The traditional folk costume of Slovakia is called kroj. The kroj was customary wear for most Slovaks until the end of the 19th century.
Not just every region, but every village has its own kroj that is unique. Some are simple, others are an extravaganza of colors and lace, but they all tell the story of their owner.
In the past, you could tell where a person came from, and what his or her social and marital status was just by the way they dressed. Those with keen eyes can decipher the occupation, faith, and world views by paying attention to the details of the kroj.
The rule of thumb is that the more prosperous the region, the more ornamental the kroj.
Bright colors were reserved for young single people and dark colors were for seniors. The older the person, the more subdued the colors. Kroj of protestants was austere, while the attire of the Catholics was rich with colors and embroidery. Married women wore a scarf, single girls adorned themselves with a headpiece decorated with flowers and ribbons.
No part of the kroj is haphazardly just ‘there’. Everything has its place, meaning and purpose. Many ornaments go back centuries to sacred symbols known and used by the ancient Slavs in their customs and rituals. Others were worn as talismans to protect their wearers from misfortune.
Today this beautiful representation of our national folk custom is experiencing a revival.