Visitors to the Faroe Islands have hardly failed to notice that many Faroese wear national costumes at parties and town festivals. They will see men wearing breeches and the distinct Faroese hats and women in full-length skirts with beautifully embroidered aprons and shawls, with elegantly made silver jewellery.
To underline the uniqueness of its culture Faroe Islands Post introduced to collectors' attention two special stamps that depict Faroese national costumes. In this annual stamp issue the aspects of both the female and male costumes were illustrated. StampNews.com invites our readers to appreciate the original design of these two interesting philatelic items!
In actuality, the Faroese national costume tradition is not very old. The costumes are based on the way everyday clothing looked up until the mid-19th century, and it was only during the national revival in the late 18th century that they started becoming different from the commoner's clothing. The term "føroyskklæði" (Faroese attire) should be compared to the concept "donskklæði" (Danish attire), which designated clothes bought in shops – and does not necessarily denote formal wear. Gradually, as it became more customary to dress in "shop's clothing" as most Europeans did, the traditional attire came to occupy a class by itself. In my childhood we still could see men, especially of the older generation, using breeches, knitted sweaters and hats in everyday life.
Over time, and especially during the national romantic revival in the late 18th century, the Faroese attire began assuming its current status for festive occasions. There have been a number of changes made from the original attire and a certain standardization of both female and male dresses has taken place, so that one can now talk about a genuine national costume. After World War II the use of the national costume gradually increased, but in the last two or three decades it has come back with a vengeance, partly because of nationalism flourishing due to the severe financial crisis in the Faroe Islands in the nineties.