Ukrainian national clothes/costumes

Ukrainian national clothesUkrainian folk costume is national clothes of Ukrainians, created at all stages of Ukrainian history.

In general, Ukrainian national costume includes the same constituents. All clothes differed depending on the season of the year (summer and winter), the social status of the population in Ukrainian lands (nobility, Cossacks (military), urban inhabitants, Pospolita, rural inhabitants, Chumaks),  the natural and climatic features of the area, that is, the clothes of the population of the forest strip (Polissya) differed from the clothing of the mountain population (Hutsuly, Boiky, Lemky) and from the forest-steppe (Podilia, the Dniester, Sloboda Ukraine) or steppe lands (Zaporizhzhia, Bessarabia). Moreover, the dress was special for festive occasions and for every day. This type of clothes was the basis of the national dress. The main elements of the Ukrainian national dress were formed even in the prince's times, and later almost did not change. This is evidenced by the names of clothes which were known since the prince's time: svyta (an outerwear made of homemade coarse cloth), kozhukh (a traditional Ukrainian fur coat) and sorochka (a shirt). The Ukrainian costume has the features of Scythian and Byzantine clothes. The insignificant changes in clothing were also influenced by historical times and changes in government system within the borders of Ukrainian lands. So the clothes of the prince's epoch had the features of Byzantine culture, and the garment of the Cossack era was changed under the influence of adaptation to military clothing.

"Only Ukrainians and Parisians are able to dress with taste! You will not believe how beautiful girls are dressing, the guys are also fine ... these are really folk, convenient and graceful costumes, no matter that boots are hefty. And what are ducats, necklaces! Headbands, flowers! And what are the faces! And what is the language! It’s just beauty, beauty and beauty!"

Ilya Repin

National clothes of the Cossack era

The beginning of the Cossacks is considered by historians to have been since the beginning of the twelfth century.  After the destruction of the last Sich (1775), Ukrainian clothes of the Cossack period, under the influence of the culture of another country, came to a decline and gradually began to change. The popularity of the Cossack garment was at its height in the seventeenth century. During the revival of the Ukrainian People's Republic, the Ukrainian army was formed, and some regiments and hovels were dressed in Cossack clothes of the ancient type. The main overalls of the Cossack times were Zhupan and Kuntush (types of traditional outwear).  Zhupan is a garment which is sewn with a narrow straight collar. There were small silver or gold buttons and haplyky (a metal clamp sewn to the clothes against the loop, and serves as a buckle) on it.  Kuntush is the garment which was also sewn with a rounded collar and a triangular cutout in front and with cut-out sleeves that were often laid behind. You could dress Zhupan separately, or dress Kuntush over it. Zhupan and Kentush were tied with a wide silk belt. Kuntush and Zhupan were worn until the end of the 18th century and in some areas until the middle of the 19th century. The Cossack sergeant major would also wear kiriya (a robe), which was put over Kuntush and fastened around the neck with the fastener. The clothes of the Cossack era differed from those of the 19th century. The difference was in fabric, not in cut. Kuntush and Zhupan were both men's and women's wear. Such clothes were worn on the territory of all Ukrainian lands. Men wore wide trousers and boots, while women wore silk skirts and stockings (aprons). Both men and women used to wear hats on their heads. Besides, married women also put on kybalky (a traditional Ukrainian women's head wear in the form of a high headband with two long ends which fell on the back) and namitky (a type of headdress in the form of a linen or thin, elongated length of a piece of fabric, up to 5 m in length, about 50 cm in width, tied around the head). Ukrainian national clothes of the Cossack era have many common features with the Polish clothes of that period, as Polish clothing under the influence of the "Sarmatian Era" changed and became closer to Ukrainian Cossack clothing.

