Monday, June 17, 2013

My Recreation of a Vestal Virgin Uniform

The Historical Novel Society Conference is just three days away and I am finally done with my Vestal Virgin costume for the contest. I am perhaps the worst seamstress in the world, but all-in-all, I think the costume turned out really well.

 I asked a friend of mine to model the costume to match different Vestal Virgin statues. She did a great job! I would have done the modeling myself, but I'm seven months pregnant, so I would look significantly different from the statues. It'll be amusing for the conference, but not quite what I envisioned for the pictures.

 These pictures show a close-up view of the infula, a red head-band the vestals always wore. If you ever see a Roman statue with this headband on, you know you're looking at a Vestal Virgin.

The infula was probably the hardest thing to make. I couldn't figure out what to do for them so I asked Janet Stephens, the historical hairdresser extraordinaire, how she made them in her video Recreating the Vestal Virgin Hairstyle. She sewed together cotton filler cord and dyed it red. Brilliant!   

The first two statues you see in this post are in museums, but the ones above and below are still in the Vestal Virgin house, which is still standing (more or less) in the Roman forum.

Making this costume gave me excellent insight into the characters in my novel -- so much so that I wish I had made it when I first started working on the book. From now on, I will always try to recreate my characters' clothes so I can have an idea of what it was like to wear them.

I hope you had fun looking at my pictures! Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the Vestal Virgin uniform in the comments; I'll be happy to discuss them with you.


  1. So fun! Great job - this is amazing! And I quite enjoy the irony of you modeling this beautiful outfit. :)

  2. I LOVE THIS!!! (Is that strong enough?) I can't wait to see you in it, and can't wait to catch up in person.

  3. My daughter wants to make the same type of habit. How did you make it? How much fabric did you use? Did you see it? Or wrap it around and pin it??

  4. Replies
    1. Goodness, it's been a while since I made it, so I'll try and remember... Are you talking about the part on her head? That's just a square piece of fabric. I pinned it to her hair and then tied the ropes over the pins.


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