Togas first appear in the days of the ancient Romans and were a symbol of citizenship in the Empire. In the ensuing 2,000 years, the costume has come to embody refinement, antiquity and Bacchanalian excess in a single length of fabric. Togas can be made at home using simple materials and worn as Halloween costumes, dress-up balls, or the ubiquitous "Animal House"-style frat party. The basics are very easy to grasp, though the materials may take a little more effort than most people think.
A toga consists of a single length of cloth wrapped around your body. Contrary to popular belief, sheets rarely make for a good toga. They work, but proper fitted sheets are quite expensive, and can be ruined by spilled ceremonial wine or sacred bean dip. Instead, go to a cloth store and select 4 to 5 yards of fabric in a color you like. The exact length may vary a bit depending upon your particular body shape. Four yards is usually sufficient, but if you get a little extra, you can always snip a few inches off the end to make it fit. Most fabric comes in uniform widths (about 5 feet), so you won't need to worry about whether it's wide enough. The cost is considerably less than that of a sheet and the toga can be discarded more readily in case of accidents.
Wearing a Toga
To make a toga, start with the length of cloth you purchased: fold it in half lengthwise so that it forms a long, thin strip. Hold one end to the right side of your waist and wrap it around your middle one-and-a-half times, across the starting position to the left side of your waist. Pin it in place on the right and left sides of your waist, then toss the remaining length of cloth across your chest and over your right shoulder. Wrap it across your back the opposite way, then pin it to your waist again. If there's any cloth left, drape it over your left arm. If you're left-handed, simply start on the left side of your waist instead of your right and proceed in reverse.
Always consider proper accessories when making a toga; they give the costume that extra touch of the Romanesque. For starters, you'll need footwear. Open-toed leather sandals are ideal, but you can also make do with simpler sandals or flip-flops. Consider a laurel for your head. You can make one by wrapping a wire coat hangar in a circle just above your ears, then wrapping plastic ivy around the wire. Use jewelry to further accessorize if you wish, along with a plastic sword or Roman scepter to carry with you.
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