The basic structure of Romanian folk costume remained simple, which meant that the number of layers of garments worn was less than in the surrounding countries. This meant that the beauty of the costume was based on the finesse of the decoration of each garment. The actual decoration was influenced by fashion over time, the most elaborate garments being made around the end of 19th century and first years of 20th century. Patterns were either woven into the fabric on the loom or were hand embroidered. Lace, braid, beads; sequins or tassels were often also added.
Embroidered motifs – cusătură (seam), broderie (embroidery) – are used to decorate costume items made from hemp, linen, cotton, silk or woollen cloth cloth. The embroidered decoration could be functional or merely ornamental, with the combination of types used varying from district to district. The oldest embroidery designs were thought to be based on the geometric patterns used in weaving for many centuries and were geometric counted thread designs (including floral and animal patterns adjusted to fit cross-stitch). This type of embroidery was characteristic of older patterns used throughout south Eastern Europe and Slovakia. In the latter half of 19th century freestyle non-geometric floral motifs were introduced. These are more commonly found in the north and western part of central and Eastern Europe. Over the centuries there was frequent borrowing and sharing of motifs between regions and zones, and between urban and rural areas. In general the decoration became more elaborate reaching its zenith around 1900, with many different techniques often being used on a single garment, or household textile.