Female Costume

Some researchers who dealt with Montenegrin folk costume divide it in citizen and traditional one. That division is usually based in the difference in dressing of orthodox women and women who lived usually on the coast – women of catholic confession. Traditional costume of women in these areas usually was made of: shirt, woolen dress, skirt, apron, belt, kerchief and socks, and as alternative clothing items they used kamizola (certain kind of a vest), koret (short coat usually brown), zubun (sleeveless garment), curdija (type of jacket-short sleeved or sleeveless), and caftan. As for the footwear most often they had opanak (peasant shoes), pasamage, and sometimes even shoes.

When we are talking about the citizen costumes we have to bear in mind all the historical and fashion events in the XVIII century. At that time the wavering wider clothes with folds was designed, which covered the shoulders, and had a square low cut neckline which was hemmed with frills made of lace or of some darker linen. The sleeves were flat and they usually had decorative cuffs. The dress with frills only later was replaced in a dress with folds. Those folds started from the middle of the décolletage around the neck ad they freely fell on the back. In the front well tight corset was connected on every side with a triangular insertion on the belt, and was richly decorated. The upper clothes in some way opened in the area of the skirt and was more or less decorated. It had a flat decorative collar, also flat sleeve which reached up to the elbow and ended with “nagoda” with more frills from which you could see lace cuffs.

Traditional Costume


From which material a skirt was made depended a lot from the social status. The skirts were usually made of flax and of hemp; festive skirts were made of silk and damask, and were usually decorated with lace or golden embroidery. The skirts were buttoned with buttons, and “ambreta’s” which had both decorative and useful function.

Rasa is a clothing item which was worn over the white shirt. Rasa was made of different kinds of wool.

Skirt was the dressing item which women who had “rasa” had, and who were members of the richer class of immigrants. They were made of “indijana”, silk “kambelot” and other materials.

The belt is a part of traditional costume. Wide belts are made of wool. Later they were replaced by “jakicar”, a hard leather belt which was decorated with red color. Then the belt was usually made of linen or flax. The belt was buttoned with buttons or a buckle or, what was usually the case, it was simply tied around the waist and was usually 6 to 8 cm wide.

What was really characteristic for Montenegrin folk costume is “cemer”. It replaced “jakicar”. It is an easier female belt which is decorated with silver filigrees and has two buckles decorated with various stones (most often those are green or dark red stones). Cemer could else be found made in forged shape. Below the old heavy belt there was another one, known as “zenski trak” (female band). “Zenski trak” is a coarse fabric band which is up to 6cm wide and 5 and more meters long with which women wrapped their waist in order to protect themselves from the pressure of the heavy belt which they wore.

Apron was considered an unavoidable part of the traditional Montenegrin folk costume. Aprons were worn with the traditional costume and were usually intended for the everyday use. Such aprons were made of “tela” and “indijana”. There were those aprons which were worn for festive occasions and such aprons were decorated with silk and golden embroidery.

Jecerma is a kind of a short vest, which goes down to the waist which was made with buttoning and without it and was usually made of coarse fabric or velvet.

Kamizola is also a kind of a vest which was worn over the shirt. It was made of silk and damask. This vest only had women from high social classes.

Zubun was made of coarse fabric, “bombazine” and velet. Zubuns were made in various lengths. They were made without sleeves and with them and they usually had buttons on them with which they were buttoned.

Dolama is a kind of an upper dress which was most often made of coarse fabric and had a festive usage. The length of dolama usually reached the knees, though sometimes it could go even below them, and dolamas always had sleeves. They were decorated with golden buttons or golden ropes.

Bran is a wide female dress. It was worn over the shirt, and it is made of an upper and lower part – from “stan” and of skirt. “Stan” was tight and close to body, while the lower part was made of 5 folds. The length of “bran” went all the way to the feet.


Traditional footwear was made of opanci (peasant footwear), slippers, shoes and pasamage. They first put on the socks or knee socks.

Knee socks are a piece of cloth which was used to tightly surround the calves. Their cutting is not at all simple. Knee socks on their ends have some hooks and loops sewed on with which they are tightened so that they can be completely smooth. Tying of knee socks lasts long. It s very important that knee socks are tightened well, because then people are stepping more securely which is of great importance for the Montenegrins who walked a lot and moved around the very steep and stony terrain of Montenegro and even wider.

Socks (bjecve) could be found in Montenegro in several shapes, their length was below the knees, up to the half of the calf or somewhat above the ankle. Lower part of the socks was woven from the wool, while the upper part which was visible most often was made in color – usually in red and in black. The socks had a small slit from the side (inner side), and the rims of the socks were hemmed with red or dark blue color.

