Wonder Woman’s Outfit Not Swimsuity Enough

People always complain about Wonder Woman’s outfit not being authentic because it “looks like a swimsuit.”

Well, sure, her creator William Marston was creepy, but he wasn’t totally pulling the idea out of his butt. He actually made it less authentic and more Forties-friendly by making it a one-piece, but this is what sportswomen in Ancient Rome wore:


The bandeau top is a “strophium” or several other vocab words. The bikini bottom is a “subligar,” which for guys was called a “subligaculum”. (Which literally means something like “butt-binder.”)

Typical Amazon outfits in Greek and Roman art vary widely.

Amazon cavalry: Sarmatian outfits with spotted leopardskin cloak on leader or priestess, pointy hats on some, boots almost covered by leggings (sometimes striped, spotted, checked, or in contrasting colors to the over-robes), and with both leggings and striped long sleeves covered by short over-robes with wraparound necks. Small batwing-shaped shields. Weapons: spears, hand axes, compound bows, swords. Amazons are frequently shown riding milk-white grey horses, often stallions. Amazon charioteers frequently drive similar horses.

Amazon foot: typically very similar to whatever the men fighting them wear. (Greek helmet, Greek round shield, spear, and knife/shortsword for armored hoplite Amazons, lighter clothing for the non-armored types.) Leader usually wears belted spotted leopardskin cloak. Women usually wear short breeches over naked legs instead of a kilted-up robe like the men. On the Etruscan “Sarcophagus of the Amazons,” we see most of the Amazon foot wearing white short robes, red short robes with white/pink edging (and a leg slit), or white short robes with red/pink edging, all of them belted and with wraparound necklines; gold earrings and necklaces; low shoes; and pointy hats. Long hair is bound up in back and piled under the hat. One Amazon footsoldier carries a batwing shield and her weapon is invisible. Another is using a sword and carrying a compound bow. Other vase paintings show a mixture of round shields and crescent-shaped shields. Some footsoldiers carry a couple of spears slotted into their crescent/batwing shield, while fighting with a sword. Some carry a compound bow while fighting with spears. Many show Amazons wearing a sort of all-over bodysuit (usually decorated with spots, stripes, or zigzags), while possibly wearing short overrobes or girdles wrapped around their waists in contrasting patterns (like circles vs stars). Other weapons include rocks (maces?) and combat hand-axes of various lengths. (Usually one. At least one is shown carrying two slung on her back, presumably in slots in her shield like the spear/shield ladies mentioned before; and with a bow in hand.) Occasionally you get peplum jackets.

Amazon archers: sometimes dressed like other Amazon infantry and cavalry, sometimes dressed like Greek archers or hunters, with short robes that only go over one shoulder, no leggings, and buskin boots or shoes. (Much like similar depictions of Artemis the huntress.) Quiver is usually slung at the side, with the opening towards the front at nearly belt level.

With all Amazons, you occasionally get them represented with only one breast, or with one breast showing out of their jackets. Because of the etymology story. There are also times when the legging-less footsoldiers are shown with their robes kilted up so far that their butts show, as with many Greek footsoldier men. However, it’s more likely to see bodysuited, jacketed women fighting nearly naked Greek guys, or guys in skimpy armor. This is ironic….

They are also occasionally shown with long tunics that have a band of Sarmatian embroidery going down the front.

Amazons at home in peacetime: long robes, jewelry, crowns, etc. Also the undress huntress outfits mentioned above.

Amazon legends, together with their literary sources.

A list of named Amazons in Greek and Roman legend.

Here are some nice Amazonomachy pics. Most of them show the “Sarmatian” Amazon look.

The Sarcophagus of the Amazons.

Lots of Amazon art in black and white, with explanatory text. Some of the pictures will enlarge.

More Amazons.

The Gela Krater.

Amazons at Wikimedia.

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