The embroidery of Hungarian Lady dresses

While Hungarian men could be clearly distinguished by their Eastern dresses at the first look, Hungarian ladies tended to follow the fashion of West Europe. However, we can find the typical Hungarian embroidery on their dresses both in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Dresses or gowns could be quite costly due to the application of many rich cameos, pearls, gold or gems. A garment of duchess Ference Rákoczi was richly decorated with  150 pearls.

Substantive elements of female fashion were:  under the overcoat a shirt with gathered sleeves ( embroidered or decorated with beads), nicely lined,  usually decorated waistcoat, long gathered skirts with lace or velvety piping, and pinafore also decorated with lace or needlework. Women also wore mantles, fur jackets, and richly decorated bonnets.

Read more about ladies’ headwear on my page:

Girls uncovered their hair, however, they had it bound in a ‘párta’ headdress. Lower and higher stratum societies wore similar clothing, the variance was within the quality of fabrics and workmanship. Much attention was given to the presentation of harmonious adornment. Black was for the  Hungarians mostly reserved for mourning clothing, brighter colors were the fashion for ladies’ clothing.

The red dress with 12 pearls of Zrínyi Ilona was used to pay for the purchase of an entire village. Of course, such wear was not just a fashion excess because it lent prestige to the family. (Please, note that I use the Eastern name order for Hungarian names where family names come first.) Here are a few pictures of Zrínyi Ilona, wife of Prince Thököly Imre, mother of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc:

Here is a skirt from the 1640s with typical Hungarian embroidery:

We can see similar skirts on the other members of the Eszterházy family, namely on Desewffy Orsolya and also on Thököly Éva and Thököly Katalin:

Desewffy Orsolya
Thököly Éva
Thököly Katalin

The next dress belonged to the wife of Prince Bethlen Gábor, Catherine of Brandenburg:

the dress of Catherine of Brandenburg

For comparison, here is the dress of Queen Mary Habsburg, wife of King Lajos (Louis) II who died in the Battle of Mohács in 1526:

Maria von Habsburg
the wedding dress of Maria von Habsburg
Maria von Habsburg

At last, take a look at the dress of Báthori Erzsébet (1560-1614) who is quite wrongly accused of killing many innocent girls:

Báthori Erzsébet

Here is my article about the life of Báthori Erzsébet:

Báthori Erzsébet

Source: (partly) Hagyomány és Múltidéző:,

Arcanum and Kisméta:


Illésházy István († 1609), Vice Comes of Pozsony county, later Palatine and his wife, Erdődy Anna († 1577), in the St.Márton Cathedral, Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg)

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