Lithuanian national clothing is divided into pre-historic, historic and
folk. An approximate image of pre-historic attire has
been reconstructed based on remnants of clothing and various articles of
adornment found at archeological cites. Garments from
historic period have been collected into museums in Lithuania and other
countries, and are depicted in ancient engravings and
Lithuanian folk national costumes, those worn by the rural
population, are extremely varied and homespun. The patterns
are complex and the color combinations subtle. Lithuanian national costumes
are classified according to geographic region:
Samogitia, Highland, Kapsai, Dzukija, Zanavykija, Vilnius region and
Lithuania Minor. Though all Lithuanian national costumes
are similar in appearance, they also differ in the diversity of patterns,
color selection, different articles of clothing and method of
In ancient times these garments were worn daily, as
well as for visiting, holidays, weddings and other occasions. The
weave, patterns, colors and style of current Lithuanian national costumes
are adapted from models of old peasant garments.
Ancient Lithuanian national attire had certain characteristic
all pieces of clothing were made by the peasants from
homespun yarn, bleached and dyed mostly with plant dyes;
the weaving methods are traditional; the yarn varies in
thickness thus diversifying the weaving technique;
the motifs used in every article of clothing are greatly
the colors are extremely varied and contrasting, for
instance warm with cold;
the cut of the garments is unique and every piece is
finished differently: in overcast, crochet, with tassels or cord, etc.;
the garment fasteners are metal, leather, string or wood.
Women's national costumes have more diversity than those of men. They
incorporate more patterns, the colors are more
varied, the weave, style and method of wear are established by traditions.
Of utmost importance is that married and unmarried
women wear different head coverings. People dressed one way for a wedding
and another to go visiting or to church. National
garments have never been a uniform, they were used for festive occasions,
individual pieces were frequently changed creating new
combinations and method of adornment.
The coordination of separate pieces of attire was also
determined by certain esthetic rules: if one piece is very colorful, it is
combined with a quieter, plainer piece; if one piece is very colorful, it is
combined with a quieter, plainer piece; if one is darker in
color, the other is lighter; if one is from the cold color family, the other
is from the warm.
The basic pieces of a woman's national costume consist of: a
long patterned or striped skirt, an apron, a shirt (white with
embroidered sleeves, cuffs, shoulder tabs, front and collar, the amount of
embroidery different according to region where worn); a
bodice in a smaller pattern or striped to match the skirt; a head covering
and amber heads (though earlier other materials were used)
as neck ornaments. The legs are covered with patterned or stripped stockings
and shod with soft-sole leather, wooden or low-heeled
black shoes. The women of certain regions wore a long wide patterned sash
tied around the waist and left hanging on one side.
An adult married woman wears a wimple or a patterned,
checked (even white) kerchief. The heads of young girls are
adorned with crowns made of plaited narrow sashes. From the headdress hang
ribbons or sashes coordinated to the crown and
Men's national costumes are also homespun festive garments.
The basic pieces consist of: long striped, diagonally striped or
checked trousers onto whose lower portion darker stripes or patters have
been woven. The trouser legs are tapered and fastened at
the bottom or stuffed into socks. In certain areas of Lithuania men wore a
loose waist - length vest in others a long jacket sometimes
tied at the waist with a sash. A wide sash is also worn with the west, tied
around the waist and to one side with the ends hanging to
the knees. The shirt is made of thin white linen with long wide cuffed
sleeves and an inverted collar. The cuffs, collar and at times
the shoulder tabs are decorated with a narrow patterned sash or embroidery.
A pattern sash or checked scarf is tied under the collar.
The head covering is a wide brimmed straw hat. The socks are striped and
soft sole leather shoes are worn. In certain regions of
Lithuania men's attire is more colorful and patterned while in others more
subdued and darker.
Boys' national costumes are similar to men's but they
usually do not wear vests or jackets. Girls' garments are similar to
women's. Young girls wear short checked or patterned skirts and white aprons
embroidered with traditional motifs. The beds they
wear are smaller, plainer and they usually do not tie sashes around their
waists. Adolescent girls wear calf-length skirts. Girls wear
small crowns with ribbons hanging down their back or flower wreaths.