Traditional Normandy Costumes
Normandy is part of France but has maintained a distinct and vibrant culture. The people of Normandy traditionally wore various costumes and dresses which were unique to the region. Although the people of Normandy have now become more integrated with French society, traditional Normandy costumes can still be seen at cultural events and pageants in which the rich traditions of the region are celebrated.
This section provides vintage photographs and illustrations showing the traditional costumes of the people of Normandy.
This photograph shows a young woman wearing traditional Normandy costume. Note the huge headdress and flowing ribbons. This is not the kind of clothing that women would have worn every day; the head gear and ribbons would have been too impractical and expensive. Normandy women would have worn this costume at weddings, country fairs, and other special occasions. The photograph was taken in 1864 and offers a great glimpse at what a Normandy girl would have looked like in her finery.
Here is another illustration of a traditional Normandy costume for women, This drawing is from the 1600s and so much earlier than the image immediately above. Looking at the two illustrations together we can see the evolution of the fashion. In this drawing the woman is wearing a very long skirt, and a long dress that goes over the skirt and undergarments. The dress is so long that she has to hold part of the hem in her hand so as not to trip. She is wearing high heels and does not have a head covering. This type of dress is what a woman in Normandy belonging to the middle class would have worn on a daily basis such as to go to the market.
This photograph from the late 1800s shows a group of Normandy people consisting of one man, a few women, and a child, existing what looks like a Church. It has always been customary to dress up when going to church so we can assume that what they are wearing is their Sunday finest. This photo offers a nice view of daily life in Normandy around 1898.
This drawing of a peasant girl in traditional dress shows what a working woman would have worn traditionally. Her forearms are bare to make it easier to work and to carry things. Her dress is more practical than the costumes shown above, but nevertheless she too is wearing a very long skirt for the sake of modesty. It must have been difficult to keep clean with all the mud and dirt to be found on the village streets and in the farm yard. The woman is carrying a large pot full of water that she has filled at the well. The weight of the pot is ingenuously counter balanced by a strap that allows her to balance the weight on one shoulder and then distribute it to the other by pulling on the rope.
This detail from a painting illustrating daily life in Normandy shows a number of men and women walking through the streets of a town. The women are wearing the traditional long skirts. You can make out one of the men wearing a black suit and tall hat.
A farm girl riding a donkey. She is wearing old fashioned clothes typical of the region.
A pretty Normandy girl wearing a hooded cloak for the cooler winter weather. Note the elaborate fringe on the hood and front of her coat.
A drawing from the late 1800s showing a group of Normandy peasants at work on a pier. The men are wearing pants, sweaters and a beret. The women are wearing the typical traditional long skirts with a head covering and a shawl.
We hope that you have enjoyed this little fashion show of traditional costumes from the Normandy region.