What Did the Roman Gladiators Wear?
Roman gladiators fought bare-chested, but they wore canvas loincloths to preserve their modesty. They were allowed to wear sandals, but many chose not to. Gladiators also wore protective armor over their arms and legs. Outside of the coliseum, gladiators wore simple wool tunics, but on special occasions, they wore more expensive clothes; however, they were restricted to tunics and cloaks.
Gladiators wrapped leather and cloth strips over their arms and wrists for padding, known as the manicae. They wore two belts: the balteus, a sword belt, and the cingulum, a wide leather belt reinforced with metal plates that protected the waist from injury. A metal leg guard called the ocra protected their legs from the knees to the shins, and it was worn with the fascia to protect the skin. The fascia was made of leather or cloth. Gladiators also wore the distinctive metal shoulder guard called the galerus. Underneath their armor, gladiators wore protective padded linen that was sometimes supplemented with straw. The subarmalis, as this was called, prevented chafing.
Gladiators were allowed to keep whatever purses and rewards they earned, so they could afford higher quality and more attractive everyday wear. However, the Roman sumptuary laws prevented them from wearing anything forbidden to slaves.