Traditional Swedish clothing is a hugely important part of Swedish culture. Swedish traditional clothing looks much like what the rest of us would imagine folk wear to look like in places just like Germany and the Netherlands.
With its versatility, effortless chic, clean lines and sensitivity for vintage and durability, it’s little wonder that Swedish style is so sought after around the world. With sustainability high on the agenda, Swedish clothing brands stand out in an ever-changing marketplace.
The ability to constantly refresh and redefine themselves has meant that these heavyweights of Swedish fashion have managed to remain at the top table, year after year. Swedish traditional clothing can tell us more about Swedish culture, history and way of life.
Sweden traditional clothing, typically worn by men, typically consists of trousers, long socks, and a coat of some kind. Clothing for women was seen as more cultural due to men’s abandonment in the name of so-called masculinity.
Traditional clothing for Swedish women was treated the way it was for men. Women of a certain class and region were highly recommended to wear clothing that correlates with those characteristics. Women’s peasant clothing was the style of interest due to its similarities and resemblance to folk clothing.
How Fashion Evolved in Sweden
Fashion tells a story about people. Traditional fashion tells a story about a group of people. A large part of the traditional clothing of Sweden is influenced by their occupations, time, and other cultural influences. Sweden is one of the least populated countries in all of Europe.
The national dress code at the time called for white and blue trim for formal occasions. Embroidery is a common decoration used for men’s trousers. The dress code was enforced for many reasons, one of them being national economic policy.
The fashion industry was also seen as an urban livelihood. There are plenty of different types of traditional Swedish clothing. However, the cloth designed by Marta Palme is widely accepted as the national costume because it seems to embody all of Sweden.
A jacket made out of handspun material or animal skin would also be worn; the style of the trousers may differ depending on the class or region they are in at the time. Men’s clothing did not receive the same attention due to its origin. Traditional Swedish male clothing is similar to that of military uniforms.
In addition to the fabric material for this clothing, animal skin used to make leather was also another form of material used to make shoes and coats.
There’s also a national costume in Sweden called “Nationella drakten.” The national costume is typically worn by women of the Swedish royal family for national day. It consists of a light blue dress, a yellow apron, a white blouse, socks and a scarf worn on the head.
The national costume was created to instill a sense of pride in Sweden, which is a nice touch given that overt displays of nationalism aren’t a typical Swedish trait. A large part of the traditional clothing of Sweden is influenced by their occupation time and cultural influences.
Like other countries of the world, Sweden has various kinds of traditional dresses which will be highlighted below.
Top 10 Swedish Traditional Clothing
1. The Sverigedräkten
Sverigedräkten is the dress that represents all of Sweden. The colors represent the Swedish flag. The national dress may be the most famous traditional Swedish costume but it’s still fairly recent compared to the regional folk costumes.
The dress is light blue, while the apron is yellow/ gold like the flag. There are flowers on the costume. This dress is typically worn with a white blouse, socks, and a bonnet hat. The shoes for this outfit are traditional leather shoes.
The national dress and general movement towards going back to more traditional clothing was seen as an alternative to the modern industrial wave of fashion that blew through Europe at the time.
The movement behind the dress, Svenska kvinnliga “Nationaldräktsföreningen” The Swedish female national dress association, wanted to break the ongoing trend of expensive textiles, artificially shaped clothing, uncomfortable corsets, and hard-to-wash dresses that reached down to the floor.
In short, they wanted a more practical, natural,and cheaper clothing style.
2. The folkdräkt
The folkdräkt is a type of dress worn daily by commoners. These dresses are worn by people who work in fields and kitchens. The folkdräkt is also worn for festive and fancy occasions due to being the only clothes they have at the time.
This garment could be nearly any color. This garment could be worn with long, warm socks, a blouse and a hat similar to a national costume. Folkdräkt can only be used for costumes with a distinctive and well-documented form of dressing.
Today, the folkdräkt are mainly worn at folk festivals and traditional festivities (eg Midsummer). In terms of etiquette, a folkdräkt is on par with formal dress. So, you can wear one to a wedding or other formal ceremony. Folkdräkt are handmade on order so they are typically quite expensive.
3. Wooden Clog
Clogs were usually made with a single block of wood. The traditional Swedish wooden Clog was typically made out of willow or popular wood.
The Swedish wooden clog has since evolved; the shoe is now made of leather and wood for a comfortable and more up-to-date style.
Gákti is a piece of traditional clothing worn by the Sámi in northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The gákti is worn both in ceremonial contexts and while working, particularly when herding reindeer.
The traditional Sami outfit is characterized by a dominant color adorned with bands of contrasting colors, plaits, pewter embroidery, tin art and often a high collar. In the Norwegian Language, the garment is called a ‘kofte’, and in Swedish it is called ‘kolt’.
A gold collar of the traditional sámi women’s gakti has a metal embroidery collar with pewter or silver thread and traditional sámi silver buckles. A pattern of a metal embroidered collar for a traditional male sámi gakti from Åsele, Vasterbotten, Sweden.
The metal thread most commonly used for embroidery is pewter. The colors, patterns and decorations of the costume can signify a person’s marital status and geographical origin. There are different gákti for women and men; men’s gáktis are shorter at the hem than women’s.
Traditionally, the gákti was made from reindeer skin, but in modern times, wool, cotton or silk are more common. The gákti can be worn with a belt (pleated, quilted or with silver buttons), silver jewelry, traditional leather footwear and a silk scarf.
Traditionally, if the buttons on the belt are square, it shows the wearer is married. If they are round, the person is unmarried. If a married couple divorces, and the ex-husband continues to use the Sami costume made by his ex-wife, he states by this that he wants her back.
5. The Luhkka
The Luhkka(North Sami Luhkka) is a form of winter clothing that covers the top half of a person’s body. It is a poncho-like hooded cape with the hem coming down to the wearer’s elbow or wrist.
Luhkka is made from a thick wad mall. It is used by the Sámi of northern Scandinavia and Finland and is traditionally worn on top of the Sami gakti or fur coat.
Beaska is a coat made of reindeer fur used by the Sámi people, particularly in Torne. In Gâllivare beaska means thicker fur and is mainly used by the richer people.
In the Northern Sami language, it could also mean newer fur as it was of young reindeer calves, which are themselves called peschki in some dialects.
The Norwegian word for fur is pesk, which comes from pásket to cut. The Sami people also use the word muoddá(In Swedish: mud).
7. The Four Winds hat
The Four Winds hat in Northern Sami is one version of the traditional man’s hat of the Sámi. The basis is a simple blue cylinder, decorated with a band with braid patterns, but the top is a large, four-cornered star, colored bright blue with parts bright red and yellow.
The decoration in an actual Sami hat is, like the rest of the Sami garb, indicative of the person’s place of origin or even his clan or marital status, a little like the Scottish tattan.
Sockendräkt (parish costume) is another term used for Swedish folk dress. When the natural boundaries of an area coincided with the parish boundaries, then the local dress of that area became a parish costume.
‘Sockendräkt’ as well as a ‘Folkdräkt’. This is true of many parts of Dalarna. Even a ‘Häradsdräkt’ can also be a ‘Folkdräkt’, if the natural boundaries of an area coincide with the ‘Härad’s’ boundaries. This is common in the province of Skåne and the south of Sweden.
‘FOLKLIG DRÄKT,’ it is impossible to give a short translation for ‘FOLKLIG DRÄKT,’ the everyday clothes of common people. This term can be used in a much wider sense than ‘Folkdräkt’.
All clothing worn by the common people in both city and country can be called ‘Folklig dräkt,’ even if it lacks the distinctive local character of the purer bred ‘Folkdräkt.’
Clothing connected with certain trades, such as the blacksmith’s shirt or the butcher’s apron, are examples of ‘Folklig dräkt.’ Those clothes used by simple burghers, the middle class, in town are also ‘Folklig dräkt,’ as is that used by peasants living in the vicinity of towns and cities and which lacked a distinctive local character.
‘Folkdräkt’ is of course ‘Folklig dräkt’, but ‘Folklig dräkt’ does not have to be ‘Folkdräkt’, and it is still a valuable example of our folk culture.’Bygdedräkt’ and ‘Hembygdsdräkt’ (District or Home District costume). In many areas of Sweden, a distinctive, local manner of dress never developed.
National Costumes became popular. This is the name that was given to the ‘Folkdräkt’ and even to newly created folk costumes that the upper classes amused themselves by wearing.
It means that all in Sweden had a uniform dress. ALLMÄNNA SVENSKA NATIONALDRÄKTEN is not a new invention but it took eighty years for it to be accepted as THE SWEDISH NATIONAL COSTUME.
Her name was Märta Palme, and she was the daughter of a wealthy merchant in Norrköping. She was dressed in the typical middle-class women’s fashion of the time, tight fitting at the waist and with long skirts that dragged in the dust of the street.
This costume was both more romantic as well as more comfortable than her middle-class clothes.