Friday, November 18, 2011

Costume of Volendam, North Holland, The Netherlands

 Hello All,

I want to cover all of Europe eventually, and i thought i would talk about the Netherlands today. Many people think of the Volendam costume when they think about Holland or the Netherlands. This is the costume which is replicated on all kinds of labels under 'Dutch Maid', with the peaked and winged cap. In fact, the costume is only worn in the one village of Volendam, and is not representative or typical of the Netherlands as a whole. Nonetheless, it is very famous, for reasons which are unknown to me, and so i will adress it first.

Volendam is in the province of North Holland, on the west coast of the [former?] Zuidersee. It is one of a handful of towns and villages in the Netherlands where the folk costume is still a living tradition with some people. You can see it here on this map.

 There are three variants of the costume, which is why you may have wondered why different images did not look the same. There is the everyday costume, and the young girl's costume which resembles it, the Sunday go to Market costume, and the costume for special occasions, which is the one you most often see these days. I will start with a description of the last one, which is called the 'Bruiloftsgast' or 'Wedding Guest' costume. The foundation is a chemise, which has no sleeves, and a petticoat. The traditional costume is about ankle length. The chemise does not show when the costume is completed. Over the chemise is worn a 'kraplap', also called 'koplap' ' kralap' or 'kroplap', a type of double bib, similar to the overcollar found in some German costumes. It fastens at the neck and is secured on the bottom by ribbons on the front panel which thread through loops attached to the back panel. The kraplap is found in many Dutch costumes, and is often decorated. Mevrouw Kil will be showing us how to put on the costume.

Here are a couple of kraplaps from the early 1900's. These are made from printed cloth. I suspect that earlier they were embroidered, but i have no actual confirmation of that. An equivalant piece of the costume is still embroidered in Walcheren and Urk, and covered in beadwork in Axel, but made of a simple piece of printed cloth in Marken and elsewhere.

They are made in two pieces, front and back, one shoulder is sewn closed, and the other has a fastening. There is a piece of ribbon or lace around the neck opening. Today, the kraplap usually has a design of machine-embroidered satin stitch flowers, usually roses. Here is an example of a contemporary kraplap.

Around 1930 a family named Tol developed a way to mechanically spray paint Rose designs on a silk background using a series of templates This appears to be the precourser to the machine embroidered ones of today.

Here is an old photo of a girl with a nice smile, and no roses on her kraplap, but what look like embroidered flowers.

Here are some examples of the more common contemporary kraplaps. 

Kraplaps made of printed material are also still worn.

When dressing up, an 'Edelkraal' is placed around the neck, made of several strands of coral beads and an ornamental buckle. You can see this on several of the images.

 The skirt is then put on, the white and red striped skirt for the 'Wedding Guest' costume, otherwise a long full skirt in a plain dark color, most commonly black or navy. The women in Marken, just a few kilometers away, wear a very similar striped skirt, but always under the topskirt. They make fun of Volendamers for walking around in their 'underwear'. Over this is put on the 'kletje', a blouse or jacket of black wool with a bit of a peplum in back, and a couple of wide lappets in front. It has a square-cut neckline both front and back, which are edged with trim. The front closes with hooks. Here is Mevrouw Kil again.

Here is a back view of the kletje being worn, showing the embroidery on the kraplap.

Then the apron is put on over the kletje.The apron should be long and full. You can see cheap versions which are sometimes not made long or full enough. The apron has a tie which is usually made of an ornamentally woven band. For the 'Wedding Guest' costume, the apron is black, or perhaps another dark color, and the top part of the apron matches the kraplap. whether embroidered as here,

Or made of printed material.

When worn properly, the 'Wedding Guest' costume incudes a white kerchief worn over the shoulders and tucked into the front neckline of the kletje. Mevrouw Kil shows us how it should look.

For the Sunday and Market-day costumes, they wear a dark or black skirt, a striped apron, and a scarf woven or knitted from colorful yarn instead of the white kerchief.

The Market day apron is often decorated over the gathers at the top with colorful smocking.

The every day costume consists of a shirt made of printed cloth, consisting of small motifs set in lines, and a simple apron. The high lace cap is not worn, but the black undercap is.

