modern costumes


There are several types of modern costume, worn from the 1950s by:

  • girls on St David’s day
  • Welsh folk dancers
  • people at Victorian days, pageants, historical tableau, women’s groups events, carnivals
  • musicians, especially harpers and harpists
  • members of Welsh groups in America and other countries
  • people participating in marketing events.

Modern costumes are based on four main elements of the traditional Welsh costume

  • A Welsh hat (occasionally an old one, but more often one made of felt or cardboard covered in black fabric) and/or a white cotton cap
  • A shawl
  • A long, brightly coloured skirt
  • Welsh Folk Dance groups often wear a gown based on surviving examples and it is now possible to purchase versions of these for girls to wear on St David’s day.

It is likely that most modern costume is derived from the costumes developed for folk dancing, particularly those produced for the Llangollen International Festival which began in 1947.

Evidence for costumes worn by girls on St David’s day dates back only as far as about 1910. It is likely that they were either made of old fabrics by their relatives, or mass produced for special groups. It is now possible to purchase complete Welsh costumes for children in supermarkets and elsewhere, some made by Welsh companies.  All known Welsh hats worn by children are made of felt (some apparently made in the far east) or cardboard (unless they wore an old adults hat).

Although Welsh dance groups have often made a great effort to reproduce 19th century Welsh costumes, the fabrics are unlikely to be quite as heavy as the originals (partly to make them easier to dance in, and wash); and the colours are often plainer and brighter. One dance group had a set of felt Welsh hats made especially for them.

Costumes worn by adults at various events tend to be a mixture of modern costume in Victorian style, normally a high necked blouse and long plain skirt, with a paisley shawl and a tall hat, either an old one, or one made of cardboard and covered in fabric. Modern costumes tend to include lace which was rarely worn in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Tea party in Capel Rehoboth Delta Pensylvania, 2002