Montreiano folk costume

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Montrei's folk costume is descended from the clothing of the 19th century, and is the same as that of Alta California. Folk costumes are worn on special occasions, daily clothing is now like that of most western nations. The style of clothing comes from a need for ease of movement. For men, this meant cattle ranching, and for the women, it meant working in gardens, or working around the home.


For men, the dress consists of the following:

  • A black, navy, charcoal, or brown broad brimmed felt hat, decorated around the crown with gold embroidery, or for those who are not so wealthy, in cotton thread in constrasting embroidery.
  • A short scarf is worn tied around the head to protect the inside of the hat from oils from the head and hair.
  • A short jacket made of silk, calico, or wool (in winter), lined with silk, or for poorer men, muslin in black, navy, charcoal, or brown color. It is usually embroidered finely along the hem, cuffs and collars in gold thread, silk, or cotton thread. It has a low V neck and shawl collar which extends down to the center of the chest. It is buttoned with two to three buttons. Starting from the last button, it is cut so that it opens and curves at an angle away from the last button, down to the side seams, displaying the waistcoat underneath.
  • Waistcoat, highly embroidered or made from imported cloth (Japanese silk has become popular).
  • A white shirt, sometimes pleated down the center, but mostly plain with a collar and open from the neck down 3 to 4 inches, although the latest trend is for the shirt to be buttoned the entire length.
  • High waisted trousers of the same materials as the coat (the materials are matched, never contrasted). These trousers open along the sides with buttons, sometimes lacing. The lower six inches of the leg features a gusset at the side seam, originally to allow ease of putting on and taking off boots. This part of the trousers is usually left open, and not buttoned, except at the most formal events.
  • In hotter weather, short breeches with stockings, decorated in the same manner as the trousers, except they are buttoned the entire length and feature no gusset.
  • Deer skin shoes are typical, and often tooled and decorated. More popular (and less expensive) are plain leather shoes made of cow hide. Men who still ride horses will wear leather boots.
  • A red sash is wrapped around the waist, tied at the side, and allowed to hang from mid thigh to the knee. Sometimes embroidered with a subtle pattern, usually plain, but of fine cloth. This is wrapped around itself so that the ends are tucked into it if the wearer will be someplace where it may get caught.
  • The final mark which makes this outfit distinctly Californian, is the cloak. This cloak is either indigo or black, and usually embroidered along the hem, and sometimes over the entire garment. It is long and hangs either to the knee or the calf. Wealthy men will have highly figured and embroidered cloaks, some going to the extreme of being somewhat gaudy. Less affluent men have simpler cloaks. The cloak was originally intended to keep out the chill in winter or protect the coat from the weather (such as rain). No Montreiano (or Californio) man would think of wearing the traditional costume in public without the cloak.

Women's dress by contrast is a lot less complex, but includes brighter colors:

  • A fitted dress made of calico, silk, or crepe is worn. Sleeves are traditionally short, although there are dresses with longer sleeves to three fourths length with wide, hanging cuffs. The skirt extends to just above the ankle. The waist is somewhat loose, compared to other dress styles of the period which this dress originated. The entire dress is usually embroidered in a small repeating pattern if plain colored. If the dress is made of patterned cloth, only the hems are embroidered. Dresses in plain colored cloth will usually have much more elaborate hem embroidery. Usual colors are either dark, such as indigo, charcoal, or brown, or pastel, such as blue, pink, green, yellow, or purple. Red is considered bold (there's a saying, "doƱia de ropa roxa" - "Lady of red clothing" , implying a woman of loose morals). Black dresses are worn in mourning and feature much simpler hem or dress body embroidery.
  • No corset is worn, in contrast to the typical women's outfit of the time which always included a corset. The reason for this is that a corset restricts the work a Montreiana or California woman would need to perform.
  • Satin shoes which are highly embroidered in gold or silk thread, or leather shoes which are tooled similarly to the men.
  • Like the men, a sash is worn around the waist, and is highly embroidered, or of a patterened cloth (striped fabric is very popular). This is usually tied into a bow in the back if the woman is doing something where it could be snagged or catch on fire. Normally, it is tied in a simple knot at the back.
  • A long mantle is worn over the head in Montrei. It is quite long and covers the entire head. Modesty requires the hair be entirely covered. In church, the mantle is wrapped around to cover the bosom, often pinned close to the neck. The mantle is usually of pastel colors, pink, blue, or green are popular choices. In mourning, a black mantle is worn. Lace mantles have become popular in the past 50 years. The only time a mantle is not worn is during work, or for young girls before puberty.
  • A comb is worn under the mantle, which raises it up and above the head. This comb is not worn if going to church, as a more modest look is required. For formal events, no woman would be caught without one, and it is often the most valued piece of jewelry a Montreiana or California woman owns.
  • If the hair is worn long, it is put into a low bun, tied into a low pony tail, or worn in braids.

For women, the only piece of traditional clothing worn regularly these days is the mantle, and usually only during church services.

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