Czech Folk Costumes

Written by Marie Haklova

Category: Czech Tradition

“Kroj” is a Czech folk costume. Clothes like that, are an important part of Czech folk culture. A wide variety of costume types have been created throughout history in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.

Czech folk costume is characteristic clothes of a certain group. It is distinguished by occasions for festive, work and everyday life, and also by the age of the users, their employment, social affiliation and even religion. Each costume features unmistakable elements such as embroidery, lace, color of material, material itself and cut. Costumes look different for single people and for married people. They also vary according to the season. In winter, they are added shorter or longer coats, bodices and various other components to it. The costumes of the poorer simple people were often made of more archaic materials and people also used simple decoration like batik, blueprint or geometric embroidery. While folk costumes for rich people were made of more expensive fabrics like velvet and satin. It had colored beads, richer embroidery and lace.

Costumes obviously change from region to region. They reflected the living conditions and character in the area. It is logical that they looked different in the rich fertile Hana and different in the poor foothills.

Folk costume is actually something like a living organism. It always kept the old by using proven and suitable features, and transferred it in more or less changed form to the next generations. But of course it was influenced by contemporary styles (Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Biedemayer), even though, fashion has made its way to it very slowly and difficult. Stylish purity of the costume is usually guarded by a generally respected person right in the village or neighborhood such as a well-known costume seamstress, an embroidery woman, a woman to whom others went for advice that tied them complex scarves. News in clothing in countryside were being promoted much more slowly than in bigger cities. It took a lot of courage to make a new idea that people would accept and the trend would be not only enforced, but also that its wearer wouldn´t make anyone angry.

Folk costumes are not worn in the Czech Republic for many generations. In Bohemia people stopped wearing them as everyday clothing in the middle of the 19th century and gradually became a clothing history. Only in one small area of western Bohemia called Chodsko were preserved until about the middle of the 20th century and their remains can be seen here to this day.

Despite the fact that folk costumes have disappeared from everyday life, there have been many traditional and cultural occasions, where these costumes are still being used, especially for numerous folklore activities. Today the folk clothing is a symbol of ever-maintained or renewed folk celebrations and customs and national pride. You can see it at folk festivals and celebrations, in not only regional museums and if you are not felling like traveling you can just watch basically any Czech fairytale and there is big chance you are going to see traditional Czech clothing.