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Traditional Welsh Costume

Ms. C. Stevens of the Museum of Welsh Life, (to be found at St. Fagans, near Cardiff) contributes the following:

"The popular image of Welsh "national" dress, of a woman in a red cloak and tall black hat, is one which has developed as a result of various influences which arose in the nineteenth century.

The costume regarded as national dress is based on clothing worn by Welsh countrywomen during the early nineteenth century, namely a striped flannel petticoat, worn under a flannel open-fronted bedgown, with an apron, shawl and kerchief or cap. The hats generally worn were the same as hats worn by men at the period. The tall "chimney" hat did not appear until the late 1840's and seems to be based on an amalgamation of men's top hats and a form of high hat worn during the 1790 - 1820 period in country areas.

Lady Llanover, the wife of Benjamin Hall III, MP (Big Ben), was very influential in encouraging the wearing of "national dress", both in her own home and at eisteddfodau. She considered it important to encourage the use of the Welsh language and the wearing of an identifiable Welsh costume. She succeeded in her aim mainly because people felt that their national identity was under threat and the wearing of a national costume was one way to declare that identity.

 A further influence was the work of artists producing prints for the rising tourist trade, which had the effect of popularising the idea of a Welsh costume, and later the work of photographers who produced postcards in their thousands, contributing to the stereotyping of one style of costume, as opposed to the various styles which were worn earlier in the century."

 In her list for further reading, Ms. Stevens mentions:

and we might add: To Data Wales Index Page