Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Be Sure to Wear a Flower in Your Hair

It's interesting to see what is considered the "traditional costume" in Latvia. In Guatemala, traditional costumes abounded in everyday use, and they were quite striking to foreign eyes. In Latvia, however, they all just dress like Europeans (i.e., they dress like Americans with everything a size smaller and pockets in unusual places). So at some point they had to pick what moment in history, pre-European-sartorial-unification, was officially their folk costume for events like the Song Festival. Maybe Latvian women have been wearing shirts and vests and skirts like these for a thousand years. But I doubt it. The men's costumes, in particular, appear to be slightly funky 19th-century suits. The women's costumes are marked by a few important factors:

Some wear an elaborate shawl or cloak, with a special shield-like pin either holding the shawl on, although it's a bit hot for that now.

Many wear special colorful patterned woven belts.

But they all, without exception, get to wear something fun on their heads.

The options include the embroidered headband-hat seen in the previous post; a more daring crown-like hat (more pictures coming soon); and, perhaps most popularly, a wreath of flowers, of which three variations are visible above. More on flowers later, too.

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