Were there fashion taboos for men in ancient Rome? Greece?

I was wondering about the Rome part, but threw in Greece at the last second.

Anyway, here we are in September, and after Labor day, we are not supposed to wear white - such as slacks for men, and dresses for women. (A male barn owl, I’ll be wearing white cotton slacks to the 11 o’clock Mass this morning.)

In the movies I’ve seen, just about all the (upper class?) Roman men wore white togas. Was there a proscription against more colorful attire? If a Roman Senator showed up for the games wearing a Tartan Plaid get up, would he be thrown to the lions? :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Were the ancient Greeks fashion bound?

I didn’t ask about women because I figure they had freedom of choice so long as they weren’t entirely naked - in public, that is.

My WAG: men couldn’t dress as women, and they couldn’t dress as someone with higher status or much lower status then they rightfully had.

The HBO series Rome (which got a lot of little details right, or so I am told) had Marc Antony wearing a Paisley toga at one point. Paisley!

Looking at the Wikipedia entry on paisley, though, it appears that the pattern may have originated in Persia during the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736). So Mark Antony in Paisley must have been an anachronism.

I’d better let someone with more expertise on the ancients tackle this one.

There were very specific styles of toga for different points of a man’s life. According to Wikipedia, non-citizens, the poor, and banished Romans were forbidden to wear the toga; soldiers didn’t wear it eather, leading to the expression cedant arma togae, “let arms cede to the toga” (to civil power).

Most Roman men wore the plain white toga virilis starting from legal age. Before adulthood, boys wore the toga praetexta, with a purple stripe on its border; interestingly, this was also worn by holders of high political office and certain priests. The dark toga pulla was for mourning, the richly embroidered toga picta was worn by generals during triumphs and certain very high officials on special occasions (including the Emperor - perhaps it was what was intended by the “paisley toga” mentioned above), and the purple toga trabea was worn by kings, augurs, and (when pure purple) by the gods.

Finally, the toga candida was made pure, dazzling white with chalk, and was worn by seekers of political office - whence the term “candidate.”

Thank you for the enightenment!

Now, will someone else address the fashion guides for Roman women?

Purple was very restricted. Trousers were declasse.

Whores wore red wigs; thus “honest” women would likely not be red haired.

This is what I could Google for toga picta: Classics | Furman University
Looks kinda like paisley.

For the late Republic and the early Empire, it was fashionable for men to wear their hair short and be clean shaven. Starting around the time of Emperor Hadrian, beards came into fashion, and men started wearing their hair longer.

There was also a period of time when men weren’t really upposed to wear jewelry other than a ring.

Remember, though, when you’re talking about Rome, you’re talking about a really long period of time. The founding of Rome is dated to around 753 BC, and the Western Empire fell in AD 476. (The eastern part of the empire didn’t fall until 1453). So, even if you just restrict yourself to Western Rome, you’re still talking about a 1200 year period. So, fashion can change a lot over that period of time.

Interesting. Looks like it’s embroidered with nekkid women, too.

The one on HBO’s Rome was actual paisley. I was struck by it, and remember wondering at the time whether it was anachronistic.

Yes they were, although not in the same class as the Romans.

In the preamble, this professorial article makes the point that:

The author, quoting from Plutarch, goes on to describe the appearance of 5th century BCE politician Alcibiades who was clearly seen by the ancients as an exception to the rule of good taste in appearance:

In another variation from the norm, young Athenian men would dress like Spartans, or possibly hippies, in order to distance themselves from the politics of their city-state:

Also in the 5th century BCE there is an example of fashions changing, firstly because of an eastern influence:

and secondly because the victory over the Persians rendered eastern fashions unpopular:

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Some of the points made about Roman fashions are touched upon upthread, but the author makes the point that, apart from clothes, other burning issues which kept Roman women in front of the mirror were hairstyles, makeup and perfumes.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

When were pants invented?

Dunno, but the barbarians wore pants, and so the Romans thought they were an uncivilized fashion.

Yeah, and wasn’t the wearing of pants actually outlawed in Rome at one point? No cite, just recall reading that Rome outlawed pants later on (when the barbarians were starting to pose more of a problem).

During the late republic it became the norm to wear tunics under your toga. This is significant because Cato the Younger used to wander about without one because that’s how it was done in the old days when people had better manners.

Hit reply by accident and then missed the edit window:

During the late republic it became the norm to wear tunics under your toga. This is significant because Cato the Younger used to wander about without one because that’s how it was done in the old days when people had better manners.

In the middle part of the empire fashions did become more Greek influenced. As I understand it Hadrian was a prime mover in this direction. Hadrian was fascinated with Greek culture and wore his hair in the Greek style. After Hadrian there was a long string of bearded emporers, which probably would have driven Cato into fits. :slight_smile: Anyway, here are some busts of the five good emporers. You can see the switch from “Roman” to “Greek” haircuts.

Nerva
Trajan
Hadrian
Antoninus Pius
Marcus Aurelius

Starting with Hadrian it’s beard theater for 100 years or so.

Although the Greeks didn’t have alot of hangups with male nudity showing one’s glans was considered indecent. Circumcised men (& those with naturally short foreskins) would pull down the skin left on their shaft and tie it in place with a string.

For that matter, gold rings (at least traditionally) were reserved for the equites class, as opposed to the standard iron rings.

I’ve been watching my DVDs of HBO’s Rome lately. At least according to said show, soldiers were not permitted to wear their uniforms (or armor or weapons) within the city of Rome. Armed soldiers within the city walls more or less meant martial law. Red cloaks were considered part of a soldier’s unfiorm, and therefore not allowed.

In one commentary track, the show’s historical consultant acknowledges that the red bands on one character’s toga were too broad; the breadth of the bands indicated seniority within the roman senate, and the character in question was a newly-appointed senator. In the same episode, one of the veteran senators complains that one of the new senators from Gaul was wearring earrings.

As dyeing processes for different colors had significantly different costs, certain colors were more prestigious than others. Purple cloth was the most expensive and prestigious (despite its fishy smell), and was associated with royalty. When Juilius Caesar began wearing purple, it was one more sign that he fancied himself a monarch.

The Tug-ahoy is older than I thought.