The dalmatica was a Roman variation of one of the most common garments, the tunica, or shirt. Late in the Roman Empire (27 B.C.E. –476 C.E. ) variations on the tunic grew more fanciful and elaborate. One such variation was the dalmatica. At first it had long sleeves and a bell-shaped hem that could reach from the knees to as low as the floor. As time went on, however, the forms of the dalmatica grew more elaborate. Clavi, or stripes, often graced both sides of the garment, and the mode of cutting the sleeves could be narrow at the wrist and broad at the shoulder, or vice versa. Over time the dalmatica became increasingly long and flowing, and it was often worn over a tunica, for men, or in place of the stola, or dress, for women. In this longer form it was adapted as one of the many ecclesiastical or church-related garments worn by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church. The dalmatica also became one of the most common garments of the Byzantine Empire (476–1453 C.E. ), which emerged after the collapse of the Roman Empire as the dominant society in the Mediterranean region.
Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Symons, David J. Costume of Ancient Rome. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.