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Home / Things to do / Culture and Events / Traditional Costume
Traditional Costume

Cretan traditional costume was of the most elegant and most complicated form of clothing and was divided into everyday and festive clothing. While in other regions traditional clothing was one of the first things to be replaced by western clothing – the so called "frágkika roúha" – in Crete traditional clothing is worn up until today, be it only by men and mainly in west-Crete. Women have long since stopped wearing traditional clothing.

Men's clothing
Everyday men's clothing was usually black: a black "vráka" (trousers), a shirt and a black head cover with dangling fringes. In the region of Malia men used to wear a sort of apron over their vráka, wrapped around their waist: the "brospodiá".

The festive vráka or "salvári" was made of thick blue felt and was worn with a white shirt, over which the "meidáni" and the "yeléki" were worn (the sleeveless jacket and the waistcoat). A blue or red coloured sash of 8metres long, tied around the waist, finished it off with a silver dagger stuck through it. A silver chain with on its end a pocket watch ("kioustéki") was hung around the neck. The Cretan boots – the "stivánia" – were sturdy knee boots; black for every day and white for festive occasions. Head cover would be a black netted turban, wrapped around the head with dangling fringes.

In the early 20th century this dress code was complemented with European clothing, while in the 1960s the original vráka was replaced by the so-called ‘kilóta’, baggy breeches that were worn inside the boots, combined with a black shirt. The head cover continued to be the fringed turban.

Women's clothing
Women’s costume tended to vary according to region and period. A basic garment was long white cotton underpants, covered with a "sártsa", a demi-frock on the backside and an apron on the front. A short woolen sleeveless jacket, usually dark blue or black and sometimes decorated with gold, was worn over a wide-sleeved white blouse.

The head cover usually involved a square kerchief, the "dzebéri": black for widows and older women and brownish or white for younger women and girls; it could be tied in various ways. Their boots were similar to the male "stivánia", only shorter.

Nowadays the only chance to see traditional clothing is probably at folklore festivals or organized Cretan dance evenings. These can actually be very nice, giving you an idea of the beautiful Cretan traditional garments.