The Byzantine garment was quite different from the traditional European garment of the early middle ages as well as later period. At the same time, at the beginning of the Byzantine Empire, the Byzantine garment basically followed the lead of the traditional Roman garment. However, in the time of Justinian, the Byzantine garment had started to change becoming looser and longer. The traditional toga was replaced by tunica or chiton for both sexes. Representatives of upper classes wore dalmatica, a heavier and shorter type of tunica. Also representatives of the upper classes wore a riding-coat of the Persian origin, which was the marker of the social status of an individual. At the same time, the Byzantine garment was a symbol of the social standing of an individual. For instance, the purple was the color of the royal family and people wearing purple clothes were traditionally associated with the royal family and, therefore, were highly respected.
Furthermore, the Byzantine garment included leggings which were often worn and which were new for Byzantine and were not inherited from the Roman times. In fact, the changes that occurred to the Byzantine garment were, to a significant extent, determined by the technological progress and changes in manufacturing of clothes. For instance, new technologies allowed tailors to create leggings, which were quite difficult to create in the time of the Roman Empire. At the same time, the Byzantine garment had its own style, which is still popular because it is simple but still it can demonstrate the position of an individual in the society or his or her interests that makes this style popular even today.
Dawson, T. (2006). Women’s Dress in Byzantium, in Garland, Lynda (ed), Byzantine women: varieties of experience 800-1200, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Runciman, S. (1975). Byzantine Style and Civilization, New York: Penguin.