Traditional costume in Romania portul popular, ethnic dress

Eliznik home > Romania > costume




The structure of Romanian traditional clothing has remained unchanged throughout history and can be traced back to the earliest times. The basic garment for both men and women is a shirt or chemise, which is made from hemp, linen or woollen fabric. This was tied round the waist using a fabric belt, narrow for women and wider for men. The cut of this basic chemise is similar for men and women. In the past those worn by women usually reached to the ankles while men's shirts were shorter and worn over trousers or leggings made from strips of fabric. Women always wear an apron over the chemise. This was initially a single piece of cloth wrapped round the lower part of their bodies and secured by a belt at the waist, as is still seen in the east and south east of Romania. In Transylvania and the south west of Romania this became two separate aprons, one worn at the back and one at the front.

Men's traditional clothing throughout Romania comprises a white shirt (cămasă), white trousers, hat, belt, waistcoat and or overcoat. Local differences are indicated by shirt length, type of embroidery, trouser cut, hat shape, or waistcoat decoration. In most areas shirts are worn outside trousers, which is the older style. This is a basic Balkan man's costume largely uninfluenced by fashions from west or east. Hungarian and Saxon men living in Romania wear trousers with a more modern cut often made of dark material rather than white. This reflects their closer ties, and more frequent communication, with the west.

The outer garments worn by both men and women are similar, the main differences being in cut and decoration which depend mainly on the region of provenance. These garments are usually made of sheepskin, or felted woollen fabric, and decorated with leather appliqué and silk embroidery.

Traditional clothing worn on workdays and festivals used to be similar, the main difference being that the festive dress, especially those worn for weddings was more richly embroidered. In the past the headwear worn by the bride was especially ornate with specific local styles.  In poorer areas basic clothing with little or no embroidery has always been worn.

The various pieces of costume have gone out of use at different times during the 20th century.  The first item to disappear in many areas were leather peasant sandals (opinci), although these could be seen in poorer villages again in the years just after the communist regime fell. In most rural areas men's traditional trousers were replaced by modern factory made trousers by mid century and in the post communism years jeans has become universally common.  Traditional over garments became an expensive luxury, new garments only being purchased by people living in the very wealthy villages. More recently the traditional jacket makers in many areas have died with few new artisans being trainer to carry on their craft.

However if you look closely in the more remote areas some older people still wear items of traditional clothing. This can be for women a gathered black skirt or dark wraparound with a blouse of local cut either with or without a leather waistcoat. In Oaş and Maramureş even young girls often wear the local fashion costume on Sundays. This is normally made from brightly coloured material, in Oaş a dress, in Maramureş a skirt.  Added to the local costume is the latest fashion in blouses and footwear such as white lacy blouses in Maramureş and platform shoes or stilettos, in both regions. Men usually have "western " trousers or jeans but may have a local shirt, or local shaped hat, although unfortunately the universal trilby is fast replacing these. Certain items of costume, specific to occupations, are still worn, for example men working in the forestry industry wear the wide leather belts (chimir), usually now over a T-shirt and jeans. Men's traditional fur hats (caliciulă) are still worn in winter in rural areas, and women usually wear a printed woollen scarf, and often a traditional straw hat over this when working in the fields in the summer.

Search our costume section: over 350 pages, over 350 pictures, some 50 maps and diagrams
WWW Search the Eliznik Romanian costume pages



Aspin, C. (1981), The Cotton Industry, Shire, Buckinghamshire

Aspin, C. (1982), The Woollen Industry, Shire, Buckinghamshire

Benson, A. and Warburton ,N. (1986), Looms & Weaving, Shire, Buckinghamshire

Bridgeman, H. and Drury, E. (1978), Needlework - an Illustrated History, Paddington Press, New York & London

Bush, S. (1987), The Şilk Industry, Shire, Buckinghamshire


Academia Romana - Institutul de Lingvistica 'Iorgu Iordan' (1998), DEX - Dictionarul Explicativ al Limba Romane, Univers Enciclopedic

