Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bohemian Regional Style Outfit

From the seller:

Dimensions Measurements taken with article laying flat
Blouse: one size fits many (very adjustable)
Vest - across front: approx. 15" between underarms when tightly laced
Vest - length: approx. 13"
Skirt - waist: 30"
Skirt - length: 38"
Underskirt - waist: 34" max
Underskirt - length: 31"
Apron - length: 29"
Cap piece: 7" wide x 42" long
Condition Good Condition - staining to skirt; light wear to apron; rust to eyelets on vest and a couple missing eyelets; small round hole in skirt front (covered by apron); small stain on apron tie; light overall wear
Description This listing is for an antique urban folk costume from Bohemia. Includes a skirt, apron, blouse, vest, cap, and underskirt. The skirt is my favorite element of the outfit, and is likely the oldest. It is made of pale green floral brocade silk fabric that dates to the turn of the last century (100+ years old). Unfortunately, there are some stains to one section on the back of the skirt. The silk is quite delicate, so it's impressive that there are no tears to the fabric, though I recommend taking extreme care if you choose to wear the skirt due to its age. The vest is made of brown velvet, embroidered using metallic threads, and embellished with small green "gems". The cotton apron is beautifully embroidered in two rows along the bottom. The apron shows some areas of light wear and small damages - please view the images to see the type of wear. The white cotton blouse is delicately embroidered on the collar and cuffs. The underskirt has very nice hand embroidery around the entire bottom hem. The underskirt appears to be as old as the skirt and its original match, which is nice to find together. It's worth noting that the skirt and underskirt are very long, suitable for a very tall woman. These can both be shortened if desired by creating a tuck and folding the fabric back. The final element of the costume is the "winged cap", which is currently just a long strip of embroidered fabric that needs to be fashioned on a head and sewn into the correct shape for wearing. I pinned the cap on the mannequin head, but have shown it unfolded in two of the final photos below. I don't know the exact area of origin or age of this costume, but the pieces all feel to be from the first half of the 20th century. There is wear and minor damages associated with age and use, but overall the outfit is still very nice and presentable. The white elements of the costume are all clean and the only stains are the ones on the back of the skirt and a small spot on one of the apron ties. A great costume for anyone interested in Bohemian fashion history.

From Me:

I agree with the dating - the embroidery threw me a bit since it's an older style but was still being used until and into the late Victorian period. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a bit older than the rest of the outfit and just recycled. The petticoat is very much Edwardian though. I'm putting this in the 1900's for now.


  1. When it's a folk costume, going by the style of embroidery isn't going to help you - it's traditional, retaining older styles and adapting them, so dating by what was fashionable when isn't applicable. And Czech Art Nouveau actually often took inspiration from folk embroidery, so it's all muddled up.
    For example, I think most of these are more or less contemporary:
    A really nice find, though - a Czech person here. :-)

    1. Sorry I wasn't clear! I meant the metallic embroidery on the bodice. The petticoat embroidery is clearly early 20th century. The long, thin strands of metal thread on the bodice is a style most commonly seen in the late 18th/early 19th century. It does pop up again from time to time - it seems to have had a resurgence in the 1890's- but then goes away again. The embroidery of the petticoat is right in line with Edwardian styles of the day.

    2. Oh, right, I guess that's true, although I still stand by the claim that it's more difficult to tell with folk costumes. :-) But I wouldn't be surprised if the bodice was older than the rest of the outfit - after all, these clothes were often worn for decades. And it would have undoubtedly been special occasion clothes, so it would not get as much wear and could have easily been passed down in the family.
      To compare, this one's dated from the 1840s: