Did Women Wear Underwear In Ancient Rome

Did Women Wear Underwear in Ancient Rome?

Did Women Wear Underwear in Ancient Rome?


In the study of ancient civilizations, understanding the everyday lives of its people can provide valuable insights into their culture, customs, and social norms. Clothing, as an essential aspect of human existence, plays a significant role in illuminating the daily lives of individuals in ancient societies. This article aims to investigate whether women in ancient Rome wore underwear, a question that has intrigued scholars and historians for centuries.

Historical Context

Ancient Rome, renowned for its grandeur and influence, existed from the 8th century BCE to the 5th century CE. Over this expansive timeline, Roman fashion underwent various transformations, adapting to changes in societal norms, climate, and cultural influences. Exploring the undergarments of women in ancient Rome requires considering the era’s prevailing attitudes towards hygiene, modesty, and social class.

Evidence from Ancient Texts

Ancient texts provide some insight into the undergarments worn by women in ancient Rome. One such text is Martial’s Epigrams, written in the 1st century CE. Martial mentions a type of undergarment, known as the subligaculum, which was primarily worn by men. Although this text does not explicitly pertain to women’s undergarments, it indirectly implies that some form of undergarment existed in Roman society.

Anecdotal Evidence

The anecdotal evidence surrounding this topic is limited and primarily relies on the analysis of surviving artifacts, such as sculptures and frescoes. In these depictions, women are often portrayed wearing long, flowing garments known as tunics, which were the primary outerwear in ancient Rome. However, the absence of visible undergarments in these artistic representations raises questions about whether women wore any undergarments at all.

Archaeological Evidence

Archaeological excavations have uncovered a range of artifacts that shed light on this intriguing topic. Discoveries of woven fabrics, primarily made of linen, suggest the presence of undergarments in ancient Rome. For instance, fragments of linen undergarments were found in the ruins of a Roman laundry at Pompeii, preserved beneath layers of ash from the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

Hygiene Practices

To comprehend the likelihood of women wearing undergarments in ancient Rome, it is crucial to consider hygiene practices of the time. Romans placed great importance on cleanliness and health, engaging in regular bathing rituals to maintain personal hygiene. The use of undergarments, which could absorb perspiration and prevent fabrics from coming into direct contact with the body, would have aligned with their hygiene standards.

Modesty and Social Norms

Modesty was an important aspect of Roman society, particularly for women. Adhering to social norms, women typically wore multiple layers of clothing to ensure the appropriate level of modesty in public. Undergarments, if worn, would have served as an additional layer of protection, safeguarding the modesty of women by preventing the accidental exposure of their bodies.


While the question of whether women wore underwear in ancient Rome might never be definitively answered, the available evidence suggests that undergarments likely existed in Roman society. Both ancient texts and archaeological finds provide valuable clues, but further research and analysis are necessary to gain a more comprehensive understanding. Considering the cultural value placed on hygiene and modesty, it is plausible that women in ancient Rome utilized undergarments as part of their everyday attire.

Velma Lee

Velma E. Lee is an acclaimed writer and historian. She has a deep passion for studying ancient civilizations, which is reflected in her writing. She has authored numerous articles, essays, and books on the subject which have been featured in leading publications. In addition to her writing, she has also appeared on television and radio programs to discuss her work. Velma has earned a distinguished reputation as an expert in her field and continues to explore the mysteries of ancient civilizations.

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