The general population in Switzerland dresses in Western-style clothing and headwear. Traditional costumes and headdresses are typically brought out for festivals, parades and other types of celebrations. Different cities and regions in Switzerland have different variations of traditional costume, but these often have elements in common.
Feast Day Headdresses
A "feast day" costume is a traditional outfit that Swiss women sometimes wear on religious occasions. Some women also wear feast day costumes for special events, such as the marriage of their children. A headdress is part of the feast day costume. It is made of lace and resembles an open fan. The headdress can stand more than six inches tall and is made to sit atop a woman's head. A wide ribbon often trails down from the edge of the fan. The headdress is also referred to as a schlappe. It is often black in colour, although some women wear white lace or grey feast day headdresses.
Embroidery is very common in traditional Swiss costumes. It is typically used sparsely, on the edges of sleeve cuffs, scarves or hats. Embroidery itself used to be an industry in northeast Switzerland. Today, it is still considered one of the country's strongest folk arts, along with wood carving and poetry. Traditional women's hats might have embroidery around the edges to add colour or design.
Beribboned Straw Hats
The traditional costumes of Switzerland mixed fashion with functionality. In the cattle-herding region of Gruyere, women wore silk aprons but they also wore straw hats on their heads. The straw hats were oftentimes adorned with a ribbon. Sometimes the women of the region also wore gold caps. When Swiss women today wear straw hats as part of a traditional costume, they sometimes adorn them with pieces of plastic fruit or other decorations. The hats are often worn tilted on the head.
According to the Swiss National Costume Association, traditional Swiss hats could range from the simple to the ornate. The association offers a costume exhibition with traditional Swiss gear on display. Some items include large beaded hats that could sit several inches off of a woman's head. The beads in the headdresses are bright and feature shades of red, yellow, blue and green.