Traditional Swedish Folk costume


In Leksand where we have our house the old tradition of wearing folk costume is still very present on midsummer, weddings and special occasions. When I was younger I thought it was nuts but I guess as with many things now I love it. I’m also getting older and wiser… I think I saw it as something holding the evolution back instead of  an homage of older tradition as I see it now.



Sure there are some folks that are very strict in how, when, what you should wear these costumes. But many are just happy for the tradition to live on. Just as in these villages – 20 years ago when people from outside moved to these villages and wanted to do something new they where nearly bullied by the villages but nowadays the old people are more happy that the houses is being used and loved. These images above I took a couple of years ago on a midsummer celebration. But if you are strict – the colors are supposed to be just right, every little village as well as town have their own colors, kind of aprons, ribbons, way of tying the shawl and so on…


I bought these 3 aprons at an auction for next to nothing. I loved the colors and became intrigued by the pink. At the costume museum there was this note that a pink apron was totally insane and no one in it’s right state of mind would ever want to wear it but it was some kind a way of testing modern expressions. Pink – always this revolting color! The black and white was used during personal mourning and the yellow is for funerals and also used when you where fasting. Fascinating – isn’t it!


Ever since we got this house 4 years ago I’ve been wanting my own costume. The proper thing to do is to sew one myself but time hasn’t presented itself for this cause. Buying one costs as much as 8000 kronors (about 950 Dollars). But then one day last week I found a plastic bag in the attic containing a whole costume! Just the bag is missing. Above I haven’t tried it on properly but it fits! And the traditionals wont approve with the sneakers but I don’t care…

The only thing is that this costume comes from Rättvik – which is the rivalry town just north of our town Leksand. My mother in laws mothers family was from there. Maybe I can try to exchange it for a dress from this town. You get really supportive of your own town when living here.


My mother in law gave this shawl buckles to me when she heard that I was into wearing the costume. Made of silver!


This photo hangs in our house. The girls are relatives of my husband. Dressed properly in traditional costume from Leksand. I you follow me on instagram (@isabellemcallister) you can see an old photo with kids smiling. Something I’ve never seen before. I think it has something to do with shutter time. You had to sit rather flat and serious since you had to sit still for such a long time when the camera was in use. I don’t think everyone was this serious? Also if you got your photo taken like once in your life you probably wouldn’t had time to find you photo/mirror face yet!!



When going to the small costume museums in town I found this image. It’s made in modern time but the girl is wearing a traditional wedding outfit from this part of Sweden – Dalarna.  Makes me think of Mexican, African and folk traditions from all over the world! Also Frida Kahlo pops into my head! Very beautiful!

Photo by Laila Duran – from the book Folklore Fashion


This image is from the Nordic Museum – an old, real wedding photo from this region taken 1901. The man actually came from a village just next to ours. Beautiful isn’t it?

Olle Björs, Heden (1872-1952) and Kari Anbo, Hästberg, 1901
Leksand Municipality in Dalarna County
Via Nordiska museet and this blog on Nordic Thoughts


Do you think I can do a kind of modern/traditional mashup swag?

More about these costumes


 Eleonore Nygårds from the blog Ytligheter – she comes from Leksand and did an interview about these costumes – watch it – in Swedish here.



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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

jans schwester
July 30, 2014 at 21:25

I like these old costumes, and I especially like your combination with sneakers and hat! thanks for showing all the beautiful photos!

Isabelle McAllister
July 30, 2014 at 23:35
– In reply to: jans schwester

haha KAtarina! thanks for supporting my swag!

Jenny from dosfamily
July 30, 2014 at 22:08

I love this! So great. My mother has made a folkdräkt of her own. Perhaps i should try it on

Isabelle McAllister
July 30, 2014 at 23:34
– In reply to: Jenny from dosfamily

It’s a done deal Jenny – let’s see it on!

July 30, 2014 at 22:37

Very interesting for us un-swedish readers. Nice costumes!

Isabelle McAllister
July 30, 2014 at 23:34
– In reply to: Katarina

Thanks Katarina – glad you like it!

July 31, 2014 at 05:35

Mums säger jag bara! Inläggs-mums! Mumma för en historia-sucker som mig, att få ta del av ett så härligt och genomarbetat inlägg!

Det är så svårt att låta bli att le åt din mans gravallvarliga släktingar, förmodligen är det precis som du säger, med slutartider och så. Plus att man nog tyckte det var lite finare att vara allvarlig då, än vad vi oftast tycker nuförtiden. De hade väl mer högtidlighet inskrivet på dagordningen liksom.

Tänkvärt det där med att folkdräker över hela världen påminner så mycket om varandra. (Vi är inte så olika som vissa verkar vilja tro…) Till fest ville man ha färg i överflöd så klart! Den lilla svarta var väl inte uppfunnen än? ;)

Och den fantastiska Frida Kahlo ja, hon var ju – också – en sådan där nydanerska när det gällde stil. Eller snarare stilar.

