Color by Dulcia MacPherson, captions by me.
I recently presented my stola paper at An Tir’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences Championship as a single entry. You can see a video of my presentation here (20 min talk, 20 min Q&A). Since I know not everyone wants to read a giant tome, I’m going to break up important bits of my paper into a series of blog posts.
The stola had four major identifying features:
- Worn as an overdress
- Made of lightweight wool
- Constructed as a simple tube, with straps, round pins, or fabric knots at the shoulders, that created a “V neck” with draping.
- Worn double belted, to create an extra folded layer at the hips
The stola was popular for about 400 years (mid-Republic to early Empire), and was integral to the Roman matron’s sense of self. It gave its wearer special social and legal protections.
Note: Click here for PART I: Why Wool?, PART II: Color & Embellishment, and PART III: Construction
PART IV: WHEN did they wear this darn thing, anyway?
In the early Roman world, starting in the 5th century BCE, there was a garment called the vestis longa – (“long dress”) worn by matrons. By the 2nd century BCE, it was called the stola, and became emblematic of a respectable married woman. It was hugely sought-after for its legal and social protection in the middle and late Republic. It wasn’t necessarily worn at home, unless you were entertaining guests, but it was essential for going out in public if you were entitled to wear it.
As the Republic shifted into an Empire, the stola lost popularity. For a bigger discussion on “why,” see my paper, but the probable causes included: Continue reading