Saturday, February 14, 2009

Toga Party!

First off-FYI frat boys and sorority girls - the Greeks did NOT wear togas.  They wore Chitons.  If you want to impress and/or possibly alienate all of your friends host a chiton party for your next Greek event.  

In reality, the toga was worn by the people of the Roman Republic (509 BC - 27 BC).  Despite what you may have also seen at a Greek function in college or on my favorite episode of Saved by the Bell (you know, the one where Zack takes his Dad's car without permission to go to a toga party, gets drunk and crashes the car? I tried to find a picture I really did!), togas were not worn alone.  Rather, they were worn over a tunic and showed very little skin.  Speaking of tunics, now a days tunics are a garment for women whose length is in between a shirt and a dress.  In Roman times, a tunic was worn by men and women, had short sleeves and hit above the knee although some variation were shorter.

Back to the most famous one piece garment.  Togas came in all different colors which indicated one's freedom (aka you were not a slave), political status, and psychic abilities.  Yes, that's right.  Augurs were religious folk who predicted the future who wore multi-colored stripped togas.  In the first century BC, togas were restricted to male citizens of Rome.   After this time, the only women that donned togas were prostitutes or women who were divorced on grounds of adultery.  Women of status then wore a stola over their tunic and a palla, a veil like garment, to cover their head.  In the pictures below, the stola has been Photoshopped a lovely green to distinguish it from the tunic and palla.

The color coding of togas is quite extensive and if I wrote about it this post would be way too long but it is really interesting stuff.  I highly recommend anyone who is interested in this period in history look into it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A stomacher is not an adjective describing the superiority of one's stomach. Rather, it is a layer of clothing worn by women in the 17th century. Gowns in the 17th century consisted of a bodice and a skirt. As we all know, two pieces are often more practical than dresses. Doubles your wardrobe instantly.  In the 17th century, gowns were open in the front and a stomacher was worn over the bodice. Stomachers were similar to corsets as they were stiffened and had boning. For those of you wondering, the opening in the skirt was filled with a modeste.

Like most gals my age, my first introduction to a stomacher was in the book "Felicity's Surprise," the third book in the Felicity series from the American Girl Collection. Felicity was always my favorite of the (original) American Girls because her style was so awesome. If I remember correctly, Felicity gets a really fancy dress made at Christmas complete with a stomacher. In the American Girl catalog, the stomacher was reversible- one side had white details and the other had pink. I wanted Felicity's Christmas outfit more than anything and since this is real life and not a novel, I never got it. Felicity also wore a contrasting red cloak with her gown on the way to the ball which is also historically correct. Those American Girl people really do their research.
Here is a picture of two actual stomachers.  These are a bit blander than my American Girl's but hey, it wasn't balls all the time back then.