Så fantastiskt (ursäkta alla superlativer, men ett sånt här skönt inlägg kräver ju bara det!) att hitta en hel folkdräkt på vinden – som dessutom verkar sitta som en smäck! Älskar din kombination förresten. Särskilt dina nya vita sneakers till allt det färggranna. För visst är det väl en prislapp jag tycker mig skymta? :)


Isabelle McAllister
July 31, 2014 at 10:34
– In reply to: enannanhelena

Helena tack för dina tankar ord och all fantastisk support! Uppskattar det så mycket! Ja visst är det tur m folkdräkten och skorna fick jag i födelsedagspresent! Men tror du verkligen at de var mer seriösa förut? Innerst inne liksom?

August 1, 2014 at 09:31
– In reply to: Isabelle McAllister

Isabelle! Det korta och koncisa svaret är: Nej. Fast eftersom mitt mellannamn inte direkt stavas “kort och koncis” så måste jag förstås tillägga något mer. ;)

Seriöst menade jag inte – högtidligt. Jag tror att de kanske tog en del situationer lite mer på allvar, än vad vi gör idag. Och ägnade sig åt en del striktare traditioner.

Tror inte att de var så bra på det här underbara med att embrace:a the nonsens som vi är idag. Fast vad vet jag, det berodde säkert en hel del på i vilken samhällsklass man växte upp också. Rent historiskt så har väl överklassen haft väldigt mycket tid “att larva runt”, medan deras tjänare hade fullt upp med att städa upp efter dem.

Det var bara det. ;)


July 31, 2014 at 19:05

Så jäkla fina! Tänker också på dräkter från andra länder där man ser folket i dessa på nästan vardagliga plan och vår blir mer och mer sällsynt. Flickan på bilden, hennes hatt och sjal är så jäkla fina!

July 31, 2014 at 21:57

Älskar såna här gamla bilder! Jag arbetade nyligen med en utställning med gamla fotografier (eller daguerreotyper som det hette då, bland annat) och läste då om det där med slutartiden så det stämmer nog. Superhärlig bild på de leende barnen!

August 12, 2014 at 12:07

In Germany we would call you “a perosn with a creative vein”! Love your Blog :)

American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer Unit Study
March 2, 2015 at 23:44

[…] Women’s Clothing , Accessories, and Undergarments from A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle * Swedish Folk Costume from Dos […]

Thrifted this amazing book | Isabelle McAllister
May 13, 2015 at 17:51

[…] i sommar tänker jag använda familjen i Dalarnas Rättviksdräkt på midsommar. Jag har skrivit mer om det här på gamla bloggen. Tänker också att vi måste claima tillbaka folkdräkten från […]

June 1, 2015 at 01:57

first of all, yes, i think you can pull off the modern/traditional thang. i was just wondering if there was way you could re-post the video above with english subtitles… thanks!

Isabelle McAllister
June 1, 2015 at 16:48
– In reply to: SOMEONE

thanks! Well I cant do anything about the video – it’s not mine and you tube doesn’t work that way but glad you like it!

April 15, 2016 at 02:46

Do you have the pattern or instructions on how to make the costume (apron and scarf?) on the little girl? I would like to make it for my 8 yo daughter for a school project.

Jenny Brandt
April 15, 2016 at 11:35
– In reply to: CINDY SIROIS


nope, sorry I don´t have it.

August 24, 2016 at 03:27

Love the costumes! Could you tell me where I could buy a girl’s costume, like the ones in the first two pictures?

Jenny Brandt
August 25, 2016 at 08:43
– In reply to: Lisa

Hey Lisa!
I don’t know where you can buy them. Sorry.
Her in sweden you see them at fleamarkets from time to time- that’s all I can think of

Rebeckah Orton
October 19, 2017 at 00:20

Hi there! I found your lovely pictures while looking for a traditional dress to make for my daughter. Where we live, in Oregon (USA), we have a Scandinavian Midsummer festival every year to celebrate the heritage many of us enjoy as my town was settled by Finns and Swedes (my great grandmother was from a village near Estuna). As you said, the older folks here like to see that tradition is upheld and the dresses are “just so.” So I’m trying to find the right fabrics for the little girls’ yellow dress you have pictured here. Do you know where I could start looking to find the right stuff? Feel free to email me if you can think of anything!

Isabelle McAllister
November 15, 2017 at 21:10
– In reply to: Rebeckah Orton

Hi Rebekca, thanks for your comment and how cool you are trying to make one! I would contact they sell all the fabrics and patterns in my area. good luck

Jenny K Hammond
March 21, 2018 at 21:52

FOR SALE: My costume from Leksand with a white cap and rose pattern shawl.
All pieces originally from Sweden about 50 years ago. It has been stored under
maximum conditions and is like new.

Corinne Dahl
April 22, 2018 at 14:53
– In reply to: Jenny K Hammond

I am looking for a Dalarna costume….Swedish family is from Gagnef. What size is yours? Do you have a picture? What price are you asking? I am coming to Sweden the end of June of this year.

April 23, 2018 at 21:31
– In reply to: Corinne Dahl

Hi corinne, mine is not up for sale. But i should check with Leksands hemslöjd they sell or know where to buy. Gagnef is not far from where we are.