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Sweden

A look at Sweden’s national costume worn by the ladies of the Royal Family


Photo: Sara Friberg/Royal Court, Sweden

On 6 June each year, Sweden celebrates its National Day. First celebrated in 1916, it was then made a public holiday in 2004. The Swedish Royal Family always makes sure to publicly celebrate the holiday, and all of the women in the family wear the Sverigedräkten. 

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Sverigedräkten are the folk dresses that Swedish women wear for National Day. Designed by Marta Palme in 1903, it was created to help inspire and foster feelings of national pride. However, this wasn’t the first iteration of national dress in Sweden. In the late 1770s, King Gustav III established a national dress code for the middle and upper classes to limit the amount of money spent on extravagant, foreign fashions. He created dress codes for men and women, with light blue garments (with white trim) being worn for formal occasions. 

Palme’s costume was popular for the first third of the twentieth century but fell out of popularity with WWII. It wasn’t until the outfit was discovered in a Stockholm museum in the 1970s that people widely remembered it. Queen Silvia popularised the costume when she first wore it for National Day in 1983 and cemented its popularity when it became the official national dress in 2004. 

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The Sverigedräkten (the women’s national costume) features Sweden’s colours throughout. The garments that we see worn today are typically a white shirt or blouse with a separate blue skirt or a blue dress with a yellow overskirt, with yellow and blue embroidery. Married women can wear a headscarf (though it looks like a hat), which we typically see on the Swedish royals. We have even seen a young Princess Estelle and infant Princess Leonore in the Sverigedräkten on National Day. 

Interestingly, the men in the Swedish Royal Family do not wear national costumes but tend to wear suits. 

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com