So today, I'll explain a little about Swedish folk costumes.
There's no such thing as an original "uniform Swedish folk costume". The costumes were only worn by the people in the countryside, farmers, their families and servants, and it changed and developed over hundreds of years, and look very different in different parts of Sweden. Some areas have no documented folk costumes at all. Many factors contributed to make the local costumes look the way they did, such as when the areas had it's times of economic affluence or poverty, what access to imported fabrics they had, the local ideas of propriety and fashion and so on. In some areas the late 18th century and early 19th century is clearly recognised in the costumes. In other areas you can trace parts of the costumes to the 16th and 17th centuries, or even to the middle ages. When an area had a lot of money, they invested in the latest fashions (interpreted by their local tailors) and when the times went bad, the fashion was fossilised, as it where. The folk costumes went out of use in most of Sweden during the 19th century. Here are a few different costumes (I've blotted out the faces, so as not to get in trouble):
A couple from the county Södermanland:
A girl from the county Västergötland (who should have her hair dressed and wear some form of head covering):
A woman from the county Dalarna (that has one of the greatest variety of costumes, this is just one of them):
A woman from the county Hälsingland:
There's not really a good picture out there of anyone wearing the costume I'm making. Not that no one's making it, but because most people cheat, and change the clothes to fit their idea of how it should look, and leave out some articles of clothing altogether. As a researcher, seamstress and wearer of historic costumes, this is quite upsetting. Why do it at all, if you won't do it right, I wonder? Well, here's a picture from the 1830's of a woman wearing a costume from my area, the southwest corner of the county Skåne:
The headdress in the picture is only for married women, so I won't be wearing that for a while yet. The costume consists of these parts, presented in the order you should have put them on:
- A white, sleeveless linen shift, called hankasärk in this particular area.
- Black woolen stockings.
- A short, white linen "blouse" for want of a better word, called opplöt. It has a wide gathered collar, which might be made out of fine cotton, a very expensive fabric in that day.
- A knitted woolen sweater, called spedetröja. It was felted until it lost its stretchiness. It was usually green, red, blue or black. Trimmed at neck and wrists with silk or velvet ribbons.
- A bodice, liv, in silk, velvet or wool. It could have pretty much any color, but black, green and blue was most common. It is laced with a silver chain through silver buckles, and it also could be decorated with silk ribbons. At the bottom was sewn a linen roll, stuffed with flax. On this the skirts was supported. The roll was called pölsa, sausage.
- Two or more woolen skirts. Again, green, blue and black was common. The skirts could have decoration of tucks or silk ribbons.
- A striped apron, in wool or cotton. Blues, greens and reds where common.
- A neck kerchief in silk.
- A headdress. If you where married you wore the starched, white, linen klut, as in the picture. Unmarried women could wear a headdress made mostly out of red ribbons (for parties and weddings) or a colored, cotton head kerchief, put on the head and tied at the nape of the neck.
This took a while... I wonder if anyone will have the endurance to read it all?
Edit (15 August 2013): I've posted a short guide to researching Swedish folk costumes.