Dutch Dress

Today, Dutch people wear modern clothes in keeping with the rest of Europe, and indeed, most of the world. Jeans and t-shirts, dresses and skirts, casual and smart pants .... all feature in the typical Dutch wardrobe today.  The general attitude is that people prefer more subtle tastes in fashion; they prefer clothes that are casual yet fairly conservative, and those that are not too loud or brash and that are not pretentious.

In the past, each part of the country had its own type of traditional clothing. This means that there is no one particular national outfit for the whole of the Netherlands, and instead there are several different outfits that are referred to as the national costume. There were some elements in common between the costumes, as well as differences, some of which would have been difficult to notice for someone from outside of the country.

Nowadays, the Dutch national dress is only really worn on some special occasions and at heritage celebrations and festivals.  Some parts of traditional outfits may still be worn in some parts of the country, in particular rural and countryside areas, by members of the older generations. Some people may choose to don a traditional costume when they get married.


Perhaps the most well known feature of all Dutch traditional costumes is the clogs. Worn on the feet, these wooden shoes came into existence as a means of protecting the feet when people were working outdoors. Regular people could not usually afford leather shoes, and as clogs were hard wearing and long lasting they were ideal for many people. They were often worn with several pairs of thick socks to make walking easier and more comfortable. The particular style of clog was subject to regional variations. An Amsterdam museum showcases the various types of clogs from the different areas.


Hats were also an integral part of outfits, and these again varied in their design between the different parts of the country.  Often referred to today as a Dutch bonnet, these hats are usually made from white cotton or lace, depending on the fortunes of the family, and often had triangular shaped wings at the sides. 

Outfit for Women

The basic outfit for females was a blouse and a long skirt, plus an apron. Shawls, scarves, and other decorative shoulder items were often worn. Skirts were often worn with several layers of petticoats, especially in the colder weather conditions and parts of the country. On Sundays and other special days, there was a smarter version of the outfit, which was often accompanied with a woman’s best jewellery and lace items. The greatest variations were usually seen in the female’s outfits, and there was greater scope for creativity.     

Outfit for Men

The basic outfit for men was wide trousers, made from wool, with shiny silver buttons. A shirt, jacket and hat were also worn. 

Looking at some different particular areas, the people from the northern province of Freisland wore fairly beautiful and patterned dress, indicative of their sense of pride in their hometown. Richer females wore a dress with a fitted bodice and a layered long shirt part. Lace details were common on shawls, sleeves and aprons. A gold helmet was worn underneath the frilly white cap.

Difference in Dutch Dress

The costume in Middleburg, in the southern province of Zeeland, was somewhat simpler, yet equally as colourful. Women wore a plain black skirt and blouse, with the colour coming from the highly colourful and striped aprons. A white collar was in sharp ad smart contrast to the black blouse. The cap was fitted, sitting snugly on the head.

In Walcheron, the design was even simpler, with a black skirt and blouse accompanied by a blue and white apron. The aprons were either checked or striped. The hat was a looser fit, and flowed down to the shoulders, and a colourful neck decoration added a splash of vibrant colour to the outfit. 

In the northern area of the Isle of Marken, females wore wonderfully colourful outfits, with a striking multi-coloured bolero. The skirts were shorter than in other areas, and rather than being plain white, there were often floral decorative features on the hats.

In the nearby area of Volendam, however, the main colour was black, with large colourful stripes adding intense flashes of colour. The hat was tall and peaked.      

In the area of Staphorst there are some people who still wear their traditional costume today. Girls are taught dress making skills in school, in order to be able to continue making the outfits. The shirt and skirt is dark, with a flowery hat and red scarf. Males wear suspenders. The outfits for both males and females are fairly conservative, in keeping with the deeply religious community values.

There are various museums around the country that have exhibitions of the various regional traditional clothes and costumes.