Zeeland traditional costumes

Until halfway through the last century, people regularly wore traditional costume in Zeeland. Now the bonnets, the gilt clasps, the aprons have all been hung away in the wardrobe. Plenty of local museums proudly show how people used to dress. You’ll see the differences in clothing and jewellery from island to island, place to place.

Want to know more about Zeeland’s traditional costumes? If so, read on ...

Different costumes

People used to make a clear distinction between Sunday dress, work clothes and mourning attire. With each island community being isolated from the others, there were noticeable differences between their costumes. No wonder that Zeeland had more costume variations than any other province. Each island its own, with variations even between villages and localities. Read more about the different local costumes.


The disappearance of traditional costume

Gradually, the costumes of Zeeland disappeared from public view. Social habits were evolving, there were practical issues and periods of poverty all helped to persuade people to hang up their proud outfits and wear ‘civvies’ instead. It was always the men who abandoned tradition first, followed by the children, and finally the women. At a census late last century, 165 were still wearing Zeeland's regional dress. 

Museums with traditional costume

Whilst the numbers of people wearing traditional costume have been declining, interest in local costume has been on the rise. Clothes and accessories that were no longer worn ended up in museums. For example, in Historisch Museum De Bevelanden you can marvel at the local costumes of Noord and Zuid-Beveland. Likewise, Arnemuiden costumes at the Museum Arnemuiden. Did you also know that Arnemuiden nowadays is one of the few places in Zeeland where a number of women still dress up in traditional costume?

Zeeland traditional costume preservation groups

As fewer people wore traditional dress, so too rose the interest in them. Clothing, jewels and accessories found their way from the wardrobe to the museum. Throughout Zeeland there are groups committed to such attire keeping and restoring it, alongside the knowledge of how to wear it all. Special events often feature fashion shows in traditional costume. The goal is always to hold local dress high in esteem, and uphold their honour. Check out some of the groups preserving traditional costume in Zeeland.

Get your picture taken

Many local photographers will happily immortalise you wearing a local costume of Zeeland. Pull on a skirt, a bonnet or apron and have yourself photographed in traditional Zeeland costume, for example, at Wijngaard Westerhoeve.

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