All through the ages, the way we dressed was an outer mirror for our feelings and pride, being national, self or any other pride. There is something very unique in the way we express our nation, in the same way our many ancestors did. To show our past and out heritage in different colors and types of traditional european clothing is no easy task, but luckily for us, it’s passed down through our bloodlines. Here is how Europeans do it!
Traditional German clothing
In the old time Germany, it was all about the status- political, social or any other kind. So to identify your status, you wore a type of clothes that is called tracht. The two main pieces of clothing were a dirndl and a lederhosen. They are still being used at Oktoberfest.
Dirndl is traditional women dress, based on the traditional clothing of Alps peasants. It’s actually a two-piece ruffle apron dress. Women wore a blouse or a bodice with the apron dress and completed their outfit with simple leather
shoes with a small heel. This type of dress was worn by servant girls, but today, it’s still being worn in Bavaria and Austria, for celebrations.
Lederhosen literally translate as ‘leather pants’ in German, usually knee-height, were worn by the working-class men and are still being used for celebrations. To complete the outfit, men wore haferl shoes– once used for farming, and an Alpine hat.
Traditional Irish clothing
The Irish are probably most recognized in their Aran sweaters and the world famous kilts. But most often, women and men alike, wore a simple knee-length leine, or shirts. Women used it as a undergarments covered by open-sleeved dresses.
Aran sweaters are made from water-repellent wool, which is perfect for the weather in Ireland, but are also very ‘breathable’ for when the Sun finally shines. Besides being useful, legends say there are also symbolic- the honeycomb patter symbolizes the hard work of bees and the sweetness of honey.
Kilts are, as we all know, skirts only worn at special occasions and sports event, by men. They used to be full-length, but then were shortened. Depending on the family name, the pattern and the color differ.
Traditional Russian clothing
The two most historic clothing are kosovorotka and sarafan dress.
Kosovorotka was a long-sleeve shirt worn by men. It doesn’t have the usual buttoning- all the way down the shirt, but has several buttons at the collar, to one side. The collar is shorter than the usual type, and can be decorated with a pattern or colors.
Sarafan is a long, trapezoid shaped dress decorated with vibrant colors, worn by women. Originally, these were worn by men, but time changed that. Even though, sarafans were meant for work and daily wear, they look remarkably festive and are used for folk singing and folk dancing. Plain sarafans are still being designed and worn as a light-summer dress.
To accompany the sarafan, women and girls wore kokoshnik. Kokoshnik is a traditional Russian headwear- like a tiara or a crown with many different patterns and decorations. Historically, it was worn by married women, but maidens wore a similar headweare to kokoshnik, called povyazka. The difference was povyazka was opened in the back.
Traditional Polish clothing
The Polish traditional clothing vary by region. In one region, women wore white shirts with a vest that is embroidered and beaded on front and back, a floral full skirt, an apron, a red coral bead necklace, and lace-up boots. Unmarried women wore flower wreath with ribbons, while married women wore a white kerchief on their head.
The men wore a blue embroidered waistcoat, stripped pants, and a krakuska cap decorated with feathers and metal rings.
Traditional Greek clothing
The Ancient Greeks wore chiton and peplos– simple garments that draped over their bodies. The chitons were sleeveless, while peplos cover a portion of the arm.
Over this, they wore himation– a type of cloak. Those clothing were made from wool.
Then we have the foustanella or fustanella– a skirt-type garment once worn by warriors, similar to the kilt.
For women, we have the karagouna– a traditional wedding dress, which is very colorful and quite heavy. It includes many layers, starting with black-fringed white underdress, and being topped by a red apron. Karagouna was usually pared with a head kerchief and chains of gold coins across her forehead and bosom to signify wealth.
Traditional Italian clothing
A folk performance is not only music to your ears, but also a sight for sour eyes. The women wear colorful skirts and bodices over light-weight blouses, with elaborate hats decorated with flowers or fruit. Men’s traditional clothing is a bit less complicated, but still full of details, with embroidery and metal buttons and pins.
Italian peasants wore simple pants and shirts for the men and blouses and skirts for the women, sometimes with a bodice. These were very practical for daily work. Usually gray or black color, because it was the most inexpensive, back then, these were made from orbace– a type of wool which is waterproof.
Peasant women wore hats that were actually square, flat section that curved down to cover the back of the head and the neck. The flat top helped the women carry baskets to market. This hat eventually evolved into hats for wealthier women, decorated with flowers and feathers.
Wealthy women didn’t dress that much differently than the peasant women. The difference was in the fabric they were made from and many jewelry they wore.
For festivals, every piece of clothing was vibrant and colorful, no matter the status of the person wearing it. The dresses were passed to daughters for generations.
These traditional european clothing give us the value of tradition and help us realize the enormous pass each of us carries within. Traditional clothing shows us how unique and different we all are. They survived centuries, and we should nurture these pieces left for us by our ancestors. Don’t you think?