National dress is a style of clothing specific to a country. It perpetuates a national identity through its links to social customs, history and traditions. National dress often plays an important role in creating a romanticised national stereotype in terms of race, gender, class and character.


Title: [Garden Fete at Broughton House]
Date: (1926)
Film-maker: Not known

The band wears woollen kilts that are pleated at the back. The kilts are worn with jackets, boots and socks. In the nineteenth century, tartan kilts had become synonymous with Scottish masculine identity after they became fashionable outside the Highlands and popular at the court of Queen Victoria. Families and clans began to adopt specific tartans, which became part of a romanticised Scottish heritage. In the West, skirts are considered predominantly women’s wear but the Scottish kilt is an exception to the rule. The National Museum of Scotland has examples of tartan cloth in its collection.

The Scotland’s People database has a photograph of a private in the 9th Royal Scots Regiment, wearing a kilt c.1915-1918 (Item No.GD1/1228/17/3).


Title: With the Bentley in France and Switzerland
Date: (1939)
Film-maker: Joseph Emberton

A French festival took place while the Emberton family was on holiday in the Alps. Groups of dancers perform in historic and traditional costumes. There is not one universal style of traditional French costume, but various provincial styles. Large headdresses were favoured in the Northern provinces, while embroidered stockings were a feature of Burgundian folk dress. Meanwhile, the women of Auvergne looped up their dresses revealing the elaborately embroidered hems of their petticoats beneath. The costumes stand in contrast to the Emberton’s contemporary British clothing.

In 1903, a local poet Frédéric Mistral, devised a festival to celebrate traditional costume and maintain local customs. For further information about Frédéric Minstral, please see The Arlaten Museum’s website which also has a collection of folk costume.


Title: [Holiday in Switzerland]
Date: (1938)
Film-maker: Nightingale Family

The woman wears a white blouse, bodice, long full skirt and an apron. The National Federation of Swiss Costumes was founded in 1926 to preserve Switzerland’s regional dress, showing nostalgia for the past and a desire to preserve local customs and craft skills. Various fashion designers were inspired by folk dress during this period including Chanel, Lanvin and Dorville.