Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Stacie Raucci




Fashion, women, Rome


Fashion transcends its own role of imagery, as it becomes the medium through which individuals express their place in society. Fashion history would not consider the ancient world as part of the history of the discipline. Nevertheless, the function of dress in ancient cultures like that of Rome has definitely helped shape social hierarchies that are still present today. Clothing structured Roman society deeply, just as class, race, and sexuality did. Scholar Kelly Olson (2002) defines the function of clothing as part of a sign system. This study argues that dress in ancient Rome goes beyond this idea, in that it is not only a tool that provides certain signs, but it also communicates deep messages of social inequalities. This thesis focuses on exploring the experience that women had in classical antiquity with respect to the different perception other social groups had about their dress. To do this, the thesis carefully dissects ancient pieces of clothing by texture, fabric, color, and overall design to analyze the impact each element and component had on ancient Roman culture.