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Stola

Stola

The stola was the staple garment of the married woman in ancient Rome. It was a long gown, generally sleeveless, that hung nearly to the feet. The stola was generally worn over a tunica intima, a light inner shirt. It was often fastened at the shoulders by small clasps called fibulae. The stola was typically worn with two belts: one fastened just below the breasts, creating blousy folds, and another wider belt fastened around the waist. The stola could have several forms of decoration. A stola worn by a wealthier woman might have a limbus, a separate piece of fabric with many folds that was sewn into the hem, making it appear that another gown was worn beneath. Simpler stolas had a band of color or a pattern at the hem and many stolas had a band of color near the neckline. Stolas appeared to have been made in a variety of colors, from bleached white to red, yellow, and blue. Stolas were generally made of wool or cotton, but wealthy women might wear a stola made of silk.

As well as being a functional piece of clothing, the stola served an important social function. In ancient Rome the position that people occupied in society was very important, and clothes were used as symbols of social position or status. The stola was a sign that the woman wearing it was married. Single women or divorced women were forbidden from wearing the stola.

Like most of women's clothing in ancient Rome, the stola changed very little over time. Statues dating from early in the Roman Republic (50927 b.c.e.) to late in the Roman Empire (27 b.c.e.476 c.e.) all show women garbed in a similar, traditional stola, usually accompanied by the other staple women's garment, the palla, a large wrap.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

Robinson, Scott R. "Roman." Costume History. http://www.cwu.edu/robinsos/ppages/resources/Costume_History/roman.htm (accessed on July 24, 2003).

Symons, David J. Costume of Ancient Rome. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

[See also Volume 1, Ancient Rome: Palla ; Volume 1, Ancient Rome: Tunica ]

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Stola

Stola

The stola was the basic garment worn by women during the years of the Byzantine Empire (4761453 c.e.). The stola was a long dress, sewn along both sides from the hem at the bottom all the way to the arms. The stola was usually worn with a belt placed just below the bustline. Typically made of linen or light wool, the stola also could be made of silk, the fabric preferred by the very wealthy. Like many Byzantine garments, the stola was based on the women's stola worn in the Roman Empire (27 b.c.e.476 c.e.).

The stola was part of a layered outfit. It was worn over the top of a long underdress and a shorter tunic, either of which might have had long sleeves. Byzantine women, in keeping with their culture's modesty, never appeared in public with bare arms.

The Byzantine stola became more complex and ornamented over time. Early stolas were sleeveless, but by the seventh or eighth century c.e. stolas began to appear with long sleeves, with later varieties having bell-shaped or flared sleeves. By about the eleventh century c.e., stolas were commonly made of thick silk brocades with raised patterns in silver and gold, and they were decorated with a variety of patterns and embroidery. Members of the royal family commonly wore stolas of rich purple and gold. Stolas worn by other women might be deep blue, red, or white.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Batterberry, Michael, and Ariane Batterberry. Fashion: The Mirror of History. New York: Greenwich House, 1977.

Cosgrave, Bronwyn. The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.

[See also Volume 1, Ancient Rome: Stola ]

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