The popular image of a traditional Welsh national costume or Welsh National Dress, of a woman in a red cloak and tall black hat, is one which has developed as a result of various influences which arose in the nineteenth century.
People felt that their Welsh national identity was under threat and the wearing of a national costume was one way to declare that identity.
Today the costume can be most often seen on St Davids Day (Dewi Sant) and at tourist centres and events.
The Welsh national costume was really the every day dress of the peasant, the farm servants and cottagers and was designed for hard wear.
Two hundred years ago however, the advent of the industrial revolution in the UK heralded the end of home made cloths so only the patterns and a few of the idiosyncrasies of the local versions have survived.
The costume is based on clothing worn by country women during the early nineteenth century as seen here in this early woodblock carving c1860 of Welsh Costumes.
The tall "chimney" hat did not appear until the late 1840s and is thought to be based on a mixture of the top hats worn by men at that time and a form of high hat worn by women in country areas during the 1790 - 1820 period.
The garments were commonly made from flannel or wool.
CymruTeds version of the Welsh national costume on our signature Teddy Bear... We call her The Welsh Lady and only a few are produced every year
There are many different styles and colours of cloth used so that there is, in reality, no Welsh “national” costume but many variations, often using fabrics that were commonly available.
However, a consensus appeared in the late 20th century, as with many things in modern Wales, so the modern costume is now an idealized form of fancy dress and is typically, though not always, made up from the following …
- Tall Hat - made out of a hard board with thin felt or beaver fabric glued on.
- Cap - white, worn under the hat, made of cotton or muslin with long frilled lappets extending down the shoulders, now often represented by lace trim around the brim of the hat.
- Bed gown.
- Blouse - white.
- Petticoat - white - now commonly with a lace edge.
- Shawl - red flannel or wool - now commonly a paisley pattern.
- Skirt - Often made of wool. Black or a black and white check pattern.
- Apron - white and often edged with lace
- Stockings - black woollen.
- Black shoes.