What Is the French National Costume?

Depending on the region, the traditional clothing in France includes flaring white bonnets, lace-trimmed blouses, and aprons with vibrant flowers. The one thing that all of the regional costumes in France have in common is that they are all based on agricultural dress from the late 18th century.

French men’s traditional dress typically consists of six essential items. The culottes are knee-length slacks, while the chemise is a linen undershirt. Men cover their lower legs with mitasses, which are protective garters, and they wear a pair of hose, or knee-high socks. A capote or justacorp is a thick coat with broad cuffs worn over the complete ensemble, while a guillette is a little, short vest worn over the chemise.

There are four main components to traditional French women’s dress. Similar to an underskirt or shift, a chemise is worn underneath everything. Similar to a skirt, jupons are worn multiple times to signify wealth and status.

French women top their shirt with a mantlet, or short waistcoat. A fichu, a square piece of fabric worn as a modest scarf around the neck and shoulders, completes the look. Traditional French women’s attire is almost always completed by a cap or other headgear.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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