I was inspired by 'The Man of la Mancha', so I decided to do this costume. It turns out that this is not part of la Mancha, but somewhat to the north and west of it, but I will do it anyway.
Lagartera is a village in the far west of the Province of Toledo. The name comes from Latin, and means 'place of many lizards'. Here is the Province of Toledo in Spain, within the region of New Castile.
Lagartera is famous in Spain for the richness of its folk costume and its embroidery, both that used on the costume and the derived designs used on household linens.
The distinct pieces which comprise the Lagartera costume for women are rather numerous: La camisa, la «faisa», la cinta de ceñir, la enagua, la «mandileta», los guardapiés, la faltriquera, el capotillo, la gorguera, el sayuelo, el jubón, el mandil, las medias y las calcetas, los zapatos y las zapatas, los pañuelos y la mantellina.
Chemise, La camisa.
The chemise is made of fine homewoven linen, and comes to the knees with a triangular gusset sewn into the seam on each side at the hem. There are two types, one with relatively narrow sleeves which is worn for everyday or under the jacket, seen at the right above, and one with extremely full sleeves, called camisa de ras, which is for festive occasions and may be seen on the woman above at the left. There is a front opening, closed with a button, which usually comes to the waist. This is typical of traditional garments, and facilitates breast feeding. The chemise is little embroidered, especially the everyday, and even the camisa de ras is only embroidered on the cuffs, los puños, and the collar or neckband, el cabezón. Here is a little girl in a more everyday form of the costume, showing the narrow sleeved camisa.
Each such sleeve requires a yard and a half of material. They are gathered lengthwise and the folds are secured with 'Galician smocking'. A gusset is inset under the arms.
The 'wedding chemise' is similar to the every day but made of finer materials, it is always worn with the jacket.
This is a sort of dickey which covers the front and back of the shoulders, similar to the Dutch kraplap. It has an opening for the head, and is secured around the waist with ribbons attached to the corners, as you can see in the photo of the little girl above. The neck opening, front panels and shoulders are heavily embroidered, usually in black, sometimes in white for older women.
Sometimes a second similar garment called el Capotillo is worn underneath this one. The Capotillo is smaller and has the opening in back. Its purpose is simply to cover the front opening of the chemise.
This is a type of bodice which is worn over the chemise and the gorguera. It is quite stiff and is laced up the front. A simple version is worn for everyday and under the jacket to provide shape. The more ornamented version is worn with the camisa de ras. This has contrasting pieces sewn onto the front and rear which give the appearance of a second garment. These 'gayas' make the neckline higher in front, and in back form a diamond shape under the joining of the shoulder straps. The entire garment is edged with colorful ribbons and other trim. The front has two tails which tuck under the skirt and apron.
La Faisa y la Cinta de Ceñir
The faisa is a lined rectangle of red woolen cloth which is wrapped around the waist and secured by a ribbon, la cinta de ceñir. This ribbon is usually about three yards long, and may be woven with a design. The purpose of these garments is to accentuate the waist and keep the chemise and other garments from slipping.
La Enagua or Senagua
This is a petticoat. made of linen worn over the chemise and faisa. The everyday one is simply trimmed with a narrow length of lace, the festive is edged with openwork, ribbon, or wider crochet or bobbin lace. It is gathered with tiny folds into a waistband with a drawstring which. It has and opening about 30 cm long.
This is a small apron measuring half a yard by three quarters. It is of red cloth trimmed with ribbon and tied around the waist. The festive one may have yellow cut out applique designs on the front. The everyday one is plain. The purpose of the mandileta is to block the openings of the petticoats and skirts. It is not visible when fully clothed.
This term may be literally translated as 'toe guards', but is the local name for the skirts. They are smock-gathered around the waist as far down as the hips. This causes the top of the skirts to fit closely around the body, and they flare out below that. This forms the unique outline of this costume. Traditionally three skirts are worn on top of each other. The underskirts are of plain cloth, usually wool, and may be red, dark green or navy blue, the topmost skirt may be of percale, flannel, satin or silk, but may only be red, blue, or black. The everyday top skirt is edged with one row of ribbon on the hem, green for the blue or black ones, or black if in mourning, and blue for the red ones. The underskirt may also have one row of ribbon if it is longer than the top skirt and the edge will be seen. The festive top skirt has five rows of ribbon. The lower edge of the smock-gathered area is covered with an embroidered band which is black for the black skirts, light blue for the red or blue skirts and light green for the green skirts.
This is a loose pocket which has a waistband that is tied around the waist. It is worn over the skirt and under the apron. It may be trimmed with ribbon but is not usually visible and is not greatly ornamented as in some other regions.
