Folk belt avaThe variety of Ukrainian traditional belts and sashes used by men and women in the 19th – early 20th century is huge. There are folk belts to any taste and imagination – different sizes, widths, materials, and decorations. The most popular were hand-woven belts called “kraika”, wide fabric sashes, and decorative leather belts. Also, there was a tradition to belt the bride with a ceremonial cloth (similar cloths typically framed religious icons in Ukrainian houses). Here is a small collection of vintage folk belts and sashes from different regions of Ukraine.

Headdress avaFor many centuries, Ukrainians (and people of the Kyivan Rus’ before them, Slavic tribes before them, and Scythian and Sarmatian tribes before them) wore headdresses in everyday life. The variety of headwear was wide and depended on the occasion, status of the wearer, region, season, and other factors. While men’s hats were optional and were used for warmth and as a festive accessory, women’s headdresses were an obligatory piece among the married females. This time, we’ve decided to show you different vintage headpieces of Ukrainian men, married women, brides, and maidens from the 19th – first half of the 20th century.

Necklace avaEvery Ukrainian maiden and woman had a necklace 100 years ago. It was a must. She could not wear earrings, finger rings, or bracelets, but she usually had some necklaces on, even when doing daily chores. In some regions, adornments were extremely cheap and simple, in others – women went to the field in a Venetian glass necklace for, if her house got destroyed by fire when she was out, she could take off her necklace, sell it, and rebuild the house. That’s how expensive these jewels could be. But let’s have a good look at various vintage necklace sets from different regions of Ukraine.

Attire UA avaThese Ukrainian folk outfits belong to several private collections and are seldom shown to the public. Some of the garments and accessories are truly rare, unique, and valuable. Looking at these costumes, you realize how rich and diverse is Ukrainian culture. Particularly, there are samples of Ukrainian folk crafts of embroidering, weaving, jewelry making, leatherwork, block printing, lacemaking, wedding wreath creating, and so on. The private collectors who own the clothing you see in this post have preserved these items perfectly and very thoroughly.

Embroidery avaSometimes, it can be hard to find high-quality photos of Ukrainian needlework patterns so that you could use them to recreate Ukrainian traditional embroidered shirts or other pieces of clothing. We’re always trying to gather such pictures and share them with you, our beloved readers. We know how important it is to preserve and protect the national heritage and cultural achievements of all of the countries around the world. And in this post, we’d love to show you striking vintage needlework designs used by Ukrainian women over a hundred years ago.

Crimean Tatar avaThese two wonderful Crimean Tatar festive outfits are reconstructions of traditional costumes used in Crimea in the late 19th – early 20th century. They’re accurate and rather professionally created. Although, some of the items are real vintage pieces. For example, the women’s filigree belt – a masterpiece among traditional belts around the world. It is decorated with filigree flowers and is fastened in the front. Such a design is very typical for the Crimean Tatar silver jewelry and adornments.

Spin weave avaIn Ukraine, spinning and weaving using the simplest tools were widely common until the mid-20th century. Even today, there are many craftswomen and craft shops that continue to weave the fabric on simple 4-post wooden weaving looms. You can buy hand-spun yarn and hand-woven cloth at folk festivals and through the internet. But it’s more of a hobby or a rare profession than an everyday lifestyle, while in the past, practically every woman could spin and weave and produced clothes for the family herself. And here are the tools she used daily. Each one is unique, handmade, and has its character.

Floral embroidery avaFloral needlework is very typical for Ukraine and Slavic countries in general. There are literally thousands of floral embroidery patterns created by Ukrainian women’s imagination and skilled hands. They used dozens of needlework techniques and color palettes. We’ve gathered in this post a wide variety of different floral embroidery designs depicted on vintage Ukrainian folk clothing and ceremonial towels. Most of these items are at least 100 years old and exhibited in the local museums.

