01 March 2012

Happy St David's Day: This post contains men in tight fitting trousers and a whole lot of buttons

Today is the 1st of March. No this blog has not turned into a daily calender, I just can't believe we are in March already, its crazy! Plus its only 305 long days till Christmas, so ladies it is now quite acceptable to start making your list, believe me I already have.
Apart from it being the legend that is Glenn Miller's birthday, it is also St David's Day. Saint David, pronounced Saint Dewi by the lovely Welshi's, is the patron saint of Wales. It is believed that he lived to be 100 years old and died in 589, so he was one tough cookie. There are a lot of legends around him and its hard to know which stories about him are true, blimey even in 589 it was a bit like Heat magazine.

His mother Saint Non was the niece of King Arthur and St David was at the heart of the welsh church in the 6th century. He was one of the early saints who helped spread Christianity among the Celctic tribes of Western Britain and in his lifetime he was a Celtic Monk, Bishop and  the Archbishop of  Wales. I hope he got to wear one of those pointy hats, very cool.

 David was a very gentle man and led a very frugal life, there wasn't a Jimmy Choo in site. Not that he would wear Jimmy Choo's, but I'm sure they would look hot with his monk costume. David travelled far on his missionariy journies through Wales where he established several churches and a monastry, where St David's Catherdral is now.

St David's Day Celebrations
So we have established that he was a nice guy who was tall and sweet, he would definitely be a big hit on Match.com. So how is the day celebrated? A lot of people wear either a daffodil or a leek, which are both symbols of Wales. I get the daffodil thing, but its a bit weird to walk around with a leek on you isn't it? Even John Galliano wouldn't do that.

It is celebrated all over Wales with special church services, readings, school celebrations and a huge parade. It's probably also celebrated with a drink down the pub with the lads or a shoe shopping trip with the girls, but the Daily Telegraph fails to mention that.

In Cardiff there is a huge annual parade through the city centre. It contains a huge dragon and many children cutely dressed up as a sunflower or in traditional costumes. Children particulary girls dress in the traditional Welsh costume.
Thankfully its not a dragon holding a leek and daffodil. Girls wear a petticoat, an overcoat made of Welsh flannel and a tall hat worn over a frilled bonnet. Boys wear a white shirt, a Welsh flannel waistcoat, black trousers, long wool socks and black shoes. Whilst in there costumes they dance, sing Welsh folk songs and recite Welsh poems. Now you try doing all that with a bonnet on. So this started me looking at other traditional costumes and I thought you could all do with widening your knowledge, oh and having a good laugh.

First off we will start with the British one. Well us English have to be different don't we and we have no official national dress. There are a wide variety of costumes that derive from ceremonies to traditional costumes worn by morris dancers and Royal employees. An English National Costume group are trying to make England's national dress be the clothes worn by the Anglo-Saxons in the 7th Century. Yeah, I can really see that happening, because a helmet and a long dress for men is far more appealing then a hoodie and adidas trainers.

The Pearly Kings were the leaders of the Victorian street sellers and wore pearl buttons on their hats as a sign of authority and later began to wear clothes all covered in buttons. So dressing up as a Pearly King or Queen is popular at events.

BeefeaterThe Beefeater costume which always reminds me of the Royal Mail and the Yeomen of the Guard uniform are what thought to be closest to our national costume, well you've gotta love a man in uniform. They are very important because they look after old Queen Lizzie and her jewels.

The Dutch costume is a lot like the Welsh one really, except from the leek. The woman's traditional costume consists of a long skirt, a blouse with an apron and a shawl with a hat, varying according to area. There are no clogs in sight though sadly.

Now I'm sure all you girls and boys are getting excited at the sight of a hunky spanish tanned and toned man in tight trousers. The men wear a short jacket usually heavily decorated with highwaisted pants (hopefully tight), a white shirt, a coloured waistband and the famous wide brimmed hat known as the sombrero de alanche.

Women's traditional costumes are the sexy flamenco dresses known as the Trajes de faraleas. Oh those men that decided that are very clever. They are always brightly coloured with many layers of ruffles in the skirt and sleeves that swish around when they walk. The dress is always bold and colourful and is accessoried with matching accesories, large earrings, hair combs and flowers.

Basically just think of the Sound of Music and you've kinda got the picture. In earlier centuries a 'tracht' costume identified a person belonging to a particular group in terms of social and legal status. The costume for men are Lederhosen's, which are leather breeches that are either short or knee length. Boys have lederhosen's with suspenders/braces. There not all made out of curtains though.

A women's attire called the dirndl is a close fitting bodice combined with an apron, which is sometimes worn with a cotton and lace blouse. It also can feature sleeves and a high neck. Hats are often very elaborate and are worn in festive occassions. Nothing like Phillip Tracey's though, no feathers or butterflies are to be seen.

I'm sure you all recognise the Japanese national costume, the kimono.The look always seems to be an elegant lady with a silky kimono on. You never see a girl with spots all over her face and baked beans spilt down her kimono do you. It is rarely worn now apart from on special occassions, but it has been incorporated into fashion. It is a symbol of refinement, sophistication and taste.

There are many types of kimono and many ways of wearing it. Young, unmarried women wear bright, gaudy ones with sleeves reaching to their ankles. This shows they are old enough to marry, but are still eligible and looking for a man. I can hardly see how a gaudy kimono that shows no cleveage will get you the likes of Bradley Cooper.

Married women wear black or paler ones to occasions like weddings. Black is thought of as a joyful colour as it shows off the bride's bright colours. Its not like here when a girl wears a black dress to a wedding if she doesn't like the slimy groom that once tried to feel her up and eats all the cake. It has colourful embroidery on and happy motifs around the base. A kimono can be very hard to put on especilally by yourself and you can actually take a course at a kimono school. Thank god for Youtube and e-how videos.

The traditional costume is not worn often
now, but it is still sometimes worn for weddings and festivals. The dress is colourful and richly embroided and features lace and sashes with puffed sleeves and boots or embroidered shoes. Of course there are now more fun and skimpier designs, but they still retain the key features of the costume. You'll be seeing it in Ann Summers next.

So there we go from Lederhosens to Beefeaters, all across the world there are national costumes. What's your favourite? What's your national costume where you live? I think I'll just stick to heels and spotty dresses thanks very much. I'm off to flirt with a Yeomen of the Guard.

Second Hand Rose


  1. Fun post, darling!

    Love these costumes!


  2. Oh my! How to choose just one? :) I love this post. The Dutch girl's hat is hysterical to me. So pointy!
    "Just think of the Sound of Music"... ha ha!

  3. Love the pearly kings - I remember them when I visited the UK as a child in the 70s.
    I am emailing you the vintage knitting patterns from work, so the email contact will be different - just so you don't spam it! deb


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