Banateanu, T.,  Focsa, G. and Ionescu, E. (1957), Port, Tesaturi, Cusaturi, State Publishing Co, Bucureşti

Banateanu, T. (1966), Portul Popular din Regiunea Marmureş, Casa Creatiei Populare, Romania

Banateanu, T. (1977), Romania - From the thesauras of the traditional popular costume, Editura Sport Turism, Romania

Banateanu, T.( 1955), Portul popular din Ţara Oasului, Editura Arta, Romania

Bielz, I (1956), Portul popular al Saşilor din Transylvania, Editura Arta, Romania

Bratiloveanu-Popilian, M. (1990), Zona Etnografică Plaiul Cloşanilor,  Editura Sport Turism, Romania

Cantemir, A E (1971), Portul Popular Românesc, Editura Meridane, Romania

Comsa, D (1976), Din Ornamentica Româna, Editat de Revista Transylvania, Romania

Doaga, A. (1978), Cusături Româneşti, Editura Ion Creanga, Romania

Doaga, A. ( c1980) Ii şi Cămăşi Româneşti Editura Tehnica, Romania

Dogaru, O. (1976), Ornamentele şi Croiul Costumului din Maramureş, Comitetul Judetului, Romania

Dunăre, N. (1985), Broderia Populară Româneasca, Editura Meridiane, Bucureşti

Dunare, N. (1957), Portul Popular din Bihor, Editura Arta, Romania

Dunare, N. and Focsa, M. (1957), Portul buciumanilor din Munţii Apuseni, Editur Arta, Romania

Enache, S. and Plesa, T. (1982),  Zona Etnografică Dolj, Editura Sport Turism, Romania

Florescu, F.B. (1957), Opincile la Romini,  Editura Academiei, Romania

Florescu, F.B. and Stahl, P. and Petrescu, P. (1967), Arta Populara din Zonele Argeşşi Muscel,Editura Academiei, Romania

Florescu, F.B. (1957), Portul Popular din Muscel,  Editura Arta, Romania

Florescu, F.B. (1957) Portul Popular din Moldova de Nord, Editura Arta, Romania

Focsa, G. (1957), Evolutia Portului Popular in Zona Jiului de Sus, Editura Arta, Romania

Fulga, L. (2003), The Textile Heritage,  Muzeul Etnografie,  Brasov

Giurchescu A, with Bloland S. (1995), Romanian Traditional Dance, Wild Flower Press, Mill Valley, California

Giurchescu A, (1990), The Use of Traditional Symbols for Recreating the Present: A Case Study of Tourism in Rumania, Centre for Cance Studies, Jersey

Horşia, O. and Petrescu, P. (1971), Artistic Handicrafts in Romania, UCECOM

Irimie, C. (1957), Portul Popular din Ţara Oltului - zona Avrig, Editura Arta, Romania

Irimie, C. (1956), Portul Popular din Ţara Oltului, zona Făgăraşului, Editura Arta, Romania

Irimie, C. (1958), Portul Popular din zona Perşanilor, Editura Arta, Romania

Iorga, N. (1926), România în Chipuri şi Vederi, Cultura Nationala, Romania

Moise, I. and Klusch, H. (1980), Portul Populare Judeţul Şibiu, Revista, Transylvania

Dogaru, O. (1984), Ornamentele şi Croiul Costumului din Maramures, Comitetul Judetului Maramureş, Romania

Dogaru , O. (1976), Ornamenti Şi Croiul Costumului din Judetul Maramures, Comitetul Maramureş, Romania

Malita, M. (1977), Du tresor du Costume Populaire Traditionnel , Editura Sport Turism, Romania

