These women were priestesses of the Roman goddess Vesta who was the Roman goddess of the hearth. Vestal virgins were chosen by lot and given the task of maintaining the sacred fire in Vesta’s temple in Rome. The women who were selected as Vestal Virgins remained in this role for thirty years after which time they could leave and marry.
Vestal Virgins Clothing
The Vestal Virgins took a sacred vow of chastity and the clothing of the Vestal Virgins was therefore predominantly white which symbolised their purity. The main items of clothing worn by Vestal Virgins were as follows:
- Fascia - a simple brassiere (bra) in the form of a band, tightly tied around the body
- Mamillare - Tight band bound about the bust
- Tunica - chemise
- Stola - robe
- Stophium - chord or girdle
- Palla - cloak
- The Vitta - simple fillet or headband
- Infula - ceremonial headband
- Suffibulum - veil
Vestal Virgins Clothing
The Vestal virgins Clothing consisted of an item of underwear called a tunica interior, or subucula, a chemise which was worn next to the skin and reached the knees. The white woollen tunic had a purple border called the insita. Outside the tunic was a chord or girdle which supported the breasts and was called a strophium. Over the tunic the Vestal Virgins wore a stola. The stola was an outer garment reaching the ankles. Over the stola the Vestal Virgins wore a long shawl, called a palla, when they went outside.
Vestal Virgins Clothing - Hairstyles and Head coverings
The sex crines was the hairstyle adopted by the Vestal Virgins consisting of between three and six plaits of hair. The Vitta was a simple cloth strip used to bind the hair and keep it off the face, commonly known as a fillet or headband. The infula was a band of white wool which was wound round the head and worn during religious ceremonies. The Vitta and Infula were wrapped carefully and had several folds. Vestal Virgins wore a Suffibulum which was a veil which was worn especially while sacrificing. The Suffibulum veil was short and white with a purple border and kept in place with a brooch called a fibula.
Vestal Virgins Clothing - Shoes and Sandals
The Vestal virgins wore three types of shoes. The solea which was the common Roman sandal. The calceus which was the common Roman shoe and finally the mitten sandal which had a loop into which the big toe was placed. The shoes worn by the Vestal Virgins were always white and were made from the skins of sacrificed animals.