Ukrainian peasant clothing avaThese photos were made in the early 1910s in central Ukraine (Poltava region) by the photographer Anatoliy Pavlovych who was tortured and murdered in a Soviet NKVD special camp in the 1930s. His photo equipment was among the most high-tech and high-quality in Ukraine at the time. And he wanted to preserve the real look of Ukrainian traditional clothing until people still used these outfits daily. Some of the garments you see in his photos can be found nowhere else – even in museums and other old pictures. So, enjoy these historical photographs.

national Ukraine avaOn October 10, 2022, Ukraine was under massive missile attack from Russia. Russians fired over 80 rockets during only 1 day. Every deoccupied piece of Ukrainian land shows the results of awful barbarities and unimaginable cruelty from Russian soldiers toward the local civilians. We often hear the phrase, “Russians want to wipe out Ukrainian culture”. But what does “Ukrainian culture” actually mean? What will the world lose if Russia succeeds? This wonderful video will help you understand a bit more the Ukrainian traditional fashion and folk clothing and Ukraine’s input into world culture.

Demiseason avaUkrainian ladies of all ages traditionally wore rather curious demi-season outer garments. These bodices and jackets are used in Ukraine since the 16th-17th century and are a very important part of the local traditional attire. In public, women didn’t walk around in just an embroidered shirt, they always covered their upper body with some kind of outerwear, like kersetka, yupka, tsurkanka, bunda, keptar, and so on. It’s a pity most vintage outer garments that survived to this day are from the 19th – early 20th century. Still, they look lovely and are cutely adorned. Here are a few samples.

Costume Lviv63 avaOne of the very popular traditional outer garments in Ukraine are bodices, vests, and waistcoats. Such pieces of clothing are demi-season and comfy because they don’t restrict movements but keep your body warm. For centuries, Ukrainian women wore a variety of sleeveless garments, and in different regions, they had their own local names. Here are just some of these ethnic bodices and their traditional names. All of the items are preserved in different Ukrainian folk museums.

Male embroidery avaSadly, Russian troops in Ukraine are not only killing people and animals and destroying buildings, infrastructure objects, plants, and factories, they’re also destroying our historical sites and cultural objects, including folk museums, together with their collections. Ukrainians are very skilled in the craft of embroidery, so many local museums store vintage needlework samples and embroidered clothing, some of which are extremely rare and valuable. Some of the samples you’ll see in this post are probably already gone because they were stored in folk museums in those cities that suffer from heavy bombings.

Spadok8 avaChernihiv region of Ukraine is one of the oldest and most historically and culturally rich areas in the country. The local traditional attire takes roots from Kyivan Rus’ and has a lot of common features with the apparel of Kyivan Rus’. Sadly, in Russian-Ukrainian war, museums, historical sites, and storages with valuable cultural artifacts are destroyed en masse. The world is loosing masterpieces that form Ukrainian traditional culture. Here is a video with just one folk costume that will show you what Chernihiv clothing culture looks like.

Patchwork avaThe craft of patchwork is typical and rather widespread in America and Asia. The Turkic peoples, Native Americans, and Pakistanis are among the most skilled patchwork artisans, and this tradition goes back for centuries. Although, patchwork wasn’t always art – 19th-century women were often forced to use this technique to turn worn clothes into quilts, blankets, and other household textiles. At the same time, the art of patchwork is only emerging in Ukraine these days. And here’s what it looks like.

Spadok7 avaTraditionally, Slavic maidens wore their hair uncovered until marriage and after the wedding, always used a kerchief, wimple, or another headdress. No married woman should have been seen by people outside of her closest family without some kind of head covering. Today, this tradition is long in the past. But we’d like to show you a lovely video of a married lady from Eastern Ukraine dressing in traditional costume step by step. She is proudly wearing the accessories indicating her marital status.

Ukrainian embroidery45 avaUkrainian needlework is world famous. There is a huge variety of unique authentic patterns – floral, geometric, animal, etc. We’ve prepared several close-up photos of Ukrainian embroidery patterns seen on vintage folk clothing and ceremonial items from the 18th – early 20th century. Look at the color play, the diversity of patterns, the beauty of this traditional decoration! The older needlework designs, the more meaningful and significant they are, but even ordinary floral embroidery without any protective powers is charming enough for people to want it as embellishment for their clothes.

