Icelandic National Costumes

Salka Publishing Reykjavik


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This book shows examples of Icelandic women's formal costume from the first half of the 20th century. Known as national costume, these outfits are derived from traditional Icelandic dress, and are still worn today on special occasions.

The upphlutur or bodice costume comprises a long black skirt, and a sleeveless bodice ornamented with silver filigree and laced together with a silver chain. This is worn over a blouse (usually white, sometimes coloured), and an apron of Icelandic wool, generally striped or chequered. A belt completes the costume; either black with silver ornaments, or a belt of silver links.

The peysuföt or jacket costume comprises a long black skirt worn with a long-sleeved black jacket, which is clasped together at the front over a white stomacher (embroidered cloth). A silk scarf is tied in a bow around the neck and pinned with a silver brooch. A belt is sometimes worn with the costume.

Both upphlutur and peysuföt costumes are worn with a tasselled cap, which may be made of velvet, or a knitted woollen cap. On the tassel is a tubular silver ornament.

Costume ornament may be gold instead of silver.

The skautbúningur is a richly-embroidered costume worn for special occasions, even as a wedding dress. It comprises a fitted long-sleeved black jacket and long skirt, with embroidery on the breast, cuffs and around the hem of the skirt. The costume is worn with a silver or gold belt, and a tall headdress (faldur) with veil.

A simpler version of this costume is the kyrtill (kyrtle), usually white or blue. It is worn with the tall headdress.

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