Nagy, J. (1958), Portul popular Maghiar di Tintul Calatei, Editura Arta, Romania

Nagy, J. (1958), Portul popular Maghiar di Trascau, Editura Arta, Romania

Oprescu, G. (1929), Peasant Art In Roumania, Albert & Charles, New York

Pavel, E. (1976), Portul Popular Moldovenesc, Editura Junimea, Romania,

Pavel, E (1975), Portul Popular din zona Iaşi,  Editura Meridane, Romania

Petrescu, P. (1968), Broderii pe Piele in Arta Populara Româneasca, Editura Meridiane, Romania

Petrescu, P. and Secosan, E. and Doaga, A. (1973), Cusături Romanesti, Conşilul Pionierilor, Romania

Petrescu, P. (1981) Arta Populara şi Decorativa,  Editura Meridiane, Romania

Petrescu, P. and Stoica, G. (1981) Arta Populara Romaneasca, Editura Meridiane, Romania

Petrescu, P. and Stoica, G. (1997), Dictionar de Artă Populară, Editura Enciclopedică, Bucureşti

Secosan, E. and Parau, S. (1980), Portul Popular Romanesc din Judeţul Tulcea, Muzeul Deltei Dunarii, Tulcea

Secoşan, E. and  Petrescu, P. (1984), Portul Populare de Sărbătoare din România, Editura Meridiane, Bucureşti

Secoşan, E. and  Petrescu, P. (1985), Romanian Folk Costume, Editura Meridiane, Bucureşti

Stoica, G. (1976), Podoabe Populare Româneşti,  Editura Meridiane, Romania

Stoica, G. and Ilie, R. (1986), Zona Etnografică Olt,  Editura Sport Turism, Romania

Stoica, V and Vaşilescu, V (1971 ), Portul Popular din Gorj,  Comitetul Judeţean Gorj, Romania

Stoica, V. and  Vagii, M. (1969), Arta Populara din Câmpia Munteniei, Casa Creatiei, Ilfov

Tomida, E. D. (1970), Cusăturile şi Broderiile Costumului Popular din Romania, Editura Tehnica, Romania

Vlăduţiu I. (1983), Arta Plastică de Amatori şi Arta Populară , Editura Meridiane, Bucureşti

Vuia, R. (1962) Portul Popular din Ţara Haţegului,  Editura Meridiane, Romania

Surrounding Countries

Kovacheva-Kostadinova, V. (1994), Traditional Bulgarian Costumes & Folk Arts, National Museum Ethnography, Sofia

Kwasnik, E. (1989), Bulgaria Tradition & Beauty, Liverpool Museum

Pantelic N, Djordjevic, M (1984), Traditional Arts & Crafts In Yugoslavia, Jugoslovenska Revija,

Petrovic, P. (1938), 'Serbian National Embroidery', The Journal of the Embroiderers' Guild, Embroidery Guild, London

Puntev, P., Čerkezova, M., Stamenova, Ž., Kovačeva, V. (1980), Bulgarian Folk Art,  Septemvri, Sofia

Stamerov, K. (1986), History Of Ukrainian Costume, Bayda Books

Veleva, M. and Dancheva, S. (1983), Bulgarian National Costumes & Folk Jewellery, Sofia

Veleva, M. and Lepavcova, E. (1961), Nord-Bulgarische Volkstrachten, Bulgarski Akademiya, Sofia

Vrtovec, I.  (1985), Croatian National Jewellery, Graficki Zavod, Zagreb

Zelenchik, V. (1985), Moldavian National Costume, Kishtinev

non costume references

Andronic, M. (1997), Hutului - Minoritate din Bucovina, Societatea Culturala

Juder, C. (2000), Romania – The Blue Guide, A & C Black, London

Kicşi, S.  (c1995), In Transylvania 2 - Haromszek es Cşik, Szacsvay, Officina Nova, Budapest

Stevenson, V. (1983), Words, Macdonald, London

Wace, A. and Thompson, M. (1913), The Nomads of the Balkans, Bilbo & Tannen

© Eliznik2005, First issue 2-Mar-2002, Last updated Aug-05