Opanci – were the footwear which was most often worn in Montenegro. They are made of beef’s skin. The ends of “opanci” are very low, and they do not have heals, while their front part is edged, and the peak of “opanci” is very tough. The front part of “opanci” is woven into with a “cord”, thin threads of goat’s skin, which was laid transversally, from one end of “opanak” to the other. Down the length of “opanak” and along its middle three or four rows were woven which end in loops, and through them “opanak” was attached to leg. So with this part only a half of the foot was covered, because of which “opanak’ has to be firmly attached to leg. Therefore a small belt is made also from cord with which you surround the foot and with which you bind the front art with the lateral sides of “opanak”. In order for “opanak” to be softer and more comfortable Montenegrins have put inside a insole,, which was extremely significant when “opanak” is already worn or when the skin of “opanak” is already thin. The cord, the material which is used for making “opanak”, was made by Montenegrins themselves. Goat’s skin was dried and after that stretched. Then the wool was shaved, and the skin was cut in small bands, which are then softened, then woven in, attached, and winded up in balls. For making “opanak” beef’s skin can also be used. This skin was wetted, of which it folded, and then it was put in cast after which one could make “opanak” from it. Depending for which time of the year “opanak” is made, depends which skin will be used for its production. For making of “opanak” for the summer Montenegrin uses salted skin, and for all other seasons of the year he will use the unsalted skin.

Pasamage are just another kind of easy shoes or let’s say slippers in traditional Montenegrin folk costume.

Slippers or “nanule”(wooden slippers) are the footwear of oriental origin which have a wooden sole, and on top they have a leather band in which the foot goes in.

Citizen Costume


Shirts were made from expensive material and most often they were decorated with lace. They were usually made of flax, silk, damask, cotton etc. and as traditional ones they were decorated with lace and embroidery.

Citizen skirt was the item which was worn from waist to the feet. That is the clothing item which wore women in everyday use and for making of those skirts they usually used very expensive materials: heavy fabric, “kaliman”, velvet, damask and many others. Mostly they wore black skirts though there could be found some in red, green, blue and white color. Sometimes skirts were made from the same material as the upper part of the clothes so such clothing items were considered to be a set.

Karpeta was the kind of female clothing item which represented both skirt and a sleeveless dress. Depending on what is the purpose of the “karpeta” it was made of silk, wool, kaliman and many other materials, and it could be found in various colors.

Citizen belt was most often made of silk and flax. These belts were most often decorated with nicely made embroidery.

Apron was also a part of the citizen costume and was most often made of flax, “tela”, silk, and muslin. Aprons were worn over the dress or skirt and they were tied around the waist, and they were somewhat shorter than the clothes over which they were worn.

Citizen “kamizola” we can find as very simple but also as very luxuriously made ones. They were decorated with additional sewing, buttons or some silver or golden threads. What is characteristic for kamizola is that it was usually made without sleeves.

Vest is an upper clothing item and it was made of various materials, usually brocade. The vest was made in such a way that it always should be pressed against the body in order for it to accent the female bust.

Caftan is a kind of a long upper dress which is made without the lining. Of materials for its sewing most often hard cloth and damask were used, and considering the fact that it was very rarely used and that there are very few records about it we can say that that clothing item could have only women from the higher social classes.

Dress was usually simply cut with pretty raised waist. Women wore dress during the whole year, and the dresses were made from various materials and in various colors. Very often the dresses were decorated with silver lace, golden embroidery or silver cords which made them very lavish.


Socks were made of various materials, depending on the occasion for which they were made. If they were made for everyday use then they were made of wool and cotton, while if they were made for some solemn occasion then they were made of “bombaz”, silk, “spinada” etc. Most often they could be found in white, black, green and violet color.

Shoes (crevlje) are a kind of shoes which was considered to be citizen footwear, though it was not rare that they were found in traditional folk costume.

Slippers (mule) are a kind of an easy footwear in which heal was uncovered, and because of that those slippers were considered to be house footwear. These slippers in which the spirit of orient could be sensed were made of leather, fur, and brocade and these slippers had only women from higher social classes.

The clothes in women and girls is not different, and whether, a female person is a girl or a women could be concluded by what she is wearing on her head, as well as by the way in which she is making her hair. Earlier girls wore “ruba” which they tied below the chin. Sometimes girls wrapped the entire neck and even mouth. Somewhat later in XVIII century in Montenegro women also started wearing hat which was similar to male hat with a difference that in stead of half circle and Prince’s hornbeam it has a circle of several lines of golden embroidery, and in the middle of the circle there is a star. Over the hat they wore a kerchief; kerchief was worn because in the past in Montenegro a girl had to hide her hair which was usually braided in a wreath. When a girl marries she takes off the hat, and starts arranging her hair differently that it was the case while she was a girl. And what is characteristic Montenegrin women during the night wrapped their hair with a short kerchief in order to keep their hair well arranged.


As for the jewelry women had buttons, belt, buckle, hairpins, needle, earrings, medallion, ring, wedding ring, gloves, broche, and a rosary. As Montenegro developed the jewelry was not just bought at local jeweler, but people went in other areas to buy the jewelry. The jewelry was always made, bought and given to close people, and that was the case in the Old Montenegro. That characteristic was withheld until today in our areas so the family jewelry is preserved as the greatest preciousness.

Decorative details

Decorative details were sleeves, collar and lower ends of sleeves. Sleeves were made of silk and of fine velvet. They covered hands, and were extremely decorated. The collar was made of silk and velvet. It was worn in solemn occasions because of the fact that it was always made of expensive materials. It was usually worn with dresses and shirts. The ends of the sleeves are decorative details which were placed around the sleeves, and they were made of “kambrada” and most often of lace. The decorations around hands, or the ends of the sleeves could be found in various sizes depending in whether they were places as decoration on the sleeves of the shirts or on some other clothing item.