Welsh National Costume
Generally today the Welsh National Costume tends only to be worn on special occasions, such as when the people of Wales celebrate St David’s Day. Although now commercially available traditionally the costumes would have been made by the mothers for their daughters to wear.
The costume that we see today isn’t the same as those that would have been worn by the Welsh women originally. It is believed that this particular costume was made for those who were competing at certain special events such as dance competitions or the International Eisteddfodau, which takes place in Llangollen every year and began back in 1947.
The Welsh National Costume that is worn today came about as they were not only looking for some thing that was practical to wear, but also comfortable. Furthermore they wanted to make sure that what was being worn was very distinctive to help them easily recognise their nation against another. Generally today the costumes worn by dance teams tend to be based on the tailored gowns worn by women in the South West areas of Wales.
There are numerous elements to the Welsh National Costume and below we take a look at what these are.
- Bedgown (Gown) – This along with the hat is probably the most distinctive feature of the costume. There are two forms of this that can be worn. There is the tailored type that tightly fits the wearer and comes with a low cut top and wide long tail. Then there is the one that looks rather like kimono.
- Pais (Skirt and Underskirt) – Generally these are made from heavy flannel and will come with vertical stripes in bold colors such as red and dark blue or black and white. However some women prefer to have horizontal stripes on theirs.
- Cape or Mantel – These tend to be quite long with a hood that is large in order to cover the hat. Traditionally such are made from blue wool, however many are now made from red wool instead.
- Shawl – The shawls worn with the Welsh National Costume do vary from one part of the country to another. Some women will wear a square shawl with fringing all around it. Whilst others will wear a turnover which is made from much finer materials rather than wool. Then there are those women who prefer to wear a large rectangular or square woollen one or the type referred to as a nursing shawl.
- Welsh Hat – Just like the Bedgown this is of course the most distinctive feature of the Welsh National Costume. It comes with a broad, stiff flat brim and a tall crown. However the shape of the crown does differ from one part of the country to another. In the North Western parts of Wales the crown has a more drum like shape to it. Whereas the crown of the hat worn by women in the rest of the country tends to have a slight tapered look. This particular item tends to be made from felt.