Traditional Folk Costumes of Switzerland

Updated April 17, 2017

Switzerland has a rich history and a distinctive visual style that charms many tourists and locals alike. Although today Swiss people wear contemporary Westernized clothes, according to Every Culture, you can still observe traditional Swiss costumes at certain parades or festivals. These costumes vary from region to region, but are often elaborate and beautiful, showing off the traditional Swiss talent for embroidery. These traditional costumes reflect the vibrant heritage of Switzerland.

General Overview

According to the Ushouldvisit travel website, Switzerland's traditional costumes have been influenced by many different cultures, and yet they remain distinctive. In the 18th century, Switzerland enjoyed a period of wealth that allowed for luxurious, creative embroidery and lacework. That influence is still seen in traditional Swiss clothing today.

As you explore the history of Swiss folk costumes, you may find the costumes varying, which reflects the different cultures and religions found throughout Switzerland. Most costumes include the same general characteristics, however. For instance, many costumes feature blouses with puffy sleeves, vests or ribbons. Swiss costumes also typically feature colours such as red, green or black.

Women's Costumes

For women, the typical Swiss folk costume features a puffy blouse and skirt, a tight vest and a generous use of ribbon or lace. According to Ushouldvisit, the traditional Swiss folk costumes for women usually involve beautiful floral embroidery. This is especially true for "Sunday best" outfits, with flowers imitating the flowers found in Swiss gardens. Tights are a popular choice for women and girls, usually in red or white. Women from the Unterwalden region in Switzerland traditionally wear clothing with silver colouring. In the past, women from Gruyere wore aprons and gold caps or beribboned straw hats.

Men's Costumes

Swiss men enjoy traditional costumes that are as elaborate as the women's costumes. According to Ushouldvisit, men from the Gruyere region traditionally wear cropped jackets, while men from the Alpine region wear "lederhosen" (traditional shorts made from leather). Bachelors have traditionally kept a bright red handkerchief in their trousers pockets, although married men do not. Swiss folk costumes for men often feature loosefitting shirts or blouses paired with trousers. When men or boys wear tights, they usually go for dark colours. The shirt cuffs and scarves may feature the characteristic Swiss embroidery.

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About the Author

Sally Murphy began writing professionally in 2000. She has worked as a writing instructor and written for various organizations and publications on topics ranging from history to hairstyles to television shows. Murphy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in writing.