Lithuanian traditional clothing is rather modest and warm; it covers most of the body, usually leaving only hands and face open. And this can be explained by the specific chilly climate of the country. Most of the garments are made from linen and wool, hand-produced by the local people. Also, the traditional dress in Lithuania is very ornate – adorned with embroidery, lacework, crochet, interweaving, knitting, and other techniques. These clothing pieces often have rather archaic characteristics, designs, and patterns.
Lithuanian villages were still wearing folk costumes till the end of the 19th century, and even later in some areas. The costume of each of Lithuania’s ethnic regions was unique, decorative, and expressive of that particular area’s individual characteristics.
Men’s clothing, worn on Sundays and for special occasions, was quite soberly colored. Lithuanian males wore greatcoats and short jackets made of dark and undyed wool. In most regions, trousers (long trousers, for the most part) and vests were of the same color as the rest of their outerwear. But bright plaids and stripes were also popular in most areas. High-cut leather boots, bright woven sashes, and felt hats decorated with peacock or rooster feathers were common male accessories throughout Lithuania.
In general, women’s clothes were more picturesque and vivid than men’s and displayed many traditional regional characteristics. A typical women’s costume consisted of a white linen embroidered shirt, a long and wide skirt, an ornate bodice, and a beautifully decorated apron. In addition, women often wore large shawls or stoles wrapped over their shoulders. These outfits were completed with elaborate headdresses, jewelry pieces, and various other accessories.
Female clothing of the Aukstaitija region retained many archaic characteristics.
The typical skirt in this area could be linen with a red embroidered border or woolen with a checkered pattern. Of course, woolen skirts looked more festive. Skirts were long and wide. Women often used two skirts at once.
The apron was a very important and obligatory part of a Lithuanian folk dress – females couldn’t appear in public without an apron. The traditional Aukstaitija aprons were made of white linen and adorned with red or red&blue stripes.
The bodice was very decorative. Usually, it was made from wool, gold and silver brocade, velvet, silk, damask, etc. Narrow ribbons or metal chains females used for lacing.
Local married women wore linen sashes or wimples called “nuometas” as head coverings. Nuometas and other white fabrics were adorned with red ornamentation. Though, young girls used headgear called “galloon” – it is a heavy and wide ribbon made of metallic thread attached to sturdy silk backing.
In winter, women wore various woolen caftans called “sermėga”. They could be either short or long, embellished with stripes of velvet or other material.
The dominance of the white color in the costumes of married women in Aukstaitija showed dignity and solemnity.
Men in Aukstaitija area also wore woolen caftans called “sermėga”. They were gathered at the waist so that the skirt of this garment was pleated. Also, males used long trousers, shirts (which were almost fully hidden beneath the sermėga), and felt hats adorned with flowers and feathers.
Local females used beautifully embroidered shirts, colorful, finely checked skirts and aprons which were decorated with bright and playful designs.
The bodices were made from silk or wool in dark colors.
The outfit always was belted with a pretty woven sash. There were hundreds of different traditional patterns used to weave these belts.
Women wore crowns and galloons as headdresses. Married females in Dzukija used various bonnets made from cotton, lace, silk, and wool. These headpieces had embroidery or crochet as decoration. Also, they used white linen stoles with embroidery on the edges.
In Dzukija, women wore woolen caftans called “sermėga” similar to the ones used in Aukstaitija.
Lace, crochet, interweaving, and embroidery adorned clothes in this region.
The clothes of Dzukija men were similar to the Aukstaitija region.
The folk costumes of women from Suvalkija were traditionally richly colored.
Local embroidered shirts differed from other regions’ garments by wide sleeves gathered at the cuffs.
The skirts were wide and vertically striped, usually made from wool.
Bright overlay patterns against dark backgrounds characterized aprons in this area. There were 2 types of apron embellishments: Kapsai type had horizontal stripes and ornamentation and Zanavykai – vertical. The first aprons in this area were linen and embroidered in red.
The bodices were fancy, sewn from expensive factory-made fabrics (silk, brocade, wool, and damask). The flaps of bodices could be either short or rather long.
The headdresses of unmarried girls were tall ornate galloons. Married women wore various bonnets and stoles.
White linen items in Suvalkija were particularly artfully and delicately made. Women’s stoles, shirts, and kerchiefs sported intricately crafted lace and white broderie work.
In winter, females wore woolen caftans embellished with velvet and artificial fur. Large woolen scarves complemented the look for chilly weather.
The male clothes were practically the same as in the Aukstaitija region. Though, such outfits were used only till the beginning of the 20th century when modern clothing became popular.
Women's garments in the Klaipeda region (Lithuania Minor) in the 2nd half of the 19th century were somberly colored and elegantly proportioned.
Females in Klaipėda wore shirts that were cut differently from those in other ethnographic regions. They had raglan-style shoulders.
Shirts, kerchiefs, stoles, and caps were especially beautifully and creatively embroidered.
The skirts were wide and vertically striped or checkered.
The apron styles changed with time. First aprons were linen, white, and embroidered. Later, they became dark-colored. In the 2nd half of the 19th century, women wore dark-colored silk aprons.
The bodices often were made from silk, velvet, or wool. They also usually were dark-colored. The cuts were different.
In this region, women used richly patterned sashes and often added sort of a pocket called “delmonas”. This pocket was flat, sew from dark fabric, and adorned with embroidery, beading, etc. It was hung at the waist tied with a belt.
Young girls in Klaipeda region wore their hair elaborately braided and styled. They added ribbons and sashes to their hairdos. Married women used bonnets (from bobbin lace, velvet, silk, or wool), headscarves, and stoles. The stoles were very decorative, with a lot of embroideries.
In this region, knitted gloves, mittens, and stockings sported colorful and inventive patterns.
Men in this area wore linen shirts, dark caftans, trousers, leather or colorfully embroidered belts, and ornamented felt hats. The trousers were either long (as in other Lithuanian regions) or short, knee-length. With long pants they used high boots, with short trousers – short boots and patterned wool socks.