Toga

Ancient Roman formal dress / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The toga (/ˈtɡə/, Classical Latin: [ˈt̪ɔ.ɡa]), a distinctive garment of ancient Rome, was a roughly semicircular cloth, between 12 and 20 feet (3.7 and 6.1 m) in length, draped over the shoulders and around the body. It was usually woven from white wool, and was worn over a tunic. In Roman historical tradition, it is said to have been the favored dress of Romulus, Rome's founder; it was also thought to have originally been worn by both sexes, and by the citizen-military. As Roman women gradually adopted the stola, the toga was recognized as formal wear for male Roman citizens.[1] Women engaged in prostitution might have provided the main exception to this rule.[2]

Statue of the Emperor Tiberius showing the draped toga of the 1st century AD.

The type of toga worn reflected a citizen's rank in the civil hierarchy. Various laws and customs restricted its use to citizens, who were required to wear it for public festivals and civic duties.

From its probable beginnings as a simple, practical work-garment, the toga became more voluminous, complex, and costly, increasingly unsuited to anything but formal and ceremonial use. It was and is considered ancient Rome's "national costume"; as such, it had great symbolic value; however even among Romans, it was hard to put on, uncomfortable and challenging to wear correctly, and never truly popular. When circumstances allowed, those otherwise entitled or obliged to wear it opted for more comfortable, casual garments. It gradually fell out of use, firstly among citizens of the lower class, then those of the middle class. Eventually, it was worn only by the highest classes for ceremonial occasions.