A toga party is a party at which attendees dress up in approximations of Ancient Roman dress. The Romans would probably have a difficult time recognizing the “togas” worn at these parties, since they are usually made from bedsheets which are draped in a very revealing fashion, in contrast with the heavy and concealing folds of the original toga. Toga parties tend to be especially popular on college campuses, especially in fraternities and sororities, although people who are not in college can hold them as well.
The origins of the toga party appear to lie in the 18th century, when people held parties in Roman dress as a form of entertainment. The nature of this 18th century fad underwent a dramatic shift in 1978, when the hit film Animal House depicted a much more raucous version of the toga party. The idea behind the modern toga party is a party which is meant to reference the legendarily profligate and decadent parties held in Ancient Rome, with an assortment of drinks, games, and food to entertain guests.
While the ancient toga was worn over a linen tunic, attendees at a modern toga party usually wear a strategically-draped bedsheet along with underwear, and, in the case of female attendees, jewelry like bracelets and necklaces. Sandals, especially sandals which lace up in the Roman style, are also a common part of the outfit, and some people may wear wreaths. Many people like to wear togas which they have improvised, making a toga party relatively inexpensive in the realm of costume parties, but it is also possible to purchase commercially-produced togas which may be tailored for a more revealing and form-fitting look.
Planning a toga party does not require much more effort than organizing a regular party. Giving guests around a week of notice is generally advisable, as is stocking up on an array of snacks and beverages. Finding someone to act as a DJ will help keep the music flowing, and at parties where people want to organize games, it may help to recruit a game planner and coordinator who gets the crowd enthused.