Peek Beneath the Skirt: Croatian Traditional and Vintage Lingerie

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No mention of Croatian traditional culture can go without swooning over elaborate folklore costumes that used to be worn in rural parts of the country for centuries. And yet… have you ever wondered what was hiding under those starched white linen skirts and intricately embroidered vests?

You have a unique chance to ‘peek beneath’ at an exhibition of the same name in Moslavina Museum in Kutina. Dedicated to traditional undergarments and matters of personal hygiene, the display was devised to speak out about certain customs and everyday habits of people who used to live in continental parts of Croatia.

As underwear doesn’t exactly constitute a topic people used to discuss in public, there are not many credible information available about either the ‘private’ garments or hygiene in general, according to curator Slavica Moslavac. To present as wide a scope as possible, the exhibition doesn’t only feature traditional etnographic artefacts, but also more modern or contemporary lingerie ranging from bras and corsets to bustiers and garter belts.

‘Peek beneath: underwear and hygiene’ opened on October 12, presenting 12 roll-ups, 20 panels, 12 large photographs and numerous mannequin dolls clad in various kinds of undergarments. Also to be seen are many original items from past times, made out of materials such as cotton, lace, flannel, silk, plush, linen and satin. Multiple artists participated with their artwork, created especially with this particular subject in mind. The Moslavina Museum plans to display the exhibition in other parts of Croatia: in Zagreb, Kumrovec, Vrbovec, Lipik, Đurđevci and Đakovo.

Underwear, in the sense the word implies today, wasn’t introduced in Croatia before the end of the 19th century, and it did not use to be a part of traditional costumes. Ruffled petticoats and summer underpants lined with lace were brought to these parts by women from other parts of Europe, such as Slovakia and Hungary; women used to wear multiple petticoats at a time, ranging from short and tight as the base and layered with rich, starched long skirts tightened around the waist. Croatian women thus started following the fashion – during housework or any other kind of daily activities, when the outside skirts and dresses raised a bit, a lacy petticoat had to peek out from beneath.



Traditional female undergarments such as bras, corsets and pants weren’t worn at all, apart from when women were on their period – when they had ‘those things’, as the then-sensitive issue used to be referred to back in the day. Men, on the other hand, used to wear multiple underpants at once, especially in winter, under thick linen or plush trousers. When it comes to modern garments, linen bras, as well as silk or linen slips and babydolls, came into fashion only in the second half of the 20th century. 

When you think of it, whatever was hidden underneath people’s clothes, be it underwear or anything regarding personal hygiene and private lives, didn’t become a subject of public debate until later in the 20th century. ‘Peek beneath’ is a rare window into life as it used to be, presenting a fascinating display of our ancestors’ intimate matters. Definitely worth a look!


Where: Moslavina Museum, Trg kralja Tomislava 12, 44320 Kutina
When: October 12 – November 10, 2017

Source: Moslavina Museum


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