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sheetstola.jpgHOW TO MAKE A ROMAN COSTUME

Girl fans often ask me 'How can I make myself a toga?'

First I set them straight.

Roman men and boys wore togas, and they heartily disliked them. The toga was essentially a large blanket that had to be draped just so. You needed a slave to help put it on, so by the very act of wearing a toga you showed you were rich. If you are a boy fan and want to make a toga, you can use a big sheet. Good luck putting it on.

By the first century AD, when my books are set, the only women who wore togas were disreputable ones; and they had to wear them, to show they had been (or still were) naughty. Respectable women wore stolas and good girls wore tunics, usually long-sleeved for modesty.

If you are a boy and want to make a tunic, just wear a big tee-shirt, belted.

If you are a girl or woman and want to make a stola or girl's tunic, here is a simple way to do it. (below) I actually had to put this into practice once. I was on my way to an event in Newcastle and realised I'd left my costume in London. Luckily, a kind librarian donated a single sheet from her airing cupboard. I found one of those sewing kits you get free in hotels and frantically stitched it up in the back seat of the car as we drove to the event. When we arrived, my publicity manager Rowan loaned me her blue scarf and I used another scarf to tie up my hair. I added chunky ethnic jewellery and sandals and voila! I was a Roman lady...

Remember: the tunic is the tee-shirt thing, the toga or palla is what you wear over it. Of course you must always carry your sponge-stick (ancient Roman toilet paper) and your copy of a Roman Mystery with you!

 

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For more information on Roman clothing, go to the article on ROMAN CLOTHING at vroma.com