Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Achelous head. Pendentive of an Etruscan gold necklace, ca. 480 BC

Greek and Roman jewelry was very important to the people who wore it.  It sometimes had symbolic meaning, was decorative, or even showed status just like their clothes did. Early Greek and Roman jewelry was made of many different materials that came from many different place because of the accessibility to a variety of natural resources found in Europe all the way to Asia.  They also had a very big trade industry and that helped them access precious gems and fine metals to create the jewelry.

A lot of the jewelry they would where would have a functional purpose.  They were the first people to wear brooches, but they used them as a way to hold together their clothes instead of a decorative accessory like we use them today. They also wore something called the fibula, which basically was a glorified safety pin that also was used to hold together their clothes, and was usually decorated with beautiful gemstones. 

Greek and Roman jewelry generally was not as shall I say "bling bling" as some of the jewelry you will see from other Mediterranean cultures.  They were as interested in what it looked like, but rather more interested in what it did.  Although due to trade and travel eventually you will eventually see more detailed jewelry as the Greeks and Romans progressed. In a way it is like any fad, if someone important thinks it is beautiful then everyone will start thinking it is beautiful and wanting one of their own.
Here are some examples of the jewelry I was talking about.
1st Century Ancient Roman Jewelry
Roman Necklace
Rings: (left), Roman Earring: IAA

1st Century Ancient Roman Jewelry
Roman Earrings:

The variety of gemstones that were used in their jewelry was also very important.  They had beautiful pearls that came from the coast, and onyx and emerald especially. Another example that we still wear today is the hoop earring which started in Rome. Their earrings looked a little different but generally had the same function which was to complete and outfit.  A lot of the pictures I looked at of their hoop earrings depicted images or miniature sculptures of animals, gods, and slaves all showing meaning in their lives.

Now here are some similar pieces that are made today for a much cheaper price than what the Greeks and Romans paid.

Roman Necklace

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Redolent with rich earthy tones, the Spring 2007 collection from Donna Karan, presented Friday at New York Fashion Week, married flowy 1970s womanhood with Roman-inspired influences. Composed of army green, sandy shades, and batik-like patterns, Karan's loose, toga-style dresses were given structure by skinny belts, metal-ring details, and gladiator sandals. Most notably, this was one of the few collections that actually seemed as if it would look better on real, curvy women than on super-skinny models. The line was a flattering and refreshing twist on sophisticated women's wear.  This article was found at .

I wanted to start of this blog with an article about Donna Karan's runway show that she debuted in 2007.  When looking for designers who were inspired by Greek and Roman fashion she seems to be one that always comes to mind.  She keeps her designs relatively simple like the Romans did and stays true to her influences. When the editor of Elle Magazine wrote this review about the spring clothing line I think they were spot on with their use of terms that we all would understand since we are in the Greek and Roman art history class.

Here is another article I found that talks about Greek and Roman inspired clothing and how women should not be afraid to try the style.

Goddess Dresses are Glamorous at Any Age

Layered drapes and soft pleating gives a sense of floaty femininity. This is good news for women with a fuller figure as styles vary enough to suit all body types. Soft, front draping is ideal for concealing a fatter tummy and big hips and will gently skim the stomach area, hiding those bits which you don't want on show!
An ideal style for pregnant women who can for once, look right on trend. Goddess dressing is also one of the few current fashion favorites which are just as flattering at fifty as at twenty-five, given a well-chosen style. On 7th January 2008 Katie Holmes was pictured in a shimmering, silk goddess dress, at the 13th Critics Choice Awards in Santa Monica. Looking every inch the movie star, her Lanvin one-shoulder gown was reminiscent of the glamor of Hollywood’s golden age.

One-Shoulder Trend Spring 2008

Women who follow fashion will be baring more skin than ever this year. In deference to the ancient Greeks and Romans, one-shoulder numbers are favored by many designers.
Mismatched shoulders are also set to be a big hit for spring, featured in the majority of the new asymmetry styles. Asymmetric tunics, tops and dresses, even swimwear, get the one –shoulder treatment this year.
"One-shoulder dresses are something every woman should probably have in her closet this season," says Jenn Falk, First Coast News fashion expert, in the 1st January 2008 article “Off the shoulder a big hit in 2008.”

