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.

Sources: http://www.unrv.com/culture/ancient-roman-clothing.php