Trousers, waistcoat and jacket: for centuries these were the holy trinity for every man. And it was no different for men in Zeeland in the twentieth century. In this period, every village had its own tailor who knew the local men and their bodies. He made suits to order and finished off his work with his characteristic signature in the form of a unique stitch. A Zeeland man’s suit is made from sturdy, long-lasting fabric, as black and grey as the local clay. Strong and resistant for hard work, sober for Sundays and flamboyant for a party, complete with ‘bling-bling’.

In the exhibition Suited and Booted, each suit tells the story of its owner. Despite their almost identical shape, the suits exhibit a world of differences. How they have been used is visible in the traces of wear and tear and repairs. Who was the man who lived in this suit? His suit betrays his role in society, his faith and his work. The construction and its state of distress give the suit its unique look.

Traditional Zeeland costume hasn’t been worn since 2000. With the exception of enthusiasts for Zeeland’s history, the traditional men’s suit has disappeared from Zeeland’s streets. Until…

The picture at the top was made by Jaap Scheeren. Its design is by Hans Gremmen.