Roman Dress: Discussion and More

Ancient Roman for Aelianora's Laurel Vigil

As you might know I (Aelianora) has a soft spot for the Romans. For my vigil, I'd like to do Imperial Roman clothing, anything from the years 0 to 250 AD or so. I love late Roman clothing too, but the earlier Roman garb is great for camping!

Because my actual elevation garb is being made by me as my Sergeantry quest, I'm asking my friends and the artisans of Dragon's Laire to help me do the Roman garb for my vigil. The entire vigil is going to be Roman; we'll all lounge around on beds (ok, not me) and eat grapes or something.


The following are some good links to simple explanations on Roman garb. Roman garb was much the same as Greek garb (more or less the same items, different words) and the garb of other circum-Mediterranean cultures. is a good virtual community about learning about Rome. Overview on clothing and information about men's clothing. This is a simple summary, but has good information and good illustrations. This is the page on women's clothing. It's also a good introduction, but note the text uses a mixture of Greek and Roman terms for the clothing which could be confusing. Online Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women. This resource is awesome for learning about women in Rome and details some of the original textual and image sources for our knowledge. Browse the images, you'll start to recognize the clothing and notice how it's fastened, draped, and so on. Yea, it's wikipedia, but it's a good minimal introduction.

The Clothing

First, a note on location: The Roman Empire was big. Really, big. The clothing of those Romans living in, for example, Britain, was different that the of those living in Tunisia, or Rome itself. Weather, social circumstances, native pre-Roman cultural traditions, relative wealth and more all played a factor.

I'm going for a Roman in Rome, or one recently transplanted from Rome, look.

What I will need are a tunica (probably linen, although silk is an option and would have been used by the upper classes for 'fancy' wear), a stola which is a long sleeveless gown worn by Roman matrons (the equivalent of the man's toga) and made out of light colored wool and a palla - the long scarf like garment worn carefully folded and draped. The palla was either wool or silk, depending on occasion, wealth of the wearer and so on. Light silk pallas would have been used for fancy events, dinners with the Emperor and so on. They were not necessarily only for wearing outside.

Tunica - this should fasten in 'buttons' along the shoulders. The buttons are created from the cloth of the tunic and really easy to make. Other than that, the tunic is simply two long rectangles of cloth, fastened at the shoulders and along the arms, and then gathered with a belt either under the breasts, at the waist, or around the hips. I'm currently thinking of using a blue silk for the tunica, or perhaps a blue linen.

Stola - This woolen garment is much like the tunica in that it's simply two rectangles, fastened with brooches or pins at the shoulders. It's also fastened along the sides. I want this to be a thinner light colored (preferably white or off-white) wool.

Palla - This is a long rectangle of fabric, carefully draped and folded. It simple needs to be hemmed at the top and bottom and if desired, to have fringe attached along the edges. I'm looking at a bright magenta or pink silk for this. A thin wool would be awesome too.

Shoes - We are going to be indoors. I will go barefoot.

Hair - Fun! Not sure yet what to do, but it'll involve braids and curls.

Accessories - a head band/circlet or an armlet? Earrings, maybe a neck band and bracelet.

Makeup - I'll wear it, but not the white foundation lead!

The Man's Clothing

????? I still have to sit down with him and find out what he wants. So Coming soon!


If you click on them, you'll be taken to the website from which they originated.

Tunica in blue. Stola in white. Palla in light beige.