I am feeling so flashy and colorful to write about the traditional clothing of the country which has given fashion and style to the rest of the world. It owes the notable fashion capitals of the lovely planet that rule the world of fashion with their historic elegance, aesthetic and grace. “la bella figura”, country of the well-dressed people, this is Italy; the land of the cultured and enlightened history. Today, known as the Italian Republic is the 5th most populous country in Europe, which was inhabited by the humans almost about 40,000 years ago.
Mycenaean Greeks are considered as the first prominent settlers who started to dwell along the coast of Sicily. Later, the islands of Sardinia were populated by the Phoenicians and then after few centuries in 753 BC, Italy’s today’s capital, “Rome” was set up by these moderate societies.
After this, a long, prosperous and glorious era of Italy was commenced as the nation got immense power and dominated the territories from Britain to the borders of Persia by establishing the great Roman Empire. Rome became the hub of the most progressive and advanced cultures of the then world and great respect for art and architecture was flourished. The same was continued even after the fall of the Roman Empire during the medieval times and the peninsula continuously absorbed the sparkling features of the practices of the different invaders. The amalgamation of the inherited customs with the imported ones ultimately gave birth to a solid and unique Italian heritage.
The Renaissance period is the landmark era of the Italian cultural history. Along with all other forms of arts and creativity, the clothing habits of Italians were equally bolstered. Dresses gained the importance and fashion was boosted. Other than Rome, many other cities like Venice, Milan, Florence, Naples and Vicenza became the center of textile and ornamental trade. Italian fashion designers became the most popular in the world for their elaborated skills in clothe making. During the last century, the country experienced the brightest age in its apparel history when the leading clothing brands like Armani, Brioni, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and many others were acknowledged world-wide for their fancy designing and quality of fabric.
Traditional dress of Italy is also a garnished garment with beauty and style. As it has been denoted earlier that appearance matter a lot to the Italians since ancient times. Traditional dresses for women in the central regions of the country were usually made with linen or with wool and those were mostly home-spun. The outfits for women were usually designed like skirts that mostly came in red and blue colors. Embroidered petticoats were also used by the Italian women. Sometimes, the Italian women adorned their hems of the skirts with bands of contrasting fabrics as well. In formal events and wedding ceremonies, the Italian women used an apron embellished with floral brocade. There was trend to wear fill sleeved blouses usually made with linen-wool mixed fabric.
In some parts of Italy, the women also wore bodice comprising of sleeves that usually tied in exposing significant portion of the blouse. The bodice was black or red velvet form fitting that usually cut low across the chest. The dress was usually accompanied by a lace shawl as an over garment.
Italian women enhanced their grace by wearing headdresses made with cotton and linen fibers that were folded around the head. In some parts of Italy, the custom of wearing such headdresses is still followed. Women also bedecked their headdresses with distinctive hairpins. The headdresses of the Italian brides were usually in blue and white colors that resembled like the traditional Asian headgears.
Women from Southern Italy were particularly known for phenomenal attires that were beautified with gorgeous embroidery and colors all over. Pleated silk shirt were the favorite costumes for the women of this region. They also wore vivid and high waist jackets and colorful aprons. Aprons were usually decorated with fantastic tapestry with brocades and floral patterns. Tight-fitted bodices made with silk-velvet fabrics were worn. They also used ribbons to beautify their hairstyle.
In the Italian men, traditionally breeches of wool and velveteen fabrics were very common that came in different shades. These breeches were worn instead of trousers and were having close and tight fittings. They usually reached to the knee and were fastened with colorful buttons. Over the shirts, the men usually wore waistcoat formed jackets made with velvet or wool. The bridegroom wore such waistcoat made with wool or rich silk along with purple pants in his wedding. Hats made with felt and brightly colored stockings were also common among the Italian men.
In the whole Italy, the traditional slippers typed shoes known as ciocia were very popular that were having certain distinctions in different regions according to the dialect of the locals who name it like chiochia, chioca or ciocero etc. In the traditional form, ciocie were made of large soles in leather and straps with which the leg was tied from the ankle to the knee. Feet were covered by a large napkin.
Women of Sicily and Sardinia were well-known for wearing the charming outfits normally embellished with glorious embroidery and magnificent patterns. These dresses are still worn by the folk performers in the folk parades and carnivals.
The traditional dress for the women of Sicily generally consisted of a white blouse with wide sleeves, often trimmed with lace, a simple black bodice, a kerchief, a full skirt usually in red or green, trimmed with ribbons, and a white apron. The Men of Sicily wore dresses similar to other parts of Italy like a white shirt, red bandanna, ribbon around the neck, waistcoat and long stockings.
Sardinia has tremendous variety of the traditional costumes for women. The traditional costumes were worn by every aged woman on special occasions and festive events.
Nowadays, many cultural processions and ceremonies are arranged for the tourist attraction in which the Sardinian people dress up the ancient preserved costumes to showcase their astounding and prodigious heritage. The unique feature about the traditional Sardinian clothing is the designing which was executed with individual pattern and skill by different clans. Sometimes the materials were dyed using natural plants and grasses as well. Sometimes the outfits included numerous head scarves and skirts of different colours one over the other.
Jewelry was important among Sardinian women of Italy and the traditional items included range of necklaces, medallions, rings, brooches, bracelets etc having sexual undertones, such as the mammilla shaped buttons, the little bells and the pendants. Many Sardinian costumes and ornaments are still made in their original traditional styles.
The Sardinian men, on the other hand, all dress the same. They wear a cap known as a “birritta,” as well as a doublet (close-fitting jacket) and on their legs a traditional hand-woven cuff made of unescorted wool.
Modern Italians wear western clothes both in formal and casual like Americans but they have elegantly preserved the traditional dress of Italy, which is a garnished garment with beauty and style. There are lots of cultural fairs, parades and events annually held in every part of Italy where, the traditional clothing is normally exhibited by the folk dancers and musicians to amuse the tourists and spectators.
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