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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking about buying my kids clothes costing $2000. Could you please help me with the decission process?

A bit of background:
Here in the Nordic countries, national costumes are widely used. They are terribly expensive, and can be seen as status symbols, but are also very versatile:
-Unlike most other fancy dresses, they are made from wool, and therefore warm.
-They have stayed the same for several hundred years, so you can be quite safe they won't go out of fashion.
-They are considered the finest clothes you can use, so you can use them for weddings (including your own), christenings, visiting the king, national days, christmas, etc.
-Inherited national costumes are considered better than new ones, since the history is an important part of the item.

The costumes are different for each and every village, sometimes even for different families. It is frowned upon to were a national costume just because you think it looks nice.

My grandmother made a lot of children's costumes in different sizes, that were used by my mother and aunts, all their children, and a few of their children, before they completely disintegrated. So my girls won't be able to use those. I have two costumes that my girls will get for confirmation, and that will fit them until they are adults:

One of this type was made for me by my mother, grandmother, and all my aunts. Instead of confirmation gifts, I got pieces of silver for my costume. The largest broche was a gift from my favorite aunt, she had found it in an antique shop many years earlier. The silver for my belt was specially designed by a local silversmith. The hat I inherited later when my grandmother died, with the promise to pass it on to my oldest daughter. That hat was made by my grandmother's grandmother, and my daughter is named after her. (It is not a picture of my set, just an example):

The other costume was an inheritance from my grandmother on my father's side, of this type:
That picture is of a typical newly made costume, my costume is 40-50 years old, and looks much nicer. The colors are more subdued, going in dark red and black.

I have put on too much weight to fit either of those, and am considering getting one of these for myself:
As you can see, it has a lot less silver, and is therefore less costly than the other types. I wore one of those almost all summer the year I met my husband (worked at a museum), so there are some really fond memories...

This spring and summer the girls are going to three events where they could use costumes: two national days, and one wedding. They both use size 10 year old, even though they are slightly younger. Usually the costumes can be adjusted to fit for at least 3-4 years. Since they will getting the real expensive versions for their confirmations (age 14), I want to get them something a bit simpler. But still something nice enough to last for generations. Something with less silver, and maybe something where me and my mother and/or mother-in-law can do part of the work instead of getting them 100 % tailor made.

I'm specifically looking at three alternatives:
1) The child version of this one. My mother or mother-in-law could probably help with the sewing. The history of the fabric was from scottish soldiers, so we could make them from kilt materials bought online, and use different color schemes:
2) A simpel version of this one, with pewter instead of silver. The top is knitted, and I already have some yarn I can use. My mother could make the skirts, but the material is expencive:
3) The girls are very proud of their Sami legacy, and I want to support them in that. But if we get a kofte, I'll have to get someone with the correct background to make it, since it is quite strictly regulated:
4) Other types they are "allowed" to use (have the family ties to), but that I'm not really considering now because of the complexity, are
Østfold: Østfoldbunaden - Sarpsborg Bunadservice
Trøndelag:å Trønderbunad/TronderBlaa_helfigur.jpg

The upside with the Sami alternative, is that the kofte is used for even more occations than the other national costumes. Some sami people wear them every day. And there are loads of color alternatives. These are not all from the correct region, but it shows some of the color variation:

Really, it all comes down to feelings and what looks prettiest. And of that, I'm not sure. Some input would be nice?

Super Moderator
20,203 Posts
Wow! Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous!

My husband is half Norwegian and only the second generation born in the US. His grandparents came from Norway in the early 1900s. I forget now which town they were from. But he was never exposed to the culture, which is sad.

If the simpler clothing is less expensive and you plan to buy new clothing in four years, I would go with the simpler styles just to keep the costs down. Unless they would get more use from the more expensive styles in the next few years and of course the clothing could be handed down.

I don't know what advice to give, really. I know I don't fully understand all the various implications of each type of clothing, although I thank you for sharing all the information and especially the beautiful pictures. I wish I could be more help.

As for the cost of traditional clothing, I worked with a group of volunteers some years ago making traditional native American dance outfits for some of the Indian kids in the area. I made grass dance outfits for the boys of various ages, similar to these:

For the girls, we made jingle dresses:

And fancy dance outfits, too:

None of these pics are of the outfits I made, nor of anyone I know, I'm just posting them as an example of the styles I've made. We also did not do any beadwork on the outfits we made. Beadwork can easily run into thousands of dollars by itself and add hundreds of hours to the work involved in creating an outfit. My point is I know firsthand how much work goes into traditional outfits, so I understand why they are so expensive and why you think they are worth the cost. I can see the work and the artistry involved in the outfits you're looking at, and that's why I think the price seems reasonable to me.

I loved reading about the traditions and history of this clothing. Thank you so much for posting. You've made my world just a little bit larger tonight, and I like that. :)

8,095 Posts
I would say that if does not cause financial hardship to do it, for several reasons.
1. It sounds like your daughters are aware of and value their heritage, which is nice in our melting pot world.
2. The clothing has really practical uses, some of it for functions where other appropriate clothing might also be expensive.
3. The dresses will become heirlooms in your family, a means of making the connection to national and family traditions real for coming generations.

Not to mention that they are indeed beautiful, as Spirit Deer said. I also want to thank you for the post. I both learned from it and enjoyed it, and appreciate the time you gave to share it with us. Frugal is not always about dollars and cents. It can also be about values, and some things are worth spending money on, even a lot of money.

Let us know what you decide, and if you get them, please follow up with some pictures. We want to see!

413 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Clothing Outerwear White Hat Dance

I repurposed shawls and silver from my old costumes and made a simple version for the kids. Before they got any real use of it, the youngest grew out of it, and into the blouse and skirt of my grandmothers old costume. The vest will have to wait until she has grown a bit in the chest region. We used a shawl instead of the vest earlier today, but I think it looks good just with the skirt and blouse. Here they are performing at the national day celebrations today.
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