Monday, September 5, 2022

Costumes of West Brabant, the Netherlands


Hello all, 
Today I will finish my article on the costumes of the Province of Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands, with the costume of the western part of the province, West-Brabant, also called The barony of Breda and The marquisate of Bergen op Zoom. Some minority costumes in this region will also be covered. 

Here is a map showing the Province of North-Brabant within the Netherlands, here shown in pale green.  Note that a large part of Brabant now lies in Belgium.

Breda and Bergen op Zoom have separate histories, but both wear this costume. Here is the approximate extent of  West-Brabant, lying west of this line. 

As in the central and eastern parts of North Brabant, the main costume has no distinctive features, but the caps used are unique. The caps in this area mostly developed from the historical Brabantse muts, the Brabant cap. This cap has long side lappets which are sometimes doubled, and no frill hanging from the neck. This is in contrast to the caps which are worn further east, in Den Bosch and Limburg. The top of the cap is often enlarged. 

This woman is from Breda.

This woman is from Oosterhout. 

This woman is from Halsteren.

This is a Catholic woman from Oudenbosch

Here are a couple of museum pieces of the old style cap from Etten-Leur. These have not been laundered or starched. Notice that the side lappets are doubled. 


The Brabant cap has been retained in the folk costume of Hulst, in southeastern Zeeland, close to the Brabant border. This costume belongs to the West Brabant type rather than the Zealand type. Note that here the cap has a ribbon tied around the base of the lappets. 

Just east of this area, in the extreme southwest of North Brabant, lies the region of

Here the cap is called the Speldenmuts, or pin cap. The only ornament used in this region, besides the basic lace, is hundreds of tiny pins, often copper, inserted parallel to each other down the center of the lappet, lengthwise. This first one only has them on the top half, perhaps they got lost. 

 A few more images of this cap.

Like so many details of true folk costume, this needs to be appreciated from close up. 

Willemstad, Finjaart and the north

This area has more in common with costumes to the north and east. The cap included a ruffle in back. The daily cap was often crotched, and this rear ruffle was kept. 

This cap of plain opaque linen was for times of mourning.

Here is a photo of a Protestant woman from Oudenbosch, wearing this cap and another decorative cap over it.

The Catholic women of Oudenbosch wore either the old Brabant cap, or later, the cap of Breda and Bergen op Zoom. 

Zundert and Chaam

This region lies in the south of this area, and is the home of the so called Belgian Cap.

This cap is worn only in these two southern extensions of western North Brabant. It has a back of lace, and several rows of goffered lace around the face. The back is ornamented with wide colored ribbons which hang down behind. 

This cap is worn over a headband with fake hair locks and a black undercap. See below for the manner of putting them  on. 

The rest of the costume is similar to that of Bergen and Zoom, and in all parts of this province they are fond of wearing Paisley shawls. Some more images of the Belgian cap costume. 

Here we see various caps from North Brabant. A woman wearing the 'Belgian cap' is in the center.

Breda and Bergen op Zoom

This costume was worn in the central corridor of West Brabant, from Bergen op Zoom east to Breda area, roughly indicated on the map above. There were two basic types of caps worn here for dress occasions. The Strakke Muts, and the Plooimuts, also called the Dubbele Muts. 
The Strakke Muts, or 'tight fitting cap' is less expensive and fancy than the Plooimuts,  'pleated cap', or Dubbele Muts, 'double cap'. Not everyone could afford the Plooimuts. The Plooimuts differed in that the side lappets are gathered or pleated, and the dressy overlay was more elaborate. Caps for mourning were made of plain opaque linen with no lace. 

By themselves, the Strakke Muts. The first is an everyday cap, very plain, and the second is more dressy, made of finer lace. 

To put on the strakke muts, first the hair is put up into a bun. A band is fastened around the forehead. This band always has two hanging ornaments of fake hair.

Sometimes the fake hair locks are long and fastened to the bun. 

After this a black undercap is put on, as is usual all over the Netherlands. Care is taken that the forehead band is visible. This protects the lace cap from the hair, and provides contrast for the lace. 

After this the strakke muts itself is put on. The lappets fit tightly to the head, and the back is full, showing off the lace. 

For dressier occasions, a band with looped ribbons and some artificial flowers are put on over the muts. 

The form of the plooimuts is similar, but the lappets are gathered and goffered. This, of course, requires much more lace. 

It is put on the same way, but instead of wearing the strap, the 'crown' is put on instead. This is a rather large puff of artificial flowers, somewhat similar to the 'poffer' worn further east, but it is confined to the forehead area. 

This is obviously more elaborate and expensive than the strakke muts, and not all women could afford one, but those who could wore it on more dressy occasions. 

The cap worn in times of mourning was made like the plooimuts, but of opaque linen and no lace. This could be worn with or without the crown. 

There were two kinds of headgear worn for workdays. The first is sometimes called the lol, and resembled the girls' cap of eastern Brabant and Limburg. It was made of printed cotton, with many ruffles and bows.  

The other is a basket shaped straw hat, called kaphoed, hood. This was used as protection from the sun and the elements. It was worn over a lace muts. It was ornamented with wide decorative ribbons. 

As you can see above, the work clothing consisted of a heavy wool skirt and jacket, caraco, over the chemise and petticoats, and included an apron.  Dress clothing was usually a one piece dress, often with various dickeys, and much jewelry. There was much individual variation.

Men in these photos are either wearing a suit from the appropriate time period, or are wearing smocks and workman's caps. 

I will close with more images from this region. The majority will be of the plooimuts and crown. 

Thank you for reading, I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative. To those of you who perform Dutch dances, perhaps you will consider adding these costumes to your repetoir. 

Roman K.



  1. Any idea what the fake flowers were made out of?

    1. I took another look at my sources, and it does not say. I imagine that that they were made of silk.

  2. I'm fascinated by the rows of pins on the caps -interesting that that display of wealth stayed on in that one tiny area. Makes my fingers ache to think of taking them out and placing them in again after washing and ironing the cap!
    Thank you for the post - always of interest! Charlotte

  3. This cap is worn over a headband with fake hair locks and a black undercap. I like that picture