What Did Roman Soldiers Wear?

Roman soldiers wore a variety of clothes, including socks, loincloths, leg wraps, trousers, armor, cloaks, belts and sandals. Roman soldiers, like civilians, dressed according to weather conditions during the different seasons. Soldiers wore heavier fabrics, such as wool, in the wintertime and switched to clothing made of light, loose and breathable linen and cotton during warmer weather.

Although the fabrics and styles of Roman soldiers’ clothing varied according to the seasons, color remained largely the same. Clothing for soldiers came primarily in dyed or undyed form. Dyed clothes came in red while clothes without dye featured a natural off-white shade. Some items, like loincloths and socks, outfitted soldiers year-round. Loincloths, essentially underwear, came in linen and wool fabrics for summer and winter wear. Soldiers’ socks featured several different designs. Some styles fit like stockings, while others left soldiers’ toes and heels uncovered. Soldiers wore military belts, tunics and lappets in preparation for battle. Belts gave them a way to hold weapons while tunics acted as tank tops or undershirts. Soldiers displayed decorative ornaments and medals on lappets, essentially long, thick apron skirts. Soldiers donned segmented armor during battles, and marched wearing military sandals or boots, called “caligae.” Scarves fastened around soldiers’ necks during the winter to provide extra warmth and prevent skin chaffing and blisters.