This is the apron. It is smock-gathered in the same way as the skirts and may have a similar band of embroidery over the bottom part of the gathering. It may be as long as the top skirt or somewhat shorter and has a band which ties around the waist. It is edged like the skirts, but with only one or two bands of ribbon, lace, embroidery, trim, etc. Some newer ones have a second pair of ribbons sewn onto the middle, separated from the ones on the edge. There is often a panel sewn over the top of the smock gathered part. The everyday and Sunday versions are often of printed cotton material.
This is a short, fitted jacket. It is always black, although it may be made of various materials. The front is ornamented with ribbon, galloon, and metallic lace. The sleeves are narrow, with cuffs that feature ornamental buttonholes and buttons. It is used in cooler weather and for many more formal occasions.
The back of the jacket and also the back of the skirt have decorative ribbons pinned on that trail and move.
A shoulder shawl is often worn with the jacket today. This may be colored silk, but more often is tulle with ivory embroidery and sequins and trimmed in lace. The ribbons on the back may be pinned over the shawl.
The hair is pulled back into an elongated bun on the upper rear part of the head. If there is insufficient hair a wool pad is incorporated. This gives the distinctive elongated shape to the various kerchiefs and headdresses which are worn. Sometimes, especially for girls, the bun is simply covered with a wide ribbon. Kerchiefs are simply pinned on top of the head, and a simple headdress is also sometimes worn.
Las Calcetas y las Medias.
For everyday wear in warm weather, white stockings, las calcetas, are worn. These may be of cotton or linen, and generally have a knitted in design.
For colder weather and more formal occasions, another pair of stockings, las medias are worn over them. These are of red wool and are plain knitted. They do not have a toe. They have symmetrical designs embroidered on them, consisting of rectangles forming a line up the side with multicolored chain stitch designs branching off of it. There are many designs, but there is a remarkable uniformity to the overall composition.
Various types of shoes are worn, simpler ones for every day and Sunday, of leather with a heel, los Zapatos, [male shoes]. For festive occasions shoes of cloth with no heels and decorated with ribbons, ruffles, lace, etc are worn, las Zapatas, [female shoes]. See the above images.
Los Pañuelos de Hombros
Various shoulder shawls may be worn with this costume. I have already mentioned the Pañuelo de Oro, made of tulle or fine silk with white and gold embroidery which may accompany the formal jacket. A white shawl with lace edging may be worn in colder weather. Commercially produced Manila shawls with typical Chinese-style machine embroidery and long fringe may be worn, as everywhere in Spain. They also wear home embroidered shawls sometimes known as 'Avila Style'. These have shorter fringe, are closed with silver clasps and have a distinctive style of embroidery. This last type of shawl is often worn with a different type of jacket with rather wider sleeves in various colors, sometimes with a ruffled cuff. This garment is called los Mangos.
This is a short cape which is worn over the head for going to church and important ceremonies. It is an integral part of the Bridal costume. It may be dark or white, depending on the occasion. This garment is found over much of Spain, and also in parts of Sardinia. It is trimmed with ribbon, cloth applique, galloon, and/or lace, There is a small tassel which helps center the garment on the forehead.
As with other living costumes, there are many rules as to which version of the costume is appropriate for which occasion, down to the color of skirts, how many rows of trim on the skirt, which kerchief is appropriate, etc. There is even a version of the costume which is worn by members of a family in which there is an upcoming wedding to announce the Banns. This is called El Traje del Trapillo.
Since this article is already so long, I will stop here and continue with the men's costume and linen embroidery in another article.
I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative.
Some ladies from Lagartera doing a dance. One is in the dickey and bodice, the second is wearing a regular 'Manila' Shawl, the third is in widow's clothing, mostly in black, and the fourth is wearing a locally embroidered shawl over a colored sleeved jacket.
Here are some links showing the costume and also the local style of embroidery on house linens. I will talk more about these in the next article.
M.a Guadalupe Fernández González, 'El Traje Tipico de Lagartera', Toledo, Spain, 1993
Florencia Herraez Lozano, H.C. 'Orden i Modo de Vestir el Traje de Lagartera', Toledo, Spain, 2000
Isabel de Palencia, 'The Regional Costumes of Spain', Madrid, 1926
Oscar de la Renta et al, 'Joaquin Sorolla and the Glory of Spanish Dress', New York, 2011
Jose Ortiz Echague, 'Espana, Tipos y Trajes', Madrid, 1953
Manuel Comba, 'Trajes Regionales Espanoles', Madrid, 1977
Cesar Justel, 'Espana, Trajes Regionales', Madrid, 1997
Lilla Fox, 'Folk Costumes of Southern Europe', Boston, 1972
Jose Manuel Gomez-Tabanera, 'Trajes Populares y Costumbres Tradicionales', Madrid, 1950