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Dress of men

The men’s folk costume in Alšvanga has remained no less archaic than the women’s. It was fully national and in everyday use until the 1880s. It is similar to the costume of the Kuldīga region, however, it is more archaic and conservative than elsewhere in Latvia. The Alšvanga folk costume for a man consists of a coat, a jacket, an overcoat, trousers, a decorated shirt, a belt (woven or looped), a neckerchief, a tophat, socks, gloves and boots, pastalas or vīzes (simple local shoes).

Svārki (coat)

Men’s coats were made of a thick broadcloth, usually gray, wool, like from a sheep’s back, but there were also bright white, so-called festive coats for special occasions, such as weddings, where men were dressed in bright white from head to toe. Only the hat and boots were black. For young people, the coat was knee-length, where the boots began. Older people had skirts well below the knee. The collar is narrow, only the width of a finger, steep, decorated in black threads. Also decorated on the front of the coat on chest, along the edges, also along the pockets, which are always tucked in laterally, and along the ends of the sleeves. On the back, between the hips, the coat is gathered, i.e. folded in small folds – bundles – leaving the clothes untwisted. The bundles are sewn in a special taste and they raise the greatness of the skirt. The more bundles, the more beautifully and brilliantly they are woven, the grander, fuller and more characteristic the coat. Along the ends of the bundles, above them, fine, black patterns. The coat has no buttons. Instead characteristic plated, bright brass hooks, burnished small thick on the chest, for the content of the coat. In this way, the coat, when you put it on, has not only a pattern on the chest, but also a strip of shiny metal, say, even silver, plates. In the past, the coat was worn directly over the shirt.

Bruslaki (jacket)

Bruslaki are not as old, as the coat, however, in the more recent past, they had come into fashion and are still in vogue. Bruslaki can be worn under a coat or they take the place of a coat. They are always made of gray woolen fabrik, shorter than the coat, also with folds in the back, only folds are not raised, so as not to be a hindrance to the coat, when it is put on over the bruslaki. Bruslaki are decorated very much like the coat, only on the chest there are no hooks, but buttons, placed together, in two rows, formerly, if possible, made of fine silver, now light mother-of-pearl. Since bruslaki decorates the chest a lot, the coat, if worn over it, is left open in front. In that case, a belt is needed, preferably a shiny metal buckle, properly belting the skirt with wrist-wide and long metal flaps, i.e. for plates, in front, over the bruslaki.

Bruslaki are also made for children, but not coats. The Bruslaki seem to have had a struggle with the coats for permanence. Therefore, they could have been taken from elsewhere. In Courland, a short fur coat without sleeves was called a brucītis, and the name bruslaki may have originated from it.


The overcoat was a loosely tailored overcoat, always of black wool, long, low to cover the knees, with a wide wing collar, reaching over the shoulders. The overcoat was not a garment for honor, but for bad weather. If necessary, the broad collar could be lifted over the head. Instead of buttons, there were simple hooks. There was no embroidery either. When putting on the black long overcoat, the white Suiti man becomes black. The Suiti were a strong race and in the past were known for their big brawls, which did not leave a bad word unpunished.


The pants were made of linen, light color in warm weather, gray of wool in cold weather, always tight-fitting in lower part, which was considered attractive. Along the hips, on the other hand, the more pleats, the better. On festive occasions trousers will be white, woolen or made of linen, if you are wearing a white festive coat. The pants do not have buttons, there are also no hooks, but there are laces, strings or a drawstring. During the French Revolution, when knee-length breeches were in vogue, they were also worn in Alšvanga and were called ūzas from the German hosen.


The men’s shirt is decorated exactly like the women’s shirt. The collar is much wider than the collar of a coat or bruslaki. Being a stand-up collar, it allows you to show off the clearly visible pattern, as it extends over the decorated collar of a coat or bruslaki. The chest part is richly decorated up to the waist. In warmer weather, outerwear is usually left untucked or unbuttoned, so that the beautiful patterns stay visible. In addition to this, outerwear also usually has an extra fold at the neck for the same purpose. Shirt decorations all handmade by women. Patterned shirts for your future chosen one should not be missing in the folded dowry of young women. The shirt is held together at the neck by red or green silk ribbons, with a brooch (in the past), or a silk scarf of the same color folded into ribbons, with a knot at the neck, is wrapped around the neck.

Ratene (top hat)

Ratene is a wide-brimmed tall hat, close-fitting, dark brown or black in color. It comes from 18th century fashion. Typically, the top of the hat is usually wider than the brim around the head. A band or a silk ribbon, usually red or green, is placed around the bottom of the hat. Such a belt makes the monotony of the hat more lively. The short ends of the belt hung down at the back.

Socks and gloves

Socks and gloves in exactly the same knit and pattern as for women. Men just didn’t have the short stockings characteristic of women. When ūzas (knee-length pants) were in fashion, only long patterned socks went well with them.


The footware of honour for the Suiti men were knee-high boots, even with button-up patent leather clogs. Pastalas were used for work purposes, a kind of sandals cut from one piece of leather, with the edges rolled up, covering the toe and heel of the feet, tied to the foot along a large length with cords or straps. Vīzes, a footware made of strips of bark of willow, linden or juniper. Vīzes were also made from flax or hemp. In the 1920s, vīzes were no longer worn and were only found in museums. For women, the shoes of honor were half-boots. As a result of fashion lately, heels have been supplemented with brass horseshoes.