I do not have the cut of this shirt , but the pictures seem to show the cloth set in horizontally around the waist, and gathers or tucks on the front. 

Rules, are of course, made to be broken. Some women like the everyday shirt so much they wear it with their market day costume, sometimes with the full lace cap. When it starts to show signs of wear, then it becomes an everyday shirt.

This woman is obviously on her way to market.

She is wearing a fancy purse hanging from her apron strings. I have not seen this anywhere else. More commonly, Dutch women wear a cloth pocket under the apron, very similar to the ones i describe in the Provencal costume. In Dutch they are called zijzak. Here is one nicely embroidered zijzak from Volendam.

The famous peaked lace caps are supported by the black undercaps.

The caps themselves are made of two symmetrical pieces for the body of the cap, derived from the round back of the standard bonnet, and two wings, derived from the rectangular piece that makes up the top and sides of a bonnet. I do not have an exact cut, but the good ones are made of very fine and beautifully made lace, and the wings are gathered and pleated to shape. There are some spectacular examples above, as well.

This high peaked cap is a relatively modern innovation, from around the turn of the 20th cent, in much the same way as the lace cap of Bigouden, in Brittany. Here is a famous painting of the Volendam costume made in 1865, showing a much more modest cap, albeit with similar wings. No other Dutch costume has a similar cap, although some are just as impressive.

You can see that she is wearing black leather shoes with silver buckles. The famous wooden shoes are indeed worn, but not to Church, and not inside the house. They are very practical in mud, sand, and doing dirty work outside. Also some dances rely on the clomp and clatter they make. If you wish to purchase some, get them one or two sizes too large, as you will need a couple pairs of thick socks and/or a sheepskin pad over the top of your instep and the top front edge to be able to wear them with any comfort.
One last variant is the girl's costume, which resembles the everyday costume, but has a matching rather plain blouse and skirt.

I hope that you have found this interesting. Maybe you will be able to get to Volendam and have your picture taken posing in this famous costume.

One more image of Volendam ladies with very impressive high lace caps and smocking on their aprons.

And two last saucy prints from Gardilanne and Moffat.


There are several sites online which make costumes.

Here is a website from which you can order Dutch costumes out of Orange city, Iowa. 

Here is another one, This one offers kits, patterns, and Dutch fabrics, but their costumes are simplified.

Another website out of Holland, Michigan

And a very wonderful website from the fabulous OpenAir Museum in the Netherlands. 

Here is a video showing some Voledam girls and one Marken girl in a Bulgarian line dance at some festival. 

Here is a Dutch dance showing several of the better known costumes, including a couple of ladies in the Volendam. Unfortunately, much of the Dutch dance tradition that was mentioned in historical records has disappeared due to the influence of Calvinism. 

Feel free to contact me with requests for research. I hope to eventually cover all of Europe and the Former Russian Empire/Soviet Union. I also gratefully accept tips on source materials which i may not have. I also accept commissions to research/design, sew, and/or embroider costumes or other items for groups or individuals. I also choreograph and teach folk dance.
Roman K.

Source Material:
A. Groen, 'Dutch Costumes', Elmar, B V, the Netherlands
Constance Neuwhoff, 'Klederdrachten', Amsterdam, 1976
Jackie Craver and Phyllis Zylstra, 'Dutch Costumes, a Look into the Past', Pella, Iowa, 2007
 Elsa M Valeton, 'Niederlandischer Trachten', Amsterdam, after 1959
E. Van der Ven-Ten  Bensel, 'Dances of the Netherlands', New York, 1949
Gardilanne and Moffat, 'National Costumes of Holland',  year unknown


