Friday, December 6, 2013

Overview of Swiss Costume

Hello all,

I received a request for some information the traditional clothing of Switzerland, especially of the area around Luzern, so I will give a very short overview of this information.

Switzerland, as is well known, is a multilingual nation which strongly identifies as one ethnicity. This is extremely unusual, and is rooted in the fact that the Swiss Confederation was voluntary on the part of its citizens, at least at first, and as it grew, that was still mostly true. 

Here is a linguistic map of Switzerland, one showing the names of the cantons, and one showing more detail.

Covering the cantons from the northeast, going counter-clockwise. This is a very short and incomplete overview.

Allemanisch or 'German' Switzerland:

St. Gallen











[includes Obwalden and Nidwalden]





This is a large canton with several costumes, here is just a sample.

where the famous cheese comes from

Emmental on the right, Bern midlands on the left
Berner Mutz



'French' and Savoy, or 'Welschland' Switzerland. 
[Welsch is an old Germanic word meaning 'people whose language we don't understand']






The west half of the canton is French/Arpitan speaking, and the east half is German/Allemanisch speaking. This canton is also rather large and rich in costumes.

This, along with a couple of the southern valleys of Graubuenden, makes up 'Italian' Switzerland.

The last canton, home of the Romansch language, also home to German/Allemanish and Italian speakers.

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this interesting and informative.

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.
Roman K.


Source material:
Lotti Schuerch - Louise Witzig, 'Trachten der Sweiz', Bern, 1978
Louise Witzig, 'Schweizer Trachtenbuch', Zurich, 1954
Louise Witzig et Edwige Eberle, 'Costumes Suisse', Lausanne, 



  1. Wat heb ik genoten van al deze prachtige kleding.
    Als Hollandse zijn wij wel bekend met de klederdracht.

  2. Thank you so much for all your hard work and effort to compile this!

  3. Thank you very much for this! Have a question about one region in the Valais, Val d"Illiez, I have an ancestor that came from there and was noticing the womens costumes were slacks and a red sash! Do you know the history behind this by any chance?

    1. Have a look here
      Slacks and red headscarf was a work suit.

  4. I need a Swiss costume. can you tell me where I can get one in a large size?

  5. Your blog is beautiful! My husband's Bern black velvet jacket has lost a couple of silver buttons. Would you please advise me where to purchase some?

      try this website. Or you can email the Bernese cultural website or cultural groups, or trachtengruppe.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Чы вы размавляеце па расейску? Я маю пытанне пра адзёжу гэтага рэгiёна.

    1. Добрый день. Спасибо за интересную информацию о народном костюме швейцарцев. Как я понимаю, это главным образом праздничная одежда крестьян. Меня однако весьма интересует повседневный костюм австрийской или швейцарской аристократии, мелкопоместного (может быть, обедневшего) дворянства в альпийских регионах в 1880-1890 гг? Были ли в их повседневном костюме какие-то специфические, самобытные, национальные элементы? Исторические детали из прошлых веков? Или они носили усредненную европейскую одежду: дамы - по журнальной моде, мужчины - пиджак, брюки и так далее, как всюду, в Лондоне, Берлине, Копенгагене? Был ли их повседневный костюм похож на знаменитый костюм альпийских туристов? Дамы, барыни, как я понимаю, конечно, не носили простонародный dirndl, но и нарядные платья они надевали не каждый день, верно? Носили ли мужчины куртки, короткие штаны culottes, высокие до колен чулки? Ведь аристократия, бароны, князья это не клерки, не нотариусы, не купцы, и поэтому деловой костюм меня не интересует. Я, возможно, задал слишком сложный и обширный вопрос, но надеюсь, вы посоветуете какую-нибудь литературу, картины живописцев или, может быть, кинокартины. Спасибо в любом случае.

  8. Hello. I fell in love with the paintings of Ernest Bieler and would love to sew myself some clothing using the fabrics the women wear in his art. The simple striped and checked fabric that you see in many of their skirts - do you know if this is still made in Switzerland? If so where I might buy it? Thank you for your help.

    1. try these websites.

  9. I need to to thank you for this fantastic read!!

    I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to look at new stuff
    you post…

  10. Great page. Where can one purchase these dresses, handmade by native Swiss people? Seems like many are not even made anymore. Sad. I don't see any stores selling traditional dresses in Vaud where I live. It's very sad people don't care enough to keep up their traditions. Need to bring it back and better ASAP. Please let me know all of the places which you know where I can buy nice Swiss dresses for my wife.

  11. Felicitaciones.Qué colección completa.interesante y bien ilustrada! Desde Argentina envío saludos cordiales

  12. Thank you. Love this, what a great page. I have fallen in love with the traditional Emmental costume/dress. Can you tell me where to purchase the hooks/stays and pins?

    Thank you,
    Kathy Rose

  13. Can you make me a Swiss costume and the black hat? Or do you know someone that can make it for me. My grandmother used to make ours. I remember we always had red aprons. Or do you know where I can buy a pattern to make it myself? Please help me!! Thank you!! Marla Hutchison

  14. I have enjoyed tremendously your page. I have used it to make swiss outfits for my grandchildren who live in a small town in the Appalachian mountains that was first settled by the Swiss.Thank you

  15. My great aunt traveled in Switzerland, Austria and Germany in the 30s (I believe) and brought my mother ho was still a young girl a traditional costume. I found it in the family antique cedar chest. It is very ornate, has many pieces. A bird crest (falcon or eagle) is center of skirt done in a metallic bead. Can you help me identify it if I send you photos? What should I do with it?

  16. From Chibiyosi
    Hello!I love SWISS Shooting Festival Coins and I am writing a book of them. Then, I would like to use your Switzereland map with flags. May I use it for free?