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Presentation of Czech Traditional Folk Clothing

The Czech Embassy hosted a fashion show of its national costumes as part of the EU Open House on Saturday, May 14, 2022.


Traditional folk clothing in the Czech Republic is a reflection of the country’s rich and long history and vibrant culture. These national costumes, called kroj (singular) and kroje (plural) in Czech, are also indicative of the various regions of the Czech Republic, specifically Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.

At the open house, Miss Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Queen Anna Sedivy-Thompson, Miss Kansas Czech-Slovak Queen Jessica Wonderlich and Miss Czech-Slovak US 2018-2019 Runner-Up Heather Vikla, Czech Embassy’s Masaryk Diplomatic Program participant Austin Sappington, and others presented national costumes from the Czech Republic.


The fashion show was as follows:

1. Jessica Wonderlich presented an Americanized Kroj (American Diaspora)

2. Anne Smisek Jans presented Strakonice (Prácheňsko)

3. Brenda Sedivy Thompson presented Strážnice (Slovácko)

4. Heather Vikla presented Velké Karlovice (Valašsko)

5. Austin Sappington presented Americanized Valašsko

6. Alenka Jans presented (Blata)

7. Evelyn Pavelka-Sykora Sedivy presented Kyjov (Kyjov)

8. David Thompson presented Hluk (Uherský Ostroh)

9. Eva Sedivy-Thompson presented Bílovice (Uherské Hradiště)

10. Anna Sedivy-Thompson presented Prostějov (Haná)


Text of the descriptions of the kroje at the fashion show:

Americanized Kroj - Jessica Wonderlich

Jessica Wonderlich is Miss Czech/Slovak Kansas 2021-2022 from Topeka, Kansas. Jessica is wearing an Americanized kroj that she made to be similar to her great-grandmother’s kroj. Jessica is wearing a white blouse with a ruffled neckline and sleeves. Her blue skirt is accented with black, blue, and gray trim, and a petticoat underneath. She is wearing a black apron with a sunflower pattern to represent her home state of Kansas. Her black vest has two sunflowers on the front, and is accented with a blue, green, and yellow embroidery design on the back, and is tied together in the front with a blue ribbon. Jessica is also wearing Czech Garnet earrings her parents gave her, and a Czech Garnet ring, a gift for winning Miss Czech Slovak Kansas Queen. To complete the outfit, Jessica is wearing black boots and a flower headpiece.

Strakonice - Anne Smíšek Jans

Anne is wearing a kroj from the South Bohemian area of Strakonice.  This is a new kroj from this region with the blouse, vest and apron recently made and purchased there. The skirt was made in the United States. This kroj was used by the Domaci Czech Folk Dance group in New Prague, MN. The skirt for this kroj was made with a kelly green heavy cotton fabric, it is gathered at the waist and has a golden yellow trim. A petticoat underneath adds fullness to the skirt. The long apron for this kroj is also gathered at the waist and is made from white cotton fabric with white embroidery and cutwork. The white cotton blouse is made in traditional methods of squares and rectangles. It buttons up the front, gently gathers at the neck, and is trimmed with white eyelet embroidery and cutwork. The full sleeves are gathered and tied at the elbow and are trimmed with the same white eyelet embroidery and cutwork as the neckline.

The navy blue fitted vest has colorful red, yellow, green and white embroidery on the front and back of the vest.  The front of the vest has a red braided trim around the top edge along with red houndstooth, believed to keep the spirits at bay! This style of vest laces in the front with a red cord. The criss-crossing red ribbon on the back of the vest simulates a faux closure. Tucked into the front of the vest is a white embroidered and lace-trimmed handkerchief. The head piece for this kroj was typically a dove. This ensemble is completed with a traditional red glass bead necklace, red tights, and black shoes.

Strážnice - Brenda Šedivý Thompson

Brenda is modeling a kroj from Strážnice in the Slovácko region of South Moravia. This kroj is most well-known for its unique color palette and heavy use of brocade satin fabric. Strážnice was a more urban and affluent area compared to nearby rural villages at the time this kroj came about, which is why the fabrics used in its construction are so rich. There isn’t very much decoration of this kroj, so the attention is all on the luxurious fabric. The skirt, apron, and vest of this kroj are all made from different colors of floral brocade. This kroj was made by Tradice Slovácka in Blatnička, Czech Republic.