Rusyny 1563 (Pietro Bertelli)
Rusyny 1563 (Pietro Bertelli)

Prince Dmitry Vyshnevetsky (~ 1517 - † ~ 1564)

Prince Dmitry Vyshnevetsky (~ 1517 - † ~ 1564)

Ukrainian clothes

In 1598 Venetian Cesare Vechello was one of the first Europeans who described in his book "Ancient and modern clothes from around the world" the men's costume of Rusyns (Ukrainians): "Rus (Ruthenia) has borders with Muscovites, Livonians and Lithuanians. The provinces often fight among themselves ... Rusyns wear high hats, with a decoration on top, Their long clothing has fastenings on the chest up to the belt, half-sleeved clothes and very high collar. In battle, they mostly use bows and sabers. "

Cossack clothes in the 16th century were a little bit different from the clothes in the 19th century.  At that time Cossacks wore garnet-colored dresses (zupaniki) with narrow collars, which were fastened with buttons (haplyky). Such dresses (zupaniki) were dressed in wide trousers to the belt. A white shirt with a narrow collar was under the zhupan. This white shirt was fastened with bright jewelry. Above the trousers Cossacks wore a wide belt, on which an ox-like horn was hung, and the knife was hung with a brassy chain. Leather bags were hung on sides, one on the ball, and the other on the steel. Moreover, the pistol was put behind the belt. Cossacks wore Kuntush with vylots (a type of sleeves) over dresses (zupaniki) and sleeves thrown over their shoulders. They wore sticks in the hands or behind the belt and the coat was hung on the left shoulder. The head was shaven, the forelock was braid and laid behind the right ear, the mustache was twisted. They wore black hats from karakul on the head the same color as the zhupan. The masters wore pomegranate zhupans at that time, sewn on the sides with golden or silver halons and gray hats from karakul.

The clothes of Ukrainians were described by Anthony Yaksa-Martsinkivsky in the nineteenth century. According to him people from the left side of Irpin dressed up in the best way. Girls or women wore the girth from yellow cloth with black longitudinal stripes. In the front they were dressed in pomegranate aprons. Then they wore a red or yellow belt above clothes. The women also wore ochipok (a type of hat especially for women) in flowers on the head, in the form of a hat, and above a linen kerchief in the red longitudinal strips, which were tied. They also wore a white shirt and a white svyta (a type of shirt) on it. In winter instead of svyta they would wear kozhukh (a type of cloak). People wore girth of a black color near Kanev, Korsun and Smila. Zapasky ( a type of aprons) were blue.

On holidays women wore silk embroidered ochipok (a kind of hat) and bound it with a white namitka (a type of headdresses). They also wore a white, embroidered on the sleeves shirt with red or blue cotton threads. Women put on corals on the neck. The festive skirt was made of brightly colored wool. The older women also wore checked plakhty (a type of traditional skirts). Less well-off people were dressed in home-made green or poppy ornamented litnyky (a skirt of light cotton fabric, which was worn in the summer).  They wore yellow or red boots. Girls wore on their heads wreaths of flowers, peacock feathers and tinsels with ribbons.  Instead of aprons girls wore brightly red zapasky (a kind of aprons). When girls wore aprons, they bound belts to them, the ends of which hung in front.  On the left side of the Dnipro women wore yupky (a kind of coats without sleeves) which were called jacket, as well as sapyantsi or pasovi choboty (types of traditional shoes).

Men wore a black or white svyta (an ancient overcoat made of coarse cloth).  Above it they also put on a white kozhukh (a kind of cloak) with a round collar of black astrakhan. People, who were not very rich, wore a black hat from astrakhan.  Well-off could afford to have grey hats.  Men always wore hats from astrakhan and shirts with a straight collar. They wore yupky (a kind of coats without sleeves) above shirts. The youth put on a short half-captan (traditional clothes). Women's shirts were embroidered on the sleeves with a zapoloch (colored cotton threads for embroidery) and lyakhovka (a type of embroidered narrow strip of cloth) on the lower edge of dresses. They were dressed in with 2 pieces of fabric plakhta (a kind of traditional skirts) and zapaska (a kind of aprons). Plakhta (a kind of traditional skirts) could be checked and made of brocade. Zapaska (a kind of aprons) was always plain. Leaving the house, women wore yupky (a kind of coats without sleeves) as men but a little bit shorter. Setting off they also wore svyta (an ancient overcoat made of coarse cloth) as men but a little bit longer. On the heads they also had ribbons with flowers. These ribbons were woven with plait. They wore sapyantsi (types of traditional shoes).