Who Can Wear a Toga Dress?

Whether all types of women can carry off the toga remains to be seen. Most willowy, curvy women will look sensational in a one-shouldered, clinch-waisted, maxi length Grecian frock. Shorter women, however, may feel more like a sack of potatoes than a goddess.
There is also one other catch. In Elle magazine's online style report, “the World upon her shoulders”, its editors report that, with one-shoulder dressing being prevalent this season, “it's becoming clear that perfect posture will be an absolute necessity."
However, whatever your shape, posture, age or size, there are so many dress styles to choose from this season and the influences of ancient Greece and Rome currently hitting our high-street stores are only one shoulder away!
As you can see Greek and Roman fashion is every where today and people are even discussing the types of bodies these styles look best on, and from what I have read ( and personal experience) they really look great on anyone.  I'm sure that's exactly what the Greek and Roman women were thinking hahaha! 
Now for the more frugal shopper I have an article about Vera Wang's clothing line that dropped into Kohl's stores all around the country in 2008. Enjoy!

Vera Wang's Roman-Inspired Clothes

By: Jill Scott
The ethereal princess, the Greek goddess, but with a playful modern flair.

Vera Wang just launched a new collection for Kohl's, which is a nice addition to her empire, but it was the Roman Empire that took center stage at fashion week as she unveiled her Spring 2008 collection.

"What I love about ancient Rome was the people, the vibrance of the colors and the society," Wang said. "It's multicultural and there was different kinds of people living there and they wore these incredible colors and that was the departing point for me for spring."

Tunics, togas and featherweight tees. Relaxed silhouettes that are artfully cut and draped to evoke an air of seduction and sophistication. Voluminous fabric and textures fuse together to create dramatic proportion, with ornamental finishes that are as bountiful as a Roman feast.

Once you enter Vera Wang's temple, you're sure to become a pillar of elegance and style.

Lastly, I will end this blog with a brief tutorial on how to make your own toga out of a curtain or sheet if you decide that is what you want to do. Enjoy!

Shoes and Underwear YAY!

So there is not a lot of knowledge of what exactly the Greeks and Romans wore underneath their clothes but after my research I did find some answers as to what was underneath it all.  In most cases both men and women wore a small wrapped loincloth called Subligar which means "little binding underneath."  The laborers wore the underwear wear when working and the upper class men wore them when they worked out. Women also wore underwear that they called " strophium or mamillare" and were a band of cloth they wrapped around themselves.  Women also sometimes wore a band of leather around their breasts for support.  Here is an example of the women's underwear. female athlete

Most of the time men and women would wear sandals called " soleae, sandalia" when they were indoors and out of the elements. There were many different style some more practical than others and some more elegant to show status.  Shoes that had closed toes where definitely made to be worn outside and always paired with a toga. It was considered proper to remove the shoes before entering someones home especially the upper class and slip on a pair of sandals while the slaves held onto their shoes.  Some of the more expensive shoes were made of real leather and did not differentiate much between male and female shoes.  Although upper class males did have a certain pair of shoes that
marked their status so everyone knew they were important.

Here is an article the was posted on National Geographic's website on October 10, 2011 about an amazing discovery of Roman shoes in Scotland.
James Owen
Published October 10, 2011
About 60 pairs of sandals and shoes that once belonged to Roman soldiers have been unearthed at a supermarket construction site in Camelon, Scotland (see map), archaeologists say.
The 2,000-year-old leather footwear was discovered along with Roman jewelry, coins, pottery, and animal bones at the site, which is located at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.
The cache of Roman shoes and sandals—one of the largest ever found in Scotland—was uncovered recently in a ditch at the gateway to a second century A.D. fort built along the Antonine Wall. The wall is a massive defensive barrier that the Romans built across central Scotland during their brief occupation of the region.
The find likely represents the accumulated throwaways of Roman centurions and soldiers garrisoned at the fort, said dig coordinator Martin Cook, an archaeologist with AOC Archaeology Group, an independent contractor in Britain.
"I think they dumped the shoes over the side of the road leading into the fort," he said.
"Subsequently the ditch silted up with organic material, which preserved the shoes."
Despite being discards, the hobnailed shoes are in relatively good condition, Cook added.
Roman shoes.The hobnailed shoes are in relatively good condition. Photograph courtesy Martin Cook
Archaeology picture: A Roman fort.
The site of an ancient fort contains a cache of discarded Roman footwear, archaeologists say.
Very Very cool in my opinion.