  1. Great visual record of the Volendam costume. I'm an Orange City native, and disagree with your Calvinist statement at the end there. The town is chock full of Calvinists, but every year at the annual Tulip Festival you'll find Dutch dancing galore, all in authentic costumes. :o) We, as well as Pella Iowa, Holland Michigan and Lynden Washington all try and keep those Dutch traditions alive through the generations. Thank you for this research, though. I'm sewing Friesian and Volendam costumes for this year's festival and enjoy the detail you went into for this province/town.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement.
      I am very glad that such communities care enough to put in the effort to keep such cultural richness alive. You inspired me to do an article on Friesian Costume I hope that you find it in time for it to be of use to you.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. hi, thanks for your wonderful blog. :)

    the reason why Volendam costume is known so well is because of trade, in my Dutch opinion. In the 1930's it was chosen as a symbol to promote inland cheese-consumption. Back then lots of products were promoted with folk costume and some brands still thrive today such as butter:Zeeuws Meisje Plantaardig and syrup: De Zeeuwse Boerin Keukenstroop
    In the 1960's the Volendam costume was used to promote cheese export to Germany, our big neighbour. The symbol is known as Frau Antje and appeared everywhere in Holland too, especially on big trucks on their way to Germany.
    Besides that: Volendam is a small intriguing village very close to Amsterdam so international tourists can visit it on the same day they enjoy the great musea, a canal boat ride and the red light district. Holland in one day ;)

    other colourfull costumes in Holland are from Marken, Hindeloopen, Staphorst, het land van Axel, Walcheren and many more. Your source 'Klederdrachten' shows a lot of them.
    There is a little book book dedicated to the thread-techniques in Marken costumes which is very nice, it's called "de handwerken op het eiland Marken" from Maria van Hemert.

    well, I'm off to explore your blog. Does my enthousiasme show much? I find traditional costume very practical en colourfull and I wear a handmade modern version allmost every day. With wooden clogs/clomps because they are the most practical shoes for outdoor work. You leave them by the door and slip them on when you go outside. They are light and very sturdy. They even qualify as steelnosed workman boots in construction work.
    Where I live everybody has them.

  4. I found this article while searching online for a way to re-shape and possibly starch a lace cap. I have a child's cap that has been stored in a drawer for 20+ years and the wings are now creased and flattened. I would appreciate any suggestions you could offer for restoring the shape of the cap.

  5. I just sent an email saying how this website helped me so very greatly find an authentic Dutch Folk Costume in an antique store in an area here in St. Louis we call "Dutchtown" as it was settled by Dutch. At first I found 2 very very old Dutch hats but because they were very yellowed, from age, but in excellent shape other than this, I didn't know what I had bought! By looking at this website I then recognized that the 2 sets of aprons and "bibs" belonged to the hats and then when I got to the store noticed the shirts the owners had along with the aprons and Krapla (bibs) went with these hats. I do not have the skirt or shoes but am very pleased to have come across this website or I would not have gone back for the rest of the costume, not knowing it went together, it looks very old and thank goodness I didn't break it up, but kept it together! I also, amazingly, just a few weeks ago discovered my husbands Dutch lineage and this find is extra special as his daughter is having a baby in July, who has the same name as this great, great, great, great, great, greatgrandma who I traced her baptismal to the REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH in New York- - which is still in exisistence.
    I think it is so cool! Wish I was Dutch! Oh!...and I found some dolls that were made in the Netherlands recently too

  6. what about the men costume

  7. I am researching about Volendam Dutch costume and I'm so happy to find so much information here in your site. I hope you won't mind if I include a link to your page in my post.

  8. Hello, i am interested in having a Dutch costume made. Would you please contact me? Thank you

  9. What a wonderful post! My parents returned from the Netherlands in the early 80's with a traditional outfit for me and my daughter is going to wear it at her elementary school this week as they research and learn about the Netherlands. After all of these years it was wonderful to hear a full explanation of the outfit again so I can help my daughter properly share the history of the special outfit and a special country! Thank you!

  10. I am trying to make a Dutch Brabantse Poffer. A lace hat worn in the south of the NL. I can find lots of images but very little info on how to make one....

    1. Michelle, if I may ask where you are from. I may be able to get you in touch with someone who can help you.

    2. I do not know much about lace. Here is a website with some publications that might help.

    3. Kari, it might be way too late for your project, but I know the heritage committee in Orange City, IA has gone to great lengths to obtain patterns and such for many of the costumes throughout the Netherlands, including Brabant! I'd give them a try...Denise De Vries and Marlys Hopp. Might be able to reach them through the Orange City Tulip Festival website. There are nice pictures on there of all the various costumes as well. Good luck!

