Dress and the Roman woman: self-presentation and society

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Routledge, 2008 - Design - 171 pages
In ancient Rome, the subtlest details in dress distinguished between levels of hierarchy. Clothes were a key part of the sign systems of Roman civilisation ' a central aspect of its visual language, for women as well as men. This engaging book collects and examines literary references and artistic evidence to female clothing, cosmetics and ornament in Roman antiquity to decipher their meaning and reveal what it meant to be an adorned woman in Roman society. Cosmetics, ornament and fashion were often considered frivolous, wasteful or deceptive, which reflects ancient views about women; but, Kelly Olson argues, women often enjoyed fashioning themselves and many treated adornment as a significant activity, enjoying the social status, influence and power that it signified. This study makes a significant contribution our knowledge of Roman women, and will be essential reading for anyone interested in ancient Roman life.

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The clothing of women
The cosmetic arts and care of the body

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