Roman Fashion Preview
By Chloe Jacques


     April 1, Rome-“What clothing will make me look stylish and au courant?”  I’m sure this question goes though every Roman citizen’s head in the morning each time they scavenge through their closet in search of appropriate attire for the events of that day.  My job is to help make these hard decisions easier by describing the clothing that our famous leaders and their wives have been seen wearing recently.  To answer the question briefly, keep an eye on what celebrities have been sporting and you will no doubt be in style.
    For men, the two “hottest” garments in Rome today are the tunica and the toga. The tunica is great for your everyday loungewear, and if you feel like being comfortable and stylish at the same time, this is the perfect clothing option for you.  This outfit is a short woolen undergarment complete with short length sleeves.  A tight belt fastens around the waist to make it snug and give the impression of a two-piece outfit.  If you want to radiate class and elegance, choose white.  However, you need to be careful with the cuts of the fabric because a fashion faux pas, regardless of the color, is wearing a long tunic with long sleeves.  Roman people of all classes can wear this ensemble and there are many variations in quality.  The most extravagant design of the tunica is expensive linen fabric with a belt of satin.  “Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out, Help ho! They murder Caesar!”-Who’s within?” Caesar tells his servant who later tells reporters that Calpurnia was wearing a ruby red tunica with a gold belt at the time of her desperate cry.  The brighter colors are coming back in!
    The toga is another commonly worn fashionable outfit of Rome.  This rope-like white rap is made from up to nine yards of fabric overlapping and creating a floor length draped garment of clothing.  Observers report a citizen sporting one of these in trendy wool.  In response to seeing such fashionable attire, Marullus replies to the citizen’s words by saying, “What dost thou with thy best apparel on,” indicating that the citizen’s clothing garments are very stylish. There are many up-to-date variations on this style of clothing and both men and women wear them.  Although for the longest period of time our culture has adapted to the all white togas, our beloved Caesar, may he rest in peace, was seen wearing an all purple toga rimmed with gold embroidery as his day-to-day clothing option.  He was first seen wearing this outfit while humbly denying his crown three times from Mark Antony.  Since this version of the toga is so extravagant, it has its very own name, the “toga picta.”  This look is said to be very royal and will most likely be worn by many rulers to come.  Another type of toga that has been seen recently is the “toga pulla.”  After Caesar’s death, Calpurnia, along with many other women who were loyal to Caesar have been wearing a toga of this style.  This toga is worn in dark shades such as gray, maroon, and black.  It is worn strictly in times of mourning.   
    Now I will move on to shoes.  The customs for shoes are not as strict as those for clothing and, therefore, can easily be worn to the preference of the individual.  Although, I would recommend sticking to the calceus or the soleae.  The calceus is a strappy sandal that can be worn mainly around the house complementing the tunica.  If you need a shoe to go out for a stroll in, I would recommend wearing the soleae.  This footwear entirely encloses the foot and can vary widely in material and color.  It is very comfortable and works with any foot type.  “My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me,” Antony announces in front of the citizen’s of Rome while showing off his dark leather soleaes which every Roman may feel the need to run out and buy so they too can look like the bold and wonderful Antony.
    I hope I have cleared up any confusion as to the latest fashion in Rome these days.  Remember, just think tunica and toga and be sure to look out for the latest trends in color and fabric worn by our leaders and you will be sure to have great style!
 Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Act 2 scene 2, line 2-3
 Act 1 scene 1, line 8
 Act 3 scene 2, line 105