  11. The Dutch Costume Museum in Amsterdam shows all the traditional costumes in a monumental canal house. We also have a museumshop with costumes and all products are inspired by the folk fabrics from the traditional Dutch costumes. You are welcome to visit us. Soon we will open the webshop

  12. The link for the Orange City Iowa page is broken. We appreciate you linking to our website, but please try this link instead! Thank you~

  13. Hello,
    I would like to buy or receive the first picture (on top of this page) in a high resolution. Would that be possible or could you link me to the page where you originally got it?
    Thanks in advance,

    1. You can right click on the image to save it. If that is not a high enough resolution, I could rescan it and email it to you. You would have to give me an email address to send it to. I did not get that from a webpage, that was scanned from the book by Gardilanne and Moffat.

    2. I have replaced the image with a high resolution one

    3. Dear Roman,
      Thank you very much for your very quick response! I didn't expect that. An even higher resolution would be great actually. Thank you very much in advance. Where can I send you my e-mail address to in a way it is not public? Best regards

    4. Dear Roman, can we discuss a way in which we can share our contact details in order to send the photo?

  14. We've just returned from a visit with our Volendam friends who are descendants of the early inhabitants. They were trying to explain the correct way to wear the traditional Volendam dress, and now I can see what they meant. While there we visited the very informative Volendam Museum. From their website: "Enjoy the lifelike and authentic displays depicting daily life in old Volendam, including original film footage and paintings by the many artists who visited Volendam. As icing on the cake, there's also the Cigar Bands House: an astonishing piece of home craft of a retired monk from Volendam who decorated his entire house with 11 million cigar bands that make up colourful mosaics."

  15. Hi I live in Canada and have to move to a smaller home. I need to sell a pair of old hand made clogs and two original Volendam outfits to a costume store which will rent to film studios etc. Do you have any idea how much I should ask for them?

  16. I am sorry, but I have no idea

  17. Hi I am so thrilled I found your blog, I really found you by error, while I was browsing on Askjeeve for
    something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say
    many thanks for a marvelous post and a all round
    thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I
    don't have time to go through it all at the moment but
    I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
    will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep
    up the great work.

  18. Amazing blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I'm hoping to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything.
    Would you propose starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many options out there that I'm completely overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Kudos!

    1. No Idea, im sorry. I just used the first one that I found

  19. Is there a source which explains the history of the lovely white lace hats? Who ever thought up that incredible design?
    Thank you. Marta

    1. I have no idea, but lace is very popular in the netherlands in general, and various lace hats are found both there and in France

  20. Hello.
    I am doing a project in school about the Netherlands, their traditions and folkcostume. Thank you for your information on the folkcotume.
    Do you perhaps know any online stores that sell and ship (internationally) a folkcostume?
    Thank you

    1. OddvΓΈr- You are probably done with your school project by now but sadly there is not any way to get a premade Dutch flok costume anywhere online. Only sewing kits to make a folkwear dress is available and only for within the U.S. I would suggest this pinterest visual explanation on how to put together a folkwear Dutch Volendam outfit

  21. Thank you for such a great informative post! Congratulations!

  22. Hello,

    I really enjoyed your narrative on the Dutch costumes of Volendam. I am an artist, originally from Holland as a child, working on a narrative portrait of my parents. They came to Holland from Indonesia on their honeymoon and of course went sight seeing. They had their black and white photo taken of them in traditional costume in Volendam in 1949. I am attempting to colorize their skin tones and also the costumes. I looked for information that is in your blogpost but was not available in 2013 when I first started my project. Thank you for all the research you did and I still find it very helpful. I actually went to Volendam in 2010 with my family and had us all pose in costume for future portrait work. I love the rich history of classical art in Holland and strive to be a part of it one day.

    1. cool, Good luck in your project, iam from indonesia and a artist who is interested in the Dutch Costumes and ive taken a foto in Volendam in 2011. wow were kinda the same haha

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  25. Do you know why the hats are pointy or stick out to the sides?