The blouse, called a natáhačka, has a unique shape that is only seen in Strážnice. The bottom of the sleeve is tight around the arm before flaring at the cuff with beautiful lace accents. The vest has a square neckline, which is predominantly seen only in the Slovácko region of the Czech Republic. A red printed headscarf, called a Turkish scarf, is worn by married women.

There are two very heavily starched petticoats underneath the skirt of this kroj, giving it a very round and full shape. Because of the stiffness and the volume of these petticoats, the wearer actually cannot sit down while wearing this dress. A striking red ribbon tied at the waist and black shoes are the finishing touches for this eye-catching kroj.

Valašsko - Heather Vikla

Heather is wearing the authentic kroj of Velké Karlovice, which is in the Valašsko Region of eastern Moravia. This kroj was made in Velké Karlovice, Czech Republic by Valašský kroj maker, Vladislava Hrubešová. It took three months to make and was made completely by hand using only locally-sourced natural fibers. You might notice that this kroj is simpler in decoration compared to other Moravian kroje, and that is for two reasons. The first is that Valašsko is a cold rural mountainous region, so the kroj is made to be very warm instead of very decorative. The second reason is because of the unique flavor of Czech folklore that exists in Valašsko. A long time ago, there was a large migration of people into Valašsko called the Vlachs, which is where we get the name Valašsko from, and these were shepherds that migrated from modern-day Romania. The Vlach pastoral culture mixed with the folk cultures of the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, and Germans in this area led to the creation of this beautiful and distinctly Czech folk dress.

The kroj features a white shirt with white embroidered decorations and gathered sleeves, a design that is specific to the town of Velké Karlovice. The embellishments on the red and green wool vest indicate both the kroj’s town of origin and the type of celebration for which this kroj is worn. The top skirt is made of a traditional Czech material called Modrotisk, or blueprint, which is a hand-dyed and hand-printed indigo fabric. The pattern on the blueprint varies from town to town and from region to region, and you’ll get to see another example of a different blueprint fabric later in the fashion show. This fabric is one of the most well-known pieces of the Valašský kroj and is one the most famous symbols of Czech folk culture. This top skirt is worn over a voluminous black underskirt, called a kasanka.

Single young ladies in the Valašsko Region sometimes wore handkerchiefs on their heads just like the married women. This kept them warm while they were out in the cold mountain air. Heather is modeling the unmarried woman’s version of the headscarf, as the scarf is tied in the back instead of under the chin and there is no lace cap underneath the scarf. Thick wool socks and traditional krpce, or leather shoes, complete this rich and elegant Valašský kroj.

Valašsko - Austin Sappington

Austin is also modeling a kroj from the Valasško (Moravian Wallachian) region of eastern Czechia. This kroje has a unique look compared to other Czech kroje. It is simpler than kroje from many other regions, because the Czechs of this region were shepherds and farmers. Moravian Wallachia is unique compared to other Czech regions because it was settled by Vlachs, a people from the Balkans who are closely related to modern Romanians. Vlachs settled the region during the wars between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires and mixed with the local Slavic population. Today the people of this region are Czechs, and not Romanians, but nevertheless, the Vlachs left a strong legacy.

Austin’s kroj is a working kroj. It would have been worn to work or perhaps to a festival, but not to church. His slippers are called krpce and are well suited to working in the highland environment of the Carpathian Mountains. His pants are made of wool and would have kept him warm during the cold Carpathian winters. The most distinctive part of Austin’s kroj is his hat, which is tall and pointed. Men in Valassko either opted for these hats or wool shepherds’ hats.

Austin’s kroj was mostly made by Maggie Grmela, a Czech-American kroj maker in the town of West, Texas. She made his vest, shirt, and pants. His hat, krpce, and socks were made in Valasško.

Blata - Alenka Jans

Alenka is wearing a kroj from the South Bohemian Blata region. This kroj has a petticoat to hold the tightly gathered and pleated fuschia wool skirt.  The skirt length falls below the knees and is decorated with a silk embroidered ribbon and silver braided trim. The bottom of the skirt has black houndstooth which was believed to keep the evil spirits from creeping into the soul. This apron is very indicative of the Blata region with white embroidery and cutwork around the outer edge of the apron. The white floral embroidered patterns on the apron are trimmed with very colorful glass seed beads. This is the only region that typically used glass beads to adorn their kroje. The large cutwork has an intricate mesh embroidered into the center. To complete the apron are gold “flitters” or flat sequins. On top of the apron is a similarly decorated handkerchief.

