Föhr (North Frisian Fering: Feer; Danish: Før) is one of the North Frisian Islands off the North Sea coast of Germany. It is part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Apart from German, a dialect of the North Frisian language, Fering, is frequently spoken on Föhr. The traditional Föhr women’s costume is still part of every-day life, especially on the western side of the island, as it is worn on special occasions, such as for confirmation or weddings. The costumes are inherited from generation to generation and are remarkably expensive (~€ 5,000). The Föhr costume was voted traditional costume of the year (Trachten des Jahres) in 2012 by the German traditional costume society (Deutscher Trachtenverband). There is no traditional costume for men.
The Föhr costume in its present form has been in existence since about 1890. The richness of the materials and the ornate jewellery (necklace, bodice ornaments, bracelets, filigree pins to hold the headdress) reflect the times when the islanders were rich due to their whale hunting activities. The silver jewellery also has an amulet function: cross = belief, heart = love and anchor = hope. Looking at the pictures in the internet, sea shells are also part of the decoration, which is not surprising considering the island has a 15-km long beach running along its southern shore and half-way up its western shoreline.
The Föhr costume consists of an apron, skirt, bodice with sleeves, shawl and headscarf. The apron is made of fine white lace made of cambric decorated with eyelet embroidery (Lochstickerei). The ankle-length skirt is made of so-called cloth made of English weave (englisches Tuch) and is sewn onto the bodice. The skirt is 3.5—4 m wide and has 60 folds on the back part. The shawl is triangular and has a black fringe. On the headdress, above the forehead, a broad band embroidered with flowers is sewn onto the head scarf. There are long ribbons hanging down from the sides of this band. Married women wear a red bonnet embroidered with black beads over the elaborately embroidered scarf. They wear their hair in a bun, while girls put their hair in plaits.
The head scarf and shawl are fixed using more than 100 pins, so that putting on the costume can take more than 2 hours and the wearer needs someone to help them get dressed.
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