The Folk costumes of Romanian heritage, although fallen out of daily usage, are a part of the culture of Romania and they will never be forgotten. It is not rare at all to see the Romanian dress, in all its variety, for it has become a ceremonial vestment. They are still largely used on special occasions and ethnographic or folk events.

The variety of the traditional costume is astonishing. It is classified in seven traditional regions, extending even outside the Romanian border. Each of these regions has other ethnographic subdivisions that can count up to 120.

The seven traditional regions are: the renowned Transylvania, the Western Plains subdivided into Lower Mures Plain, Criș Plain (the three Criș rivers in Crișana region) and the Oaș Country. Under the Western Plains there is Banat and further south is Wallachia, which include Oltenia and Muntenia. The region of the Lower Danube includes the Baragan, Dobruja and southern Moldavia subdivisions. The north-eastern region, Moldavia, has three ethnographic zones: Bessarabia, Bucovina and Transnistria. The last region is the Balkan Peninsula, which is subdivided into four outer areas, bearing names of the ethnic groups native to the Balkans: Istro-Romanians in Croatia, Aromanians in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia and Megleno-Romanians in Greece and Macedonia.

The men’s clothing consists of a white shirt, white trousers called ițari or cioareci, which are thicker than the ițari, a hat, a belt, waistcoat and/or overcoat, named suman. The materials used are hemp, linen and woolen fabrics. The differences between regions are marked by the length of the shirt, the cut of the trousers, the shape of the hat and the types of embroidery and decoration. The hats come in a variety of materials such as sheepskin, felt or straw. There are four types of fur hats in Romania: the high conical cap, worn in Moldavia, Muntenia, Oltenia and Banat, the round low cap in Maramures, named cușmă, the simple “skull” cap, also found in Maramures and Oas, and the cylindrical low fur cap, worn by shepherds in Oltenia, Muntenia, and also in the Lower Danube regions and Maramures.

The women’s costume comprises three main elements: ie, fota, poale and marama. Ie is a typical Romanian pleated shirt that has decorations displayed in three parts on the chest and on both arms. Each blouse is unique and tells a story about its regions, all through the embroidery and colors used. The ie has been in a constant trend in the past years and a lot of fashion designers took their inspiration from the Romanian blouse. Fotă is a woolen wrap-around skirt that displays splendid adornments. Each of the ethnographic regions has a name for this skirt, ranging from the Transylvanian zadie to the Muntenian pestelca or Moldavian catrinta. Under this wrap-around, women wear a white underskirt, called poale. The southern the area, the more and more elaborated the decorations on the fota. Head coverings are also an important garment, especially for married women. Marama, or basma, is mostly worn in the southern regions of Moldavia and Transylvania.

Common for both men and women were the opinci, the oldest type of footwear in the Eastern Europe. These peasant sandals are made of cow, ox or pig leather and are always worn with woolen socks.

Even though most people wear modern clothes today, villages throughout Romania still wear traditional pieces in their daily lives. Probably the most known region for this practice is the Oas Country, a place where people have always kept traditions alive. The uniqueness of the Oas traditional costume lies in the colors and motives used. Men wear a hat adorned with a myriad of beads, a straita, a colorful bag decorated with geometrical or vegetal motives, large trousers in the summer and tight trousers and black/white sheepskin coats in the winter. Women wear richly colored and embroidered shirts, the wrap-skirt is either yellow or red, embroidered with flowers. A distinct trend among the Oas women is hair plaiting and a bread wreath.

Romania is one of the few countries in the world where, in such modern days, people still wear the traditional costume not only for special occasions, but for a close and rooted relationship with culture and tradition.

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Stefania Tripe
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” ― Stephen King.

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