Traditional Costume – Arnemuiden

Arnemuiden is a town in the province of Zeeland, in the very South-West of the Netherlands. Most traditional costumes from this part of the country are known best for their elaborate lace headdresses, and the same holds for Arnemuiden. It is also one of the few places where the costume is still worn daily by a group of women.

Girls in the sunday costume for a special occasion

The costume consists of a black shirt, a colorful ‘beuk’, which is basically a shirt without sides or sleeves, a shawl-like garment of the same fabric, a white under-skirt, a black over-skirt and an apron (either black for Sunday or white/black patterned for work days). The headdress consists of a metal spiral piece of jewelry, a lace under-cap, a small blue cap and a large lace over-cap. The woman almost always wore necklaces made out of red coral and gold. Here are some pictures of the different parts of the costume:

Beuk for sundays

The shawl with the beuk. This would be worn around the shoulders, the front points tucked into the skirt.

A woman wearing the work costume, with the patterned apron and without the large lace cap.

The jewelry worn with the lace cap. They’re called ‘oorijzers’, which means ‘ear irons’.

You can see both the under-cap and the large over-cap. She’s also wearing the oorijzers. The hair is rolled over a hairrat in the front to give it its shape.

The blue cap worn between the under and over cap.

A lace over-cap

A traditional necklace of red coral. The more strings and gold, the richer the woman wearing it.

A group of school girls in 1944

A group of women who still wear the costume daily. (Together with the people who made a book about them)

9 thoughts on “Traditional Costume – Arnemuiden

  1. I found a photograph of a woman wearing that dress at Ellis Island, New York, United States of America around 1905-1910. In the photograph the front of her hair is rolled up in a hair rat and she is wearing a shell shaped bonnet, which means that she is protestant. Catholic women from Arnemuiden wear square shaped bonnets. I think that the young woman on the postcard looks very sweet and pretty. My father made a joke with me that the Protestant women wear those hats to cover their giant ears. Also, is a Beuk a Kraplap?

    • I think I know the picture, it’s very striking! The Ellis Island pictures always make me so curious about the stories behind the people. A beuk is the same as a kraplap, yes. Different regions/times use different terms for it, there’s also kroplap, onderst, neerstik and borstlap. Beuk is typical for Zeeland, Onderst for Friesland, Kraplap seems to be more the middle of the country (Staphorst, Spakenburg). I believe kroplap, neerstik and borstlap are older terms.

    • Also, according to Jan Duyvetter’s illustrations as well as photographs I have seen, the Protestant shell shaped bonnet gradually got larger and stiffer between 1880 and 1930. In 1880, the bonnet was more like a soft veil. In the 1900’s, when the Ellis Island photo was taken, the bonnet was stiffer and had more lace than in the 1880’s but not as large and stiff as it would be in 1930, when it achieved its current form. I think that its is interesting that traditional regional dress would seem so timeless yet in reality it keeps actively changing until it begins to disappear from daily life.

      • It really is just as changeable as ‘regular’ fashion! I think our idea from the timelessness comes from the fact that when new wearers stop (so young girls), it fossalizes. In the Netherlands you still have women wearing traditional dress, but the youngest are probably over 50 and will keep wearing things in exactly the same way. Because it is unchangeable for a bit before dying out that’s what we tend to remember as ‘the true way’. And when preserving tradition that’s what people go back to as being ‘right’. But fashion is never an unchangeable thing when it’s alive 🙂

  2. I only discovered this recently, but if you look carefully, you can actually see some differences in the Protestant dress of Zuid-Beveland and the dress of Arnemuiden. Previously I thought that the dress of Zuid-Beveland was that of Arnemuiden. However, I notice that the oorijzers are more characteristic of those of Walcheren and the over caps are different types, with those of Arnemuiden being cornets and those of Zuid-Beveland (both Catholic and Protestant) being the hul type. Also, I believe that when a traditional costume begins to disappear from daily life, the first people to switch over to modern clothes are adolescents. Soon afterward many young adults switch over and children switch over when they begin to make their own clothing decisions. Do you know when the costume began to disappear from daily life in Arnemuiden?

    • There iare slight differences yes. Arnemuiden is a little town on the island of Walcheren, so it makes sense they are more like this. Arnemuiden was also a little specific for Walcheren, as it was a relatively poor fishing town. I’m not entirely sure when it started to disapear, but I would guess in the 1950’s, as that was the time a lot of costume started disapearing. It would also make sense with the only wearers being 70+, as those would’ve been the ones dressed in costume as kids at that time, and the exceptions for sticking to the traditional clothes.

  3. It is quite unusual that they would have such elaborate lace bonnets given how poor they were. Those lace bonnets, according to Constance Nieuwhoff (Costumes of Holland/ Klederdrachten), are very laborious and costly to make. I also really enjoy reading your blog because I love historical fashion and I am particularly interested in the development of local traditional dress in Europe. By the way, I plan to visit many museums in the villages in The Netherlands that have their own local traditional dress soon.

    • Thank you, and I hope you enjoy all the lovely museums!
      In the case of Arnemuiden, many bonnets were made of eyelet lace, so relatively cheaper than most other bonnets in the country. And you have to imagine that in many cases, people wore their wealth, so a lace bonnet would really be an investment, taken care of carefully and handed down over the generations :).

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