Dress, Posture, and Self-Presentation: Men


Dress can do many things: it can signal status, cultural identity, gender, official rank and more. This was very much true of Rome as well as other societies.

Styles, however, changed much slower than now: fashions were relatively fixed especially in the first several hundred years of the Republic, although the materials and colours that were used did shift faster as Rome expanded and trade networks could reach farther and farther, and new dyes imported. Some dyes, like purple, were incredibly expensive, and were reserved for the elite. Most people probably wore undyed clothing or drably coloured materials — if they were lucky. Many probably wore rags, and some slaves in mines and mills were basically naked as they went about their back-breaking labour.

This section introduces you to the role of dress in marking acceptable forms of male Romanness, and especially the importance given to the toga as the ultimate Roman garment, and as exclusive to male Roman citizens.


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