress of ancient Romans

  • Boucher Francois, Historia mody, Warszawa 2003
  • Duda Sebastian, Kiedy człowiek włożył majtki?, "Gazeta Wyborcza", 24 February 2014
  • Steele Philip, Clothes and Crafts in Roman Times

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