Ukrainians avaAt the beginning of the 20th century, a lot of men, women, and kids in Ukraine wore traditional clothes in daily life and especially for special occasions. In rural areas, handmade folk outfits were in use until the mid-1900s, while in cities and even some towns, people already switched their traditional clothes for modern industrially-made garments. Many old photos depicting people in national Ukrainian outfits (single men or women, newlyweds, and whole families) survived to this day. Their folk costumes show the regional differences in clothing tradition.

Headgear1 avaUkrainian married women traditionally covered their heads. This tradition takes roots in the ancient times – Scythian (585-260 B.C.), Sarmatian (450 B.C. - 400 A.D.), females of various Slavic tribes and the Kyivan Rus’ (882-1240 A.D.) all wore some kind of wimples or veils covering their hair. And Ukrainian women continued this tradition until the beginning of the 20th century. Obviously, there were some tricks and secrets of wearing different folk headdresses. We’d like to share a few of them with you.

Spadok6 avaThe traditional attire of Crimean Tatars looks striking. It has so many embellishments and unique features! If to talk about general style, these outfits are the closest to the Ottoman-style clothing. Here’s a wonderful video that shows all details of a Crimean Tatar traditional costume from basic underpinnings to charming accessories. These are authentic vintage garments of a Crimean Tatar woman from the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century.

museums avaWe write a lot about the traditional clothes and clothing crafts of Ukraine on this website, but it’s always better to see once than to hear one hundred times, so here is a detailed list of various folk museums in Ukraine. You can visit these exhibitions and witness in person, have a closer look, or even ask the museum curators about garments and clothing traditions you’re interested in. When you’re traveling, drop by a folk museum of the country you’re in and find out more about its culture.

Spadok5 avaAuthentic Ukrainian women’s clothing was designed perfectly because a female could wear it for years. She didn’t need special maternity clothes, her garments fit nicely through the whole pregnancy. Want to know how so? We offer you 4 wonderful video clips showing how a married woman dressed step by step in Ukrainian traditional attire over a century ago. All the clothing pieces are original, from the late 19th – early 20th century, and designed for special occasions.

Spadok4 avaIn the 19th – early 20th century, Ukrainians wore mostly handmade and hand-embellished clothing. That’s why every outfit from this period is unique, you literally won’t see two identical costumes. Every garment preserved in numerous Ukrainian museums and private collections is treasured by the locals. These 3 videos show the folk outfits of young unmarried girls (usually, they got married at the age of about 16-20). You’ll see that even rather young maidens already had costly and ornate clothing and dressed impressively bright.

Male costume ava2Leathercraft is one of the oldest handicrafts on Earth. And it is still a part of our life because we use a lot of leather and fur in our clothing. At the same time, we have many other choices, while our ancestors didn’t – they wore outerwear, shoes, and other indispensable accessories made from leather, skins, fur, and wool. This was the only way to survive. So, they learned to create masterpieces from such simple materials, and everything by hand only, with some primitive tools to help. These people were extremely skillful in leathercraft.

Ukrainian attire avaIn 18th-early-20th-century Ukraine, women – no matter how rich or poor – strived to look festive, wealthy, and spectacular on every special occasion. Every Sunday, they took their “Sunday best” from a closet (or rather a large chest) and went to the church or to the market or for a visit dressed in their fanciest clothes. Unfortunately, life in Ukraine was rather hard and needy at the time, as Ukraine was under the rule of the Russian Empire. So, the best women could afford was a piece of fine fabric for a skirt or apron, an imported silk kerchief, a coral necklace with a silver dukach pendant, etc.

Hunia1 avaThe Carpathian region of Ukraine is represented by a bunch of curious and unusual folk garments, especially outerwear. One of them is called “hunia”, and its appearance is as odd as the name. Hunia is warm, hairy, and eye-catching. And this garment is exactly what a Hutsul (Ukrainian sub-ethnic group of people who live in the Carpathians) needs. By the way, hunia has returned into fashion recently and modern Ukrainian fashionistas are ready to spend a fortune to get one. Honestly, there’s no surprise there – such natural, warm, and charming outerwear deserves to be loved.