Traditional Bulgarian Costumes


Male Costumes

Man's wedding costumeq second half of the 19th century, Elin Pelin region.


Bridegroom's wedding costume, village of Chiren, Vratsa region. Middle of the 19th century.


Godfather's costume, second half of the 19th century, the village of Osenovlak, Botevgrad region.



Man's costume, second half of the 19th century, the village of Byala, Sliven region.










Men's costumes are of two major styles: belodreshna (predominantly white), or chernodreshna (predominantly black), depending on the colour of the outer garments. These two patterns are not geographically based varieties, but rather two consecutive stages in the development of the male costume.

The earliest prototype is assumed to be the one consisting of a long shirt with skirts falling above the white woollen or cotton pants tied at the waist with a waist band or belt. This conservative style was preserved for a long time because it was suitable for the most common occupations - farming and cattle-breeding.

The belodreshna men's costume includes: a tunic-like shirt, pants, and outer clothes made of white fabric (thick cloth of homespun wool). The pants appear in two variants: benevretsi (long and narrow, with tightly fitting nogavitsi in the lower part), and dimii (with broad and short legs).

The silhouette of the belodreshna costume is produced by the outer garment (kusak, klashnik, dolaktenik, golyama dreha). It is of wedge-like cut and considerable length. Stylistically, it is characterised by the specific linear embroidery motifs and colour braiding lace on the hems of the neck and on the tops of the wedges. An essential element is the waist-band made of richly ornamented fabric, predominantly red, tightly wound around the waist.

There is sound evidence that the belodreshna  costume  is of Slavic origin. It was to be found  throughout the Bulgarian ethnic territory. It was best preserved in its original appearance in North-Western Bulgaria as late as the  early decades of the 20th century.

The emergence of another type of men's costume - chernodreshna - was part of a country-wide trend of men's clothes becoming darker, particularly  prominent in the period of the Bulgarian Revival. This tendency was the result of the new social, economic, and cultural context. Beginning from the late 18th century till the middle of the 19th century men's clothes were no longer made of white aba (a kind of woollen cloth). They were instead made of black shayak (woollen textile), the pants and outer garment being of different cuts.

The pants, called potouri, are broad, with abundant black braiding decoration. An interesting point is the widespread popular belief that the more folded and pleated the potouri (their bottom in particular), the more well-to-do their owner.

The outer clothes (elek, aba, anteriya) are of straight cut and waist length.


Man's costumeq beginning of the 20th century, village of Brestnik, Plovdiv region


Man's costume, beginning of the 20th century, village of Cheshnigirovo, Plovdiv region.



Costume of bride's young brother-in-law, second half of the 19th century, Sofia region.



Man's summer festive costume, early 20th century, the village of Karnalovo, Petrich region.



Young man's festive costume, end of the 19th century, Samokov region.

Carol-singer's costume, end of the 19th century, the village of Pobeda, Dobrich region.


1. Traditional Bulgarian Costumes and Folk Arts. National Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Compiled by Viara Kovacheva-Kostadinova, Maria Sarafova, Marina Cherkezova, Nadezhda Teneva. Sofia, 1994.

2. Ethnographic Museum Plovdiv. Compiled by Anka Radeva, Lora Hristozova, Raina Kableshkova, Sonya Semerdjieva, Angel Yankov, Stoyan Antonov, Valentin Manev. Vion Publishing House, 2004.