Ok now I would like to go ahead and show you how much Greek and Roman shoes have influenced the different styles of shoes both men and women are wearing today. I also personally love the styles and have many shoes in my own closet that I can definitely say are inspired by Greek and Roman shoes ... so cool!
This is a women's shoe sold at Macy's for $25.00 and shows us the open toe and if I were a Greek or Roman I would most likely be wearing them indoors.  They also have metal along the top and a lot of women's shoes from that time had metal embellishments to show status.  So back then a very wealthy male or female would be wearing these shoes, but today they are considered to be relatively inexpensive.
Ok now this is a sandal made by Cham and Jack and costs $45.00.  This sandal would be worn by Greek and Roman men and women and also probably would be for the upper class if it was made of leather like it is today.  This sandal does not have any embellishments on it so we could say that it would not be to impress but more of an everyday shoe for them.

And i will finish up with just a few images of some sandals that I particularly like.

 I had to ;)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Im going to start this blog off with a little comic relief.  Here is a video some student at Rutgers University made about Greek and Roman fashion, and actually it's a pretty good representation of what their clothes actually looked like back then.

Now I would like to consider Greek and Roman women and how their dress was a little bit different than men.

The most common clothing that Ancient Roman women wore was what they call a "Stola".  This type of garment would cover the length of the body all the way down to the feet, and often had a wool covering over it called the "palla".  How women positioned it on their bodies was different becuase they had many layers underneath so each would tunic would fit their individual bodies differently. In most cases the stola was a long sleeved tunic worn underneath a short sleeved tunic.  To complete the outfit women would also wear a cloak that buckled over their right should, this is also the main difference between a tunic that a woman would wear and a tunic that a man would wear. This garment had some limitations due to things like climate and costly materials, so it was mainly made out of wool. On occasion and mainly for more prosperous women they would have tunics made of linen for the summer time in order to stay cool.  Many women would dye their tunics bright colors because the Romans loved bright colors and those colors often had symbolic meaning as I discussed in the previous blog.

woman with olive jar

Something that I would also like to discuss when talking about what the women would wear is also how they would wear their hair to go along with the proper tunic. Many women would not only just dye their tunics but like many women today they would also dye their hair. The most common color was a golden-red.  They also used hairpieces made from animal hair or human hair to add more hair to their own in order to make their hair look thicker.  Some styles they preferred were either up in a very intracate design around their head often adorned with jewled hair pieces, or hair down curled in ringlets and spirals.

Another thing to consider when looking at Greek and ROman women is their accessories that they added to their outfits.  Some of them included many of the things we still accessorize with today.
- necklaces
-ankle bracelets
-breast chains
-jewled buttons
The list also includes friendship rings, ornamental hairpins, earrings,  and even hairnets of solid gold! Jewelry, especially bronze and gold, was popular among upper-class Roman women. Accessories were highly decorated and expensive. Fans made of peacock feathers were featured as part of the appearance of the Roman woman.

The Roman Bride
Already when just looking at images of the tunics that Greek and Roman women would wear we already see a similarity between them and modern day bridal gowns.  The gown for a roman bride was basically a straight shaped decorated tunic with ribbons and jewlery.  These particular tunics were woven all in one piece and had to be long enough to reach the ground when the bride put it on.  The tunic would also have a belt that was to be tied around the waist in the "knot of Hercules" which symbolized the guardian of wedded life so it was very important that that be done.  If the family had more money then she would wear a red colored veil that covered that tunic.  Then the bride would have to go out and collect flowers to adorn her veil with before the ceremony took place.

