The Suiti traditional attire


The jacket is worn both in daily life and celebrations. The Suiti women have three different types of jackets in their wardrobe – the black jacket or vamzis, Suiti jacket and summer jacket. Each of them is short and covers only the skirt bodice part (the top).


The Suiti festive attire includes the black broadcloth jacket (called vamzis) with coloured yarn and beads embroidered. Usually it was made from a woollen fabric, woven as plain cloth or tick, in black, deep blue or grey colour. The beautiful embroidery is formed, using the “witch” stitch or cross-stich with yarn in red, green, yellow or deep blue colour. The embroidery is made along the jacket fastening, frontal lower edge, chest-line and sleeve edges (see p. 141-144). Elongated embroidered fastening part is typical for vamzis. Earlier, linen was used for jacket padding, but nowadays cotton and padding textile are used instead.
The luxurious band along the jacket fastening and sleeve ends is decorated with embroidery of beads (smeldzes), straws and woollen yarn (see p. 145).
The vamzis is worn over a long shirt with embroidered cuffs, with the posh collar on. Such festive attire is complemented also with dūrgali or mauči.

Regarding the origins of the described jacket, Matīss Siliņš wrote in 1931: “Vamzis, vamze is not that ancient piece of local costume. The title and all its nature implies, it may have emerged during the European Middle Age. The first function – an armour –the warrior’ chest guard of tight cut. This type of vamzis was a part of common knight’s armour, by putting it on under the chain-armour. Having lost the function of armour, the vamzis remained as a part of decent piece of costume.”

Red Suiti jackets

The red Suiti jackets were used at celebrations, as well as on a daily basis. They are woven from a fine red woollen thread with colourful threads (green, pink, white and red) woven in rhythmically. The red jackets are decorated with embroidery and patches of velvet and colourful bands sewn at the fastening place, lower edge and sleeve ends. The red jackets can be worn in two ways – over the long short with embroidered cuffs and decorated collar, or without it. At celebrations dūrgali or mauči are added.

Summer jackets

Beautiful as they are, the summer or colourful jackets were supposed to be worn, when working. They are made from thin, usually monochrome or speckled (with flower pattern) cotton textile. They are sewn according to the Suiti jacket pattern and decorated with embroidery and patches of colourful bands along the fastening place and lower edge and sleeve cuffs. To make the jacket classier, its edge was ornamented by colourful little triangles, made from folded fabric slips (see p. 152). The jackets were lined with linen or cotton fabric. Under the jacket, a long sleeveless shirt is worn, not the long shirt with embroidered cuffs and decorated collar. Neither are dūrgali or mauči added.