traditional frisian costume

The Frisian Costume is one of the museum´s icons. Although the term ´national costume´ implies an unchanging costume, the museum´s collection includes several examples of a traditional costume subject to change, showing its history. This way, a variety of local traditional costumes with distinctive headgear for women came into being in the Netherlands during the nineteenth century. Regional costumes reveal the wearer´s origins and the group he/she belongs to, and therefore are important clues to the wearer´s identity. Distinctive clothing was worn in Friesland from the seventeenth century into the twentieth century. During this time, ‘Frisian Costume’ was changing in line with international fashions.

Headwear also kept abreast of changing trends. In fact, we cannot speak of one definitive Frisian costume, but of several fashion trends, always accessorised with an oorijzer, an ornamental metal ear piece, and a lace bonnet. A sixteenth-century oorijzer was an iron wire that secured a cap to the head, over which another lace cap was attached. Such oorijzers developed into ornate jewellery made of silver or gold. Over three centuries its shape changed from a frame into a helmet. The lace bonnets were also continually modified to keep in line with fashion and to show the latest lace designs. 

In the mid-nineteenth century, women wore fashionably wide skirts, often over a hoop petticoat, as can still be seen in wedding dresses today. The current Frisian Costumes are copies of this fashion. Unfortunately, the original clothes cannot be worn anymore these days because back then people were smaller and more petite. Also, the old fabrics are too delicate, and the clothes restrict movement.
An example is the two-piece gown that belonged to Martine Roorda (1834–96), the daughter of a preacher. This woollen costume is decorated with what looks like a modern motif. The extremely wide long skirt made her waist appear long and slender. The jacket has drooping broad shoulders, flaring sleeves and a gathered skirt. The gold oorijzer is covered with a bobbin lace cap and is decorated with gold cap pins and a ‘forehead ornament’.

Nowadays members of dancing groups invariably accessorise this costume with a tipdoek, a triangular scarf, and an apron, to ensure uniformity. However, there was no such thing as a definitive traditional Frisian Costume, as women throughout the years wore what appealed to them, just as they do nowadays.