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TOGA-ther, we will rule history!

When you think of togas, do these images come to mind?

Photograph of a toga dress by Kurt Wilberding

Photograph of a toga dress by Dora Pavel









Well, did you know that togas were originally outfits for males in the ancient Roman society?

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Surprisingly, togas were donned by ancient Roman men. The different styles of togas differentiated Roman men of different social status. The color of the togas represented different classes within the society. Here's a pyramid describing the hierarchy.

Colors of the togas and their corresponding hierarchies - by Athena and Chantal


Comic drawing of a tunic by John Leech

Sketch of a tunic by C. F. Jewett









Tunics were worn by slaves - menial laborers, gladiators and educators. Tunics were knee-length, a shorter version of togas. Hence, it allowed for ease of movement while carrying out manual labour and tasks.

Toga Pura

A statue of the toga pura by National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona CC 3.0

The Toga Pura was donned by average class, adult male citizens and was typically dyed white. This toga is of special importance to coming-of-age male citizens as it symbolizes a rite of passage for them.

Toga Praetexta 

A Roman in a toga praetexta by Nordisk familjebok

The Toga Praetexta commonly appeared in the form of a white toga with purple borders. These togas were worn by curule magistrates, as well as upper class men. 

Toga Pulla

The Toga Pulla is made with fabrics of dark colors to signify mourning. The darkened fabrics were typically of dark grey or brown colors.

Toga Candida

An illustration of the toga candida by John William.

Unlike the Toga Pura, which is worn by average class male citizens, the Toga Candida is chemically washed out, de-colored and sometimes enhanced using white chalks. Toga candidas were worn by candidates running for consul. 

Toga Trabea

A white toga with purple and red stripes at the borders is known as the Toga Trabea. It was donned by Romulus and other diplomats at formal events. 

Toga Picta

Generals who returned home victorious from battles had the privilege of putting on the Toga Picta. The Toga Picta was usually purple in color, symbolizing royalty, with elaborate gold embroidery. Emperors would also wear these Toga Pictas for important national events.


Do these togas look beautiful? Yes.

Seems easy enough to drape over and wear? Maybe.

Seems comfortable to get around in that outfit? Hmm... Not so sure...

The toga may not have been all that easy to wear.

The toga was mainly made of wool whereas the tunic, worn as an inner layer, was made of linenDonning a toga was a tedious and a difficult process. Wool was heavy and the toga ranged from 12 ft to 20 ft in length. Can you imagine yourself wrapped in a thick layer of wool, carrying out daily activities in a weather like Singapore's?

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That was very similar to what the Roman males were subjected to during summer. They had to wear their heavy, long togas and carry out their daily affairs. Here’s a video to help you visualize how a typical ancient roman toga was like. [youtube] It is no doubt fascinating how ancient Roman men clothing has evolved into a popular fashion style for women in today’s world. As mentioned above, an average toga measured about 12ft to 20ft long. Once Romans progressed beyond marble floors to the common ground, the togas thus often came into contact with the dusty and dirty ground. They observed that the bottom portion of the toga became blackened and filthier quicker than that of the top portion. In a bid to come up with a solution, the toga was improvised into separate pieces of apparelThrough the years, togas were modified and adapted into modern clothing styles

What was once an attire that symbolized aristocracy eventually morphed to become an integral concept of women’s fashion in the 21st century.


Images used:

  1. Ancient Roman Toga (i)
  2. Ancient Roman Toga (ii)
  3.  Ancient Roman Toga (iii)
  4. Backdrop (Ancient Roman city of Gerasa)
  5. New York Street
  6. Flower fields  
  7. Modern Day Toga (i) 
  8. Modern Day Toga (ii) 
  9. Modern Day Toga (iii)
  10. Modern Day Toga (iv)


Background music: 

Roses Instrumental/Beat by King Loui