Traditional costume – Staphorst

The Dutch town of Staphorst is probably known best for its religious population and its folk costume. It has some of the youngest and most people still wearing folk costume daily, with around 500 women still wearing it in 2008.

The costume is known best for what is called ‘stipwerk’, or ‘dot-work’. Parts of the costume are made out of black fabric decorated by patterns of different coloured dots. The main variations in costume are of mourning/regular and sunday/workday, with special costumes for children.

Three women from Staphorst in their Sunday church clothes, the left most is out of mourning, the middle one in light mourning and the right most in heavy mourning.


The back, here you can see the pleated shawls.


Mourning is expressed with the colours, as in most Dutch costume red is for out of mourning, blue and purple for light mourning and black for heavy mourning. The daily wear differs mostly with regards to the headwear, women wear simple dotted caps on work days.

A photo from the sixties of the daily wear out of mourning.


The typical dotted patterns were often made by the women themselves, and created with the heads of nails and fabric paint. You’d need to stay out of the rain, because they’re not very water resistant!


Typical fabric, this one would be for out of mourning.


Mourning fabric


A work in progress. You can see he’s holding a cork with a nail in it to make the dots.


Of course, large patterns could also be made with these blocks.


The costume exists of black stockings and shoes, an under-skirt, a dark blue pleated skirt of sturdy fabric (black for heavy mourning), a black shirt, a black apron with a border at the top (flowers or checkered), a ‘kraplap’, a pleated shawl and the headwear.


An under-skirt, worn as a petticoat.

A Sunday-skirt. The front is made out of different fabric, which didn’t matter because the apron would cover it.


Black shirt

Kraplap, worn over the shirt. This one is for light mourning.

Kraplap for out of mourning

This would be pleated in a specific way and worn as a shawl (Mourning)

Out of mourning, the shawl was red.



One thought on “Traditional costume – Staphorst

  1. I can think of three ways that the local traditional dress of Staphorst-Rouveen changed in the twentieth century:
    1. Stipwerk (the stamps with the nails) was invented in 1930. I learned this in Thijs Adriaans’ video series Community Dressing. Before stipwerk was invented the kraplapen and the day caps were made of floral printed cotton. The cotton prints were also much smaller and not as bright is the mid twentieth century floral kraplapen (top photo). By the 1980’s stipwerk was universal for the day caps but floral printed kraplapen were more common than stipwerk kraplapen.
    2.Bonnets became more heart shaped in profile. At the beginning of the twentieth century the caps had a more circular profile. The oorijzer worn with the neat wear (opknapdracht) and Sunday church wear (zondagskerkdracht) also fit closer to the head. The kanten toefmuts formed a circular frame around the face and was sometimes worn with a straw hat decorated with blue ribbon. That hat was worn from around 1900 to around 1930.
    3. Blue knitted cardigans became part of the local traditional dress in the mid twentieth century, maybe as late as the 1970’s. I know that Coco Chanel popularized the cardigan in the 1920’s and many items of regional dress become adopted at least a few decades after they come into urban fashion. For example, the local traditional dress of mid twentieth century Bunschoten-Spakenburg includes a coiffure which resembles the fashionable coiffures in the 1900’s, yet that coiffure was not worn in Bunschoten-Spakenburg until the 1940’s. Do you know when the blue cardigans became part of the Staphorster klederdracht?

    I also have some questions about the Staphorster klederdracht. Why did the villagers begin to stop wearing klederdracht and adopt urban fashion when they did? I know that in 1984 all the women and girls there were still wearing klederdracht all day every day (Costumes of Holland, Constance Nieuwhoff) but by 2007 the klederdracht was clearly beginning to die out, with nobody under 37 wearing it on a daily basis (Berthi Smith-Sanders). It is interesting that they were wearing klederdracht when most people were no longer living their entire lives in the same small village, but the younger inhabitants today now wear urban fashion. Could it have been the Information Age?

    I have noticed that many mothers who wore klederdracht all day every day (for example in Staphorst-Rouveen in the 1990’s and 2000’s) dressed their young children in urban fashion. Did they dress their children differently from how they dressed because they knew that their children would wear urban fashion when they grew up?

    I know that the Staphorster klederdracht survived well into the age of synthetics (for example, polyester and nylon) and I wonder if synthetics were ever incorporated into the Staphorster klederdracht. I know that many traditional communities that dress conservatively, like the Hasidic Jews and the Amish, mostly wear synthetic fabrics today.

    I am using the term “urban fashion” to refer to the opposite of klederdracht, for example, t-shirts and denim.

    Lots of Love from Carolyn Cohen Campbell

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