Now I would like to show some examples of some modern day designers that are using what the women from ancient Greece and Rome wore.

This gown by Valentino is similar in some ways because it has the belt around the waist and is straight down to the floor and also woven in the round which means their are no zippers it is all one piece.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where it all started

Lets begin with some background knowledge of where the amazing clothes of the Greeks and Romans came from , what the were, how they showed status, and their function.  In this blog I am mainly going to focus on what adult men traditional wore.

First off I would like to address what exactly a Roman man would generally wear. There options were pretty slim deciding between either the "tunica" or the "toga".  The tunica was a wool fabric that would been worn underneath other garments when it was colder, and in the warmer months would be worn without anything over top.  This garment would never have long sleeves because it was seen as effeminate.  The tunica was worn mainly by the lower and middle class, freedmen, and slaves.  Although it was mainly for the general population to wear, the upper class did wear tunicas in the privacy of their homes where no one would see them for the simple fact that tunicas were comfortable.  The tunicas that would be worn by upper class Romans were made of expensive white wool and linen.  Lower class Romans made their tunicas from cheaper materials that were easy to access.  Tunicas were used to show class.  An example of this is that Roman magistrates would wear a tunic called tunic augusticlavia, and senators would wear tunicas that had a strap that went across their should and fastened around the waist, these were called tunica laticlavias. In addition to the tunica there would always be what we call today a belt that would be worn around the waist to make it look like a two piece outfit.  In contrast the toga was pretty much used to show status, to make a display, a statement piece.  The Roman toga was made of very heavy expensive white wool and used a lot of fabric. Since it was such a heavy and uncomfortable material it became a garment that was only worn on special occasions,   state occasions. The toga also could only be worn by actual Roman citizens, if you were not a citizen it was looked down upon if you wore one.  This changed a bit during the time of Augustus were he made a strict moral code that required all citizens to wear togas in public. Augustus made this moral code because he saw the toga as a symbol of peace and prosperity, and wanted to display that to the world. As time passed the rule was suppressed and people became less likely to abide by the rules set in place by Augustus. A more comfortable version of the toga that was commonly worn was a tunic with a lacerna over top that became the everyday garment amongst the people of Rome.

Now we move on to the issue of status.
There were many different types of togas, each one holding a different meaning in society.
Here are some examples:

Toga virilis: the simplest of all togas, made of cheap wool with an off white color, usually worn by adult middle and lower class males.

Toga praetexta: off white in color and was adorned with a purple border around the edges of the fabric.  These were worn by senators and consuls and had minor differences int he border to show distinctions between the senators and the conculs.

Toga pulla: This was a toga worn in times of grief and mourning and would be a very dark colored fabric, similar to our modern tradition of wearing black to a funeral.

Toga candida: This I would call the political toga.  Today it is very important that politicians that hold high office are dressed to impress.  This toga would be what they wore.  It was artificially whitened to show purity of the political candidate and to be able to distinguish themselves from everyone else. hmmmmmm interesting.

Toga picta : This was a special toga that was completely purple with gold threading through it.  It would be worn by Roman generals that were going to be in a triumphal parade. Julius Caesar made this type of toga part of his everyday wear, this is probably because he was aware that in earlier times kings would wear similar purple togas.

Now i would like to continue with some modern day outfits that are directly inspired by garments were learned about above.

Valentino Garavani:  His dresses have a very clear inspiration from Roman and Greek fashion.  His long flowing gowns with rich colors, even today still show us status.  I mean if you can afford a Valentino dress your certainly going to make people notice and make a statement.  Here are some example of his gown that I think are inspired from Greek and roman fashion.

this is am image of Valentino himself.

This is clearly inspired by Roman fashion not only because the color is that deep purple showing very high status, but it is also cinched at the waist and we know that all togas were usually belted around the waist.  It also does not have sleeves, this would be similar to the toga picta I discussed early.
This is many layers and has that wrapping around of fabric (similar to linen) that makes it very much like the toga virilis.

This is just another example of one of Valentinos dresses that has direct inspiration from togas.  It is very flowy and easy to walk in, it has elements of layering and is a similar color palette.