Traditional Costume – Marken

This post will be about the traditional costume of Marken. Marken is a small town on what used to be an island in the inland sea the ‘Zuiderzee’. Around 1930, the ‘Afsluitdijk’ was built, a very large dike (or levee), which closed off the entire Zuiderzee from the North sea, making it into two very large inland lakes now called the ‘IJsselmeer’ and the ‘Markermeer’. This had a large impact also on the village of Marken, as the people lived off the sea. In the 1950s, the island was connected to the mainland with another dike  officially making Marken a peninsula.

A map of the Markermeer and IJsselmeer, including Marken.

Because it was an island for so long, the costume of Marken is quite different from many other traditional costumes in the Netherlands. It is, for instance, the only costume with a corset-like bodice.

The costume exists of a colorful striped underskirt and a dark over-skirt, a blue apron with a checkered top, a shirt with either dark blue (winter) or striped sleeves, an embroidered corset, and a red over-jacket with a square of flowered fabric pinned on. All together, the costume of Marken is very bright and colorful. The following are some images to get an idea of how the costume is built up.

This is the shirt worn under the corset and jacket. Only the sleeves show, so only these were made in the more expensive striped fabric.

Over this shirt, a corset, or bodice was worn. I always think it’s a shame that you can only see a hint of it between the skirt and the jacket, because they’re usually very beautiful.

This dressform is not wearing the overskirt or the jacket, so you can see the corset.

A shorter corset. This one has darker colors and purple, so is worn in mourning.

The red jacket, which is blue at the back, is worn over the shirt and corset.

This was called a ‘bouw’, and was pinned on the center of the jacket. It was always made of flowered cotton.

A drawing including the over-skirt, bouw, apron and the headwear.

Girls wore almost the same as their mothers, boys were also in skirts until a certain age. They could be distinguished from the girls as they wore a checkered instead of a flowered ‘bouw’, and a slightly different hat.

Little boys, 1943

The Marken costume has many variations, most noticeably those for weddings and Pentecost. These are some beautiful pictures of variations of the costume.

A bride costume, for the afternoon church service.

A bride, in the morning.

Pentecost costume

Daily wear for heavy mourning in summer.

The costume also has a very distinctive traditional hairstyle. A large part of the hair is brought forward and cut into bangs, and two large pieces are kept long at the sides to fall down in curls. The back is shaved off and is hidden below the hat. Obviously, this hairstyle only works if you wear the traditional head wear. This is what it looks like without the headdress.

Today, only 6 women still wear the costume and all of them are over 90 years old, which means that the costume will disappear from daily life very soon. The people on Marken still wear the costume on special occasions though, the most noticeable being Koninginnendag (the day when the Dutch celebrate the birthday of the queen), where they dress up in the orange version of the costume. (as orange is the color of our royal house)

The marching-band on Koninginnendag

A little girl on Koninginnendag

5 thoughts on “Traditional Costume – Marken

  1. Pingback: Traditional Costume – Marken | Atelier Nostalgia

  2. The Klederdracht of Marken is indeed intricate, bright and colorful, so much so that I could imagine many outsiders thinking the out of mourning costume is too bright, colorful and gaudy for them. I was also going to say that Duyvetter’s bridal costume drawings are of costumes worn a century apart even though they have the same cut and silhouette, which means that the traditional dress did not change much in the 19th century. I understand that they were a poor, isolated fishing island for such a long time so they didn’t have the resources to make changes to their traditional costume, but that means that the traditional dress of Marken from before 1932 is older than other than other local traditional dresses in The Netherlands. By the way, I think you should also do a post on Urk, which like Marken, was an isolated fishing island for a long time and also has an old form of traditional dress.

    • The bridal costume especially changed very little as it was so precious and complex. There were a number of outfits and at some point, the whole town was sharing a number of antiques as everything was only worn once. So that one stayed even more traditional than most. But yes, in the costume of Marken some of the earliest forms from the 17th century are still recognizable.

  3. I know that in many cultures brides wear the same dresses that had been in their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers also wore when they got married, dresses that are passed down through the family over generations. Was it like that in Marken just because Marken was a poor village and families owned so many precious and richly embroidered antique items of clothing and especially bridal costumes that were in pristine condition.

  4. I really wish there was info on the evolution of the odd Marken hairstyle for women: the stiffened bangs, the shaved back which must’ve been terribly cold much of the year, etc.

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