The white cotton blouse is made in traditional methods of squares and rectangles, it gently gathers at the neck through the delicate lace. The full sleeves are gathered at the elbow and the sleeves are trimmed with lace and tied with a colorful ribbon at the elbow. This blouse has a separate embroidered and beaded collar that is gathered and tied in the back. The black velvet vest has the closure in the back and is embellished with coral and green trim and white beads.  The bottom of the vest has traditional rounded scallops that sit over the top of the apron and skirt. This vest was traditionally worn with an apron that had embroidery, beads and flitters.

One of the elements that made this kroj especially famous was the carved carp fish scales that adorned the vest to represent the fish farms of this particular region.  The headband Alenka is wearing is made of black velvet and is decorated with gold, silver, red and green beads.  This headband is fastened with embroidered ties in the back. Red tights and black flats finish the ensemble.

Kyjov - Evelyn Pavelka-Sýkora Šedivý

Next we have a kroj from the town of Kyjov, which is in the Slovácko region of southern Moravia. The Kyjovský kroj has become one of the most recognizable icons for Czech folk culture around the world. This particular kroj was made in the late 1930s and is being modeled by my maternal grandmother, Evelyn Pavelka-Sýkora Šedivý.

As time went on, the skirts of the Kyjovský kroj got shorter and fuller, until they reached the silhouette many are familiar with today. However, the longer, straighter skirt is how this kroj looked before modernization. The orange-red striped skirt is made of wool and is decorated with embroidered poppy flowers, which are significant to the traditional recipes of this region.

The green, orange, and gold vest is made of silk and the three circles on the back represent the Holy Trinity. The blouse is lightly starched to give it its characteristic voluminous sleeves. The black lace on the sleeves and scarf is hand-made bobbin lace. Another way you can tell this kroj is from Kyjov, rather than neighboring towns, is because the sleeves and scarf are only black and white with no colorful inlays. The heavily embroidered black and white rectangular shoulder scarf is only worn by brides and married women.

The apron is made of Modrotisk, or blueprint fabric, and was hand-made and hand-dyed using indigo dye. This is the same kind of fabric that we saw earlier on Heather’s Valašský kroj, but the difference in the style and design of the two fabrics shows how much variation there can be between kroje from different regions. The embroidery on the apron was hand-done. Kroje from the towns in the Kyjov region can look confusingly similar to the untrained eye, but one of the tricks you can use to determine the specific town a kroj came from is to look at the pattern on the apron. This particular pattern comes from the town of Kyjov.

Uherský Ostroh - David Thompson

David is wearing the festive kroj typical of a young man in Hluk, which is a town in the Uherský Ostroh area of southeastern Moravia. Hluk is known for its rich folk culture and its world renowned jízda králů, or Ride of Kings festival.

The young men from Hluk wear thick wool pants with blue cord embellishments and a white or yellow fringed wool scarf tucked in the front. A leather belt, specially decorated with metal details in the traditional style, is wrapped twice around the waist and the pants are tucked into traditional black leather boots.

The vest of this kroj has bright orange flowers on it, which look like pom poms, and these are a detail that is unique to Hluk and the neighboring towns in the region. Many of the kroje from this region look very similar, but one of the several ways you can tell this kroj is specifically from the town of Hluk is by the embroidery on the shirt. The embroidery pattern from Hluk has black and yellow accents around the flower at the top of the chest, which you can see on David’s shirt. The shirt has to be starched for the sleeves to have their full shape, and the detailed plaques of embroidery on the chest and shoulders have to be removed and sewn back on every time the kroj is cleaned and starched, so a lot of time and work goes into making this kroj look so extravagant.

A thick black hat is worn with a traditionally decorated corsage pinned to the side. Since the feather in the corsage has not been cut, this indicates that this hat would have been worn by a groom on his wedding day.

