Ethnic Clothes: The Dutch


Figure 1.--Baggy trousers and wooden shoes are two of the classic styles associated with Dutch ethnic dress.

Working class boys, especiallys boys in rural areas, were more likely to wear identifiable Dutch styles--today referred to as folk styles. Folk dress persisted in some isolated areas such as Marken Island into the 20th century. One of the most distinctive aspects of Dutch folk costume is wooden shoes or clogs. Wooden shoes were widely worn by peasant farmers and the urban working-class throughout Europe--but no where were they as widely worn as in the Netherlands. Many Dutch boys in the late 19th century went to school in wooden shoes--perhaps the most famous Dutch garment, but were also widely worn in Germany, Belgium and France. Perhaps the most destinctive folk garment for boys and men are large baggy trousers--apparently the inspiration for knockerbockers. In the Netherlands, clothing was was very regional bound. Every region/village had his own dress with his own man-copy style for boys: all people wear the same cloth. Some Dutch regions are known by tourists from all over the world (Volendam, Marken, Urk, and others). In a few regions this regional bound wear is still worn by the old woman, and all people on special occassions. There is a lot of information on this subject. But in virtually all of these regional folk costumes, boys wear is just a copy of adult men's wear.

Background

Few small countries have played such an important role in history as the Dutch. It was the valiant war for independence from the Spanish that began Spain's long decline as a world power. The Dutch played a key role in the development of democracy and protestantism in Europe. The Dutch played an important role in the spread of European culture around the world through their merchant fleet which helped to finance the industrial revoution.

Chronology

HBC does not have adequate chronological information on folk dress at this time. We do not know when folk styles began to decline in popularity. It would seem to be in large measure a 20th century phenomnon. We suspect that vthe rise of the mass media was a major factor. We have noted folk dress being worn, however, eben afyer World War I (1914-18). A 1929 photograph, for example, shows boys wearing suits with folk styling. Hopefully our Dutch readers will provide some information on chronological trends.

Folk Garments

The Dutch wore a variety of picturesque garments. Perhaps the destinctive were the caps worn by women and girls. Many were quite elaborate. Some but not all has high peaks. Dutch folk dress is also famous for baggy trousers, the original inspiration for knickerbockers or knickers. Perhaps the most destinctive folk garment for boys and men are large baggy trousers--apparently the inspiration for knickerbockers. And of course the Dutch are also famous for wooden shoes although they were widely worn in France, Germany, and other countries. One of the most distinctive aspects of Dutch folk costume is wooden shoes or clogs. Wooden shoes were widely worn by peasant farmers and the urban working-class throughout Europe--but no where were they as widely worn as in the Netherlands. Many Dutch boys in the late 19th century went to school in wooden shoes. They were wommonly worn by both boys and girls.

Social Class

HBC has only limited information, but it seems that working class boys, especiallys boys in rural areas, were more likely to wear identifiable Dutch styles--today referred to as folk styles.

Popularity

HBC believes that folk costumes were still widely worn in the Netherlands during the 19th century, especially in rural areas. Folk costumes began to become less common in the late 19th century and by the eraly 20th century were no longer common, except in isolated areas like Maarken Island.


Figure 2.--Dutch folk costumes are modeled by both children and adults here. Note the baggy trousers the boys are wearing. We think this is Volendam.

Regions

Folk dress persisted in some isolated areas such as Marken Island well into the 20th century. In the Netherlands, clothing was was very regional bound. Every region/village had his own dress with his own man-copy style for boys: all people wear the same cloth. Some Dutch regions are known by tourists from all over the world (Volendam, Marken, Urk, and others). In a few regions this regional bound wear is still worn by the old woman, and all people on special occassions. There is a lot of information on this subject. But in virtually all of these regional folk costumes, boys wear is just a copy of adult men's wear.

Maarken Island

Maarken Island is a picturesque Dutch fishing village where you still might see folk outfits into the 20th century. Boys were outfitted in dresses in Maarken. We think the reason was similar to the why Irish boys were outfitted in flannel dresses, to protect them from the faries. Maarken boys and girls wore identical dresses and the same long blond ringlets until they were 6 or 7 years old. The only ways the boys could be distinguished from the girl was my the different decoration they wore on their caps. From 7 to 12 the boys donned baggy trousers but from the waist up kept the upper part of the dress along with the curls. If you happen to see an old Dutch postcard with little girls wearing trousers these are really little Maarken boys. A HBC contributor reports first coming across this while planning a trip to Europe during the 1960s. The was a paragraph in a travel book titled "A quaint custom on the Isle of Maarken". I think the custom lingered late into the 20th century because by this time Maarken had changed from a fishing village to a tourist stop where people came to see the unique Maarken dress. HBC has few details on this custom and only a few images, but hope to pursue the topic further.

Volendam

Volendam means 'filled in dam'.. It is a picteresque medieval fishing village in North Holand. Today it is a popular tourist attraction, known for its fishing boats and the traditional clothing which some of the inhabitants still wear. The women's costume include high, pointed bonnets. It is one of the most recognizable of the various Dutch traditional costumes, commonly pictured on tourist postcards and posters. Only a small number of people wearing the costume as their every day dress, but you see more on special days. There is a regular ferry connection to nearby Marken, another pisueresque town. Boys might wear baggy trousers and wooden shoes. Therre is a museum about its history and clothing style. Visitors can have their pictures taken in traditional Dutch costumes. A Dutch reader reports, "Volendam is famous for its dress that became national dress! Not Marken." As he did not provide any further details, we are not precisely sure yet what he meant. Another Dutch reader spectulates that "... this comment perhaps meant that the native costumes the people of Volendam are wearing are misunderstood. He is right that these outfits are being perceived by the rest of the world as THE Dutch national costumes. Often when there is a promotion of Dutch products salespeople dress up like Volendamers. In the Netherlands itself folks know better. Only inhabitants of Volendam dress that way."

Other regions

Other regions in Holland where the people still wear their traditional folk garb are Spakenburg and Staphorst.

Usage

Mostly women wear folk dress in the Netherlands today. The men would wear their old costumes perhaps only to go to church or on special occasions. A Dutch reader reports, "I don't think that boys still want to wear any of those clothes. But wooden shoes are still common in the country. They seem to be practical, although I never wore them."

Special Occassions

We notice Dutch children dressing up for special occassions in folk costumes. We are not sure just when these events began, meanoing when folk costumes began to be worn because the styles were no longer widelky wirn abd began to be seen as charming and poular as a nostalgic look at former times. This could be village festivals are even town events. We suspct tht there were also school events. But some seem to be coinducted in urban settings. Through the 1950s the costumes could be quite accurate down to the wooden shoes. We are not sure if that is the case today. Or how popular they are today. The children seen to be having fun in these events at least the examples we have seen through the 1950s.







HBC







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Created: March 4, 2000
Last updated: 11:45 PM 6/22/2017