Thursday, March 4, 2010

History Of Fashion Ancient Rome

The legend tells that Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC, by the twin sons of Mars, Romulus and Remus. Romulus killed his brother over the throne and became the sole ruler of Rome. He reigned until 715 BC, when he was succeeded by Numa Pompilius, the founder of Roman law and its religious practices.

With time, Roman power, influence and territory grew to unprecedented proportions in the ancient world. By the end of the Republic (31 BC), Rome controlled the entire Mediterranean. They defeated their most powerful rivals, the Carthaginians, and took over many of the lands ruled by the Greeks, including Egypt. Although, eventually ancient Rome was sacrificed at the altar of its own internal struggles for power, it was not before it had written its name under one of the most important periods in humankinds history. Two thousand years later, ancient Rome remains an endless inspiration of art, culture, architecture, and even fashion.

Costume
Roman costume was influenced by the styles of previous civilizations, such as the Etruscans and the Greeks, and also reflected the dress of conquered peoples, although in a lesser degree. It comprised two main categories: indutus, items that were put on, and amictus, clothing wrapped or draped around the body.

The wide range of climates that existed within the vast Roman Empire led to the creation of the seasonal dressing concept. Dress was adapted to the specific seasons and weather conditions.

Women's clothing
Womens clothes were made of light materials and in a variety of colors, which set them apart from mens clothes. Also, unlike mens dress, womens clothes changed little. The primary garment was the stola, a long tunic with full sleeves. It was made from wool, cotton or linen, with the more expensive designs made from silk. The stola was worn with a girdle known as cingulum and a wide belt, known as a succinda. With the help of these, women achieved to create a double-bloused effect. Under the stola women wore a bust bodice - the strophium, and a sleeveless shift dress - the subucula.

Roman matrons wore wide tunics, pleated into tiny folds, which were held together at the shoulder by a series of buttons along the sleeve.

The palla was a warm piece of cloth with a hood, fastened with a clasp. Another outer garment was the sapparum, worn by women of the upper class, which had short sleeves, and the olicula, which basically was a short cape.

Men's clothing
In the early days of the Republic, Roman men wore a simple linen loincloth known as the subligaculom or licinium. By the time of the empire, only athletes and workmen were permitted to wear loincloths. Romans, unlike the Greeks, were not tolerant of nudity. They did, however, inherit from them their two main garments: the tunic and the cloak. The basic short-sleeved tunic consisted of two pieces of wool cloth joined at the shoulders and down the sides, with slits for the head and arms. It was gathered at the waist with a belt, but could also be worn with a girdle.

There were different tunic styles for different occasions and social ranks. Magistrates wore the Tunica angusti clavi, which had two narrow purple stripes on each shoulder. The Tunica laticlavia, worn by senators, featured wider purple stripes. Made from purple silk and embroidered with gold thread, the Tunica palmata was worn by victorious generals. It consisted of two pieces and was worn together with the Toga picta. There were also other tunics, such as the Tunica recta, the Subucula and Tunica exteriodum, and the Caracaila.

The most important mantle was the toga, which was descended from the Greek himation and the Etruscan tebenna. The draped, elliptically shaped woolen piece of fabric was reserved for Roman citizens; slaves, foreigners, and lower classes were forbidden from wearing it. The toga's decoration, color and shape denoted the wearer's social rank. As did the manner in which the toga was draped.

The different forms of togas included the Toga picta, which signified victory and was worn by Roman generals on specific occasions. This toga was property of the state and only loaned to generals for ceremonial wear. Another toga was the Toga candida, which was worn by candidates for public office. Mourners wore the Toga pulla, which was either black, dark brown or gray, and had a head cover. The solid purple Toga trabea was worn by spiritual men. The same toga with purple and crimson stripes was reserved for the augurs or omens interpreters, while the purple and white one revealed the rulers of the Republic.

With the expansion of the Empire, Rome came to include in its territories much of northern Europe, which translated into harsher climatic conditions. Warm outer garments became a necessity. The Roman wardrobe included the sagum - a blanket-like wrap, taken from the Gauls; the lacerna, a rectangular piece of wool, draped over the shoulders, which had to be fastened with a clasp; the pallum or womens palla was a short rectangular cloak, influenced by the Greek himation; the paludanentum, was an enlarged version of the Greek chlamys, worn by Roman generals.
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Sunday, February 28, 2010

History Of Fashion Acient Greek Fashion Accessories

This is the second part of the article on ancient Greek dress

Jewelry
Ancient Greeks had an affinity for earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, and rings, made of metal and semiprecious stones. Precious metals were also used, but gold became popular only in the 6th century BC.

Jewelry evolved over time. During the Archaic period, jewelry pieces were simple and mainly functional. Such were the pins or brooches used to fasten the himation or the chiton, or the seal rings used to seal letters and important documents. By Hellenistic times goldsmiths had mastered their craft and jewelry featured an exquisite design and composition.

Footwear
The sandals were the common footwear for both men and women. The Greek sandal featured several straps, which stretched between the toes to the ankle in various fashions. They were minimal, light, and left the foot almost bare. Although high heels are considered to be a 16thcentury invention, already in ancient Greece women tried to make themselves taller by attaching cork sole to the leather sole. For travel or warfare, men wore fitted shoes - ankle-high or mid-calf length -and boots that either laced up or stayed on the foot with the help of a criss-cross thong at the toe.

Hats and head-dresses
Headgear came in different shapes and styles. There were several variations of a cone-shaped hat. The bonnet was another known style. The pilos was a brimless skull cap made from felt or wool. Women wore scarves, wrapped around the head. The saccus featured a tassel at the back as well as nets or snoods to hold the hair back. The petasos was made of woven straw. It featured a brim that could be turned up or down, and could also be fastened at the neck by a ribbon.

Hair styles
Hair styles for men and women were initially similar. In the early ages men wore their hair fussy with curls forming a crown around the forehead or braids wound around the head. But styles eventually were simplified and long hair became acceptable only for the elderly male, young men or boys.

Hair styles were known by names: the kepos was unkempt, the Hectorean style involved cutting and combing the hair backward into curls, and the Theseid featured strands of hair worn short at the forehead while the rest hung down longer at the back of the neck.

Young girls let their hair fall freely. Older women wore their hair long and let it fall loose over the shoulders. They could also wear their hair parted in the middle, waved, and scraped back so as to expose the ears. Sometimes, three or four strands, or spiral curls, were sectioned from the rest of the hair and styled so they hung down over the forehead while the rest of the hair hung down loosely at the back. Bands, ribbons, diadems, or strings of pearls added sophistication to hairdos.

Beauty and grooming
Make-up was used by most women. It consisted in applying a white base color to the face, rouge to the cheekbones, and painting one's lips. The base color was often made of lead, which could have fatal consequences, while the rouge was made from vermilion or vegetables. Women would also use eye make-up, which involved Egyptian kohl and shadows in different colors. Eyebrows were groomed and, painted black.

Perfumes were very popular, especially the essences of violet, mint, myrrh, marjoram, and thyme. The Greeks often applied different scents to different body areas.

Women conditioned their skin on a daily basis, used depilatories to remove body hair, and used different concoctions on both their face and body.

Good physical shape was important for both sexes, although only men were allowed in the palestra - a complex devoted to exercise.
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