Uherské Hradiště - Eva Šedivý-Thompson 

Eva is modeling a kroj from the town of Bílovice, which is in the Uherské Hradiště region of southern Moravia. The silhouette of this kroj, with its large round sleeves and a short, high waisted skirt, make this kroj easily identifiable as coming from the Slovácko cultural region. This kroj is very elaborate and it takes over 30 minutes to put on. This kroj was made by Věra Hubáčková in Březolupy, Czech Republic.

Under the beautiful blue brocade top skirt are four heavily starched petticoats that are tied around the waist with strings. In the back is a tightly pleated black panel with detailed gold embroidery at the top. This is the most delicate part of the kroj and the wearer cannot sit on this back skirt otherwise it will be ruined, so wearing this kroj is very hard work. A thick floral folk ribbon is tied in a bow around the waist and the bottom of the ribbon must sit at the hem of the skirt.

On the chest, collar, and shoulders of this kroj are hand-embroidered plaques with geometric designs that indicate the specific town in Uherské Hradiště where this kroj originates. The embroidery from Bílovice is always gold and purple. Underneath these plaques is the vest, which is white with sequins and more floral ribbon. Red houndstooth trim on the arms of the vest was believed to serve as protection for the wearer.

One of the most memorable features of this kroj are the huge pleated sleeves. These sleeves are hand-pleated using a very old traditional technique and they are stuffed with stuffing like pillows, so they are soft to the touch. They are also quite heavy on the arms, so the wearer cannot lift their arms too high.

There are many different headpieces from this region, but today Eva is modeling the Turkish scarf. Traditionally, Turkish scarves were only worn by married women, but in the modern day, it is very common to see young girls wearing the headscarf, as well. The pattern on the scarf is specific to the town it’s from, and the way the scarf is tied is also unique to each village. In fact, in addition to having a kroj maker for each region, there is a specialist for each town whose only job is to tie headscarves, and they must know the specific way each town ties their headscarf.

Haná - Anna Šedivý-Thompson 

This Hanácký kroj is from Prostějov near Olomouc in central Moravia and is being modeled by Anna. Contrary to its rich, regal appearance, this kroj was worn by peasants and farmers hundreds of years ago in the Czech lands. Floral motifs and embroidery on this kroj are some of the most intricate and well-known in the entire Czech Republic. This kroj was made by Tradice Slovácka in Blatnička, Czech Republic.

Very distinctive black shoes are worn with the Hanácký kroj. These colorfully decorated heels take traditional cobblers six months to make and have to be custom-made to the measurements of the wearer. These shoes are very difficult to get in the United States, so Anna’s cousin in the Czech Republic, Dominika Šveráková, helped her get these shoes from the Czech Republic to complete this kroj.

The high waist and long, full skirt gives this kroj a very distinctive appearance. The white back-skirt of this kroj, which is called a fěrtoch, is worn over five heavily starched petticoats. The white apron features a white lace trim and beautiful yellow embroidery. Every year, young girls would add a new row of embroidery to their aprons. Little girls would have only a few pieces of embroidery, while young women would have an apron full of embroidery. In this way, it was possible to immediately determine the age of the wearer.

The vest on a Hanácký kroj makes its town of origin easily discernible, with this style of vest coming from towns in the central and northern parts of the Haná region. The short, red vest, called a kordulka, is decorated with ribbon, metallic gold lace, and embroidery. Small rounded ridges are sewn into the bottom of the vest in the back to hold up the long blue waist ribbon.

The style of the sleeves also indicates this kroj is from the Prostějov region of Haná. The blouse features heavily starched, thickly-pleated sleeves with intricately embroidered black cuffs. A large, ruffled lace collar is worn around the neck. The more lace a girl wore around her neck, the wealthier she was. In the collars worn by the wealthiest of women, the lace could sometimes stretch out over 30 feet long when unfolded.

Finally, the stunning red headpiece modeled by Anna is called a pantlék. This heavily embellished headpiece would have been worn by a bride on her wedding day. Mirrors cover the sides of the headpiece to ward off any ill will directed towards the bride. The flowers on the top of the headpiece would have been fresh flowers picked specifically for the decoration of the pantlék on the day of the wedding.

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford


Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford


Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford


Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford


Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford


Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Photo Credit: Doug Sanford


Queens of the Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant Photo Credit: Doug Sanford

Queens of the Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant
Photo Credit: Doug Sanford