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The Terms for Traditional Gypsy Clothing

Updated March 28, 2017

The term "Gypsy" or "Roma" refers to a nomadic group of people whose clans spread nearly worldwide, though they are most concentrated in Europe. Despite the geographic distance between clans, the Gypsy traditions, including Gypsy clothing, remained similar even as Gypsy clans moved to new locations. Modern-day Gypsies have maintained many of the cultural traditions of their ancestors, and some clans have varied the traditional clothing to suit their region.

Traditional Women's Clothing

Gypsy women traditionally wear long, full pleated skirts with loosefitting "peasant-style" blouses. The skirt and blouse may be topped with a short vest and an apron, sometimes tied on the hip rather than the middle of the back. Married Gypsy women traditionally cover their hair with a headscarf (called a diklo). However, this custom is adapted to each region or clan. In some areas, Gypsy women wear ribbons instead of diklos to show they are married.

Modesty

While a Gypsy woman will often wear tops with low necklines, clothing with bright colours, and sometimes large jewellery, Gypsy culture directs women to show modesty by covering their legs. Traditionally, Gypsy women do not wear trousers or wear trousers only around immediate family members.

Traditional Men's Clothing

Unlike Gypsy women, the men have no particular type of traditional clothing. It is not uncommon for a Gypsy man to wear loosefitting shirts with wide sleeves, often called poet shirts, and vests. Some Gypsy men wear hats; Gypsy culture does not dictate that a man remove his hat when coming indoors. Traditionally dressed Gypsy men may wear a diklo around their necks, sometimes fastened with a ring.

Colour and Jewelry

Bright colours are a hallmark of Gypsy clothing. Men and women tend toward bright colours and fabrics in all their clothing.

Women typically have long hair and wear large jewellery. Gypsies often convert wealth into jewellery or gold coins (galbi). These coins were traditionally woven into a woman's hair or sewn into their clothing. Gypsy men also wear jewellery, including large belt buckles and embellished rings to fasten their diklos around their necks.

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About the Author

Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.