Netherlands: Volendamm

Front view
Front view

General description Woman in the typical “Dutch” costume, though this originally was only worn in Volendamm and a couple of other fishing villages in the Northern Netherlands. She is wearing the more festive version for weddings, etc.

Dimensions 36 x 17 x 10 cm

Date when acquired Early 1970s

Original Date Early 1970s

Source Rotterdam, Holland. A present from my mother after a day trip to Rotterdam.



Plastic with movable eyes, arms and legs. Her hair is a very pale blonde, with a parting on the right and tied in two plaits with ribbons in the colours of the Dutch flag, red white and blue.


Back view
Back view


She is wearing a black nylon square-necked blouse with short sleeves not the overbodice or jacket (kletje) worn originally. Around the neckline is a shiny white braid printed with a scene of typical Dutch windmills in black. The front of the blouse is closed with a piece of narrow dark blue braid. Under the blouse she is wearing a cotton double bib (kraplap) printed with pink and yellow flowers on a white background. Her long skirt is made of brushed cotton and has irregular stripes in blue, red, orange, yellow and green. She is wearing neither the padded hip roll nor the multiple petticoats typical of this region. Over her skirt is an apron made of the same black material as her blouse with an inset of the same floral material used for the bib. The ties of the apron are made of the same black-and-white windmill braid as used around her neckline. The woman has black lacy knee-length socks and a pair of wooden clogs on her feet. This is a modern style as usually white stockings were worn and clogs would never have been worn for festive occasions.

On her head is the typical starched close fitting white lace cap with a point on the crown and two wings over the temples. It is lacking the traditional black undercap.


Side view of the cap showing peak and curved of the edges
Side view of the cap showing peak and curved of the edges


She has a red material choker around her neck and a string of red beads with a brass spiral pendant in the middle; these possibly represent the typical Dutch edelkraal.


Background information

Volendamm is in the province of North Holland, on the west coast of Lake IJssel (the former Zuidersee). Nowadays, Volendamm is a popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands, well known for its old fishing boats and the traditional clothing still worn by some residents.

The women’s costume of Volendamm, with its high, pointed bonnet, is one of the most recognisable of the Dutch traditional costumes as it has been used to advertise Dutch produce for a long time. It is often featured on tourist postcards and posters (although there are believed to be fewer than 50 women now wearing the costume as part of their daily lives, most of them elderly). Volendam traditional dress is nowadays used as the Dutch national costume as the black skirt, striped apron and jacket, the shawl and the ladies’ lace cap are famous all over the world and immediately associated with the Netherlands.

The white starched lace cap was not used for everyday wear instead the head was covered by a small black cap. The exaggerated peaked style of this lace cap was first seen in the 20th century. Before this the black undercaps and the white overcaps were less peaked in shape, though the wings did still extend out to the side.

The silhouette of the costume of the women of Volendamm dates back to the 17th century when padded hip rolls were worn. This shape may also be formed by several layers of underskirts. Nowadays, women wear one or two petticoats and do not wear the padded hip roll. The skirt maybe striped like this this doll’s, but the day-to-day version although having a similar cut is black or navy blue, while the apron is striped.

Above the skirt, the women wear a white sleeveless underbodice ornamented with a bib (kraplap) like that on this doll. The bib is similar to the ones used in Germany and reflect the German influence. The kraplap is made of two squares of fabric with floral designs that are joined at the shoulder. It was fastened at the neck and then secured to the costume at the bottom with ribbons. A solid short standing collar was attached at the neckline. The kraplap extended to just above the bust line and was covered with a dark wool jacket or overbodice (kletje). For daily wear, the kraplap and white underbodice were replaced by a printed bodice. For daily wear, the kraplap and white underbodice were replaced by a printed bodice.

The kletje may have a short skirt or peplum attached to it. It fastens at the centre front and has a trimmed square neckline, front and back, to display the kraplap underneath. A white fichu or neckerchief is worn with the ends tucked into the kletje. This can be replaced by a knitted shawl or scarf. Usually, women wear white stockings and leather buckle shoes.

Interestingly, Volendamm has its own customs which set it apart from the rest of the Netherlands. The people living there also have their own dialect, called Volendams. During the Reformation (16th century), the village remained Catholic unlike the people living in the rest of the area, so this costume showed that the women were of the Catholic faith.


Source(s) of information



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