|Traditional Bavarian tracht.|
And women are no exception.
I can't exactly walk around in a Jane Austen or Civil War dress like I know some hopelessly romantic teenagers do. I have tried it. And wearing a period costume in public really is quite conspicuous. It looks either crazy or Amish, which is not what I want to say with my clothes. As much as I dream of being Elizabeth Bennett or Scarlett O'Hara, I am not.
I have a book called, "Your Clothes Say It For You" by a Protestant woman which discusses the topic of why women should wear dresses and skirts based on the Bible. This is a good start. But clothes go beyond showing someone is a woman. Despite being modest, the denim-skirt-homeschool-mom look does not cover it all. Dress should be complex and interesting. It can define where a woman lives and where she comes from, her situation or vocation, and even give a clue as to her temperament.
My husband has German relatives way back and so he likes to wear a trachten jacket to represent his heritage. He bought me a beautiful dirndl to wear for Christmas one year that I have since worn every Christmas that I am not pregnant. What does this say about me? My dirndl tells others that my family is German and we love tradition. It also tells of modesty and femininity! All things I am proud to represent.
|Ethnic Slovak costumes often include|
beautiful (and laborious) embroidery.
I have attended the Pittsburgh Folk Festival for years. It is a beautiful display of ethnicity. People from Pittsburgh are very loyal to their cultural heritage. My own great-grandparents did not wish my grandparents to marry because one was Slovak and the other Polish. This was a grave matter in their families and in their parishes. Even today, the Catholic parishes in Pittsburgh are divided by nationality, built by the immigrants of that country and named after their national saint or devotion.
I know members of a Slovak club and a German club whose groups perform at the folk festival. Folk dancing is nothing like modern dancing and much more than simple waltzing. Many traditional dances involve polkas, clapping, marches and circle dancing. The Germans do many Plattle dances where the men slap themselves to the music while the women twirl with their full bell skirts. I grew up taking Irish dancing lessons which is different altogether from German or Slovak dancing, but the jigs and reels require one to be very straight and the footwork is incredibly complicated. The dances represent the people as well as the costumes do. It is so right to represent ethnicity as well as femininity with dress.
It might seem that most countries today- especially a young one like America- are left with sadly
|The hat ladies of Charleston represent the beauty and|
warm elegance that distinguishes the South.
I am happy to assure you that there is a more civilized America underneath! It takes less digging than one would expect to find beautifully distinctive places with natural attractions and native industries. But this is just part of what draws people to certain states. There is a unique feel that is sometimes represented in dress. Kentucky Derby hats are a good example! It is very interesting to read about some of these lovely places in Victoria or Southern Lady magazine or- even better- to visit them!
Civil War reenacting is another place to find something beautiful and American and meet people who are proud to represent their heritage. I have friends who have incredible stories to tell about the old South over black coffee, fiddles and open fires.
Perhaps a Scarlett O'Hara dress is not as far removed from reality as I thought?
What do your clothes say about you?