Toga, the Roman suit

2017-01-11 13:43:22

The toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a cloth of perhaps 20 ft (6 m) in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over atunic. The toga was made of wool, and the tunic under it often was made of linen. 


After the 2nd century BC, the toga was a garment worn exclusively by men, and only Roman citizens were allowed to wear the toga. After this time, women were expected to wear the stola.

The toga was based on a dress robe used by native people, the Etruscans. The toga was the dress clothing of the Romans, a thick woolen cloak worn over aloincloth or apron. It is believed to have been established around the time of Numa Pompilius, the second King of Rome. It was taken off indoors, or when hard at work in the fields, but it was considered the only decent attire out-of-doors.
This is evident from the story of Cincinnatus: he was ploughing in his field when the messengers of the Senate came to tell him that he had been made dictator, and on seeing them he sent his wife to fetch his toga from the house so that they could be received appropriately. While the truth of the story may be doubtful, it nevertheless expresses the Roman sentiment on the subject. Free citizens were required to wear togas because slaves would wear tunics. They wore them because the tunic was a sign of poverty and would let them work with ease.

As time went on, dress styles changed. Romans adopted the shirt (tunica, or in Greek chiton) which the Greeks and Etruscans wore, made the toga more bulky, and wore it in a looser manner. The result was that it became useless for active pursuits, such as those of war. Thus, its place was taken by the handier sagum(woollen cloak) on all military occasions. In times of peace, too, the toga eventually was superseded by the laena, lacerna, paenula, and other forms of buttoned or closed cloaks. However, the toga did remain the court dress of the Empire which began c. 31 BC.