Men’s trousers

The earliest form of men’s trousers were strips of leather wrapped around each leg from the ankle upwards. Later strips of cloth were used. In some regions the tops of the 2 legs were drawn together by a belt 4cm to 6cm wide (brăcinarul), made of leather or hemp cord worn low on the hips. The fabric used for making trousers was usually white, although the type and thickness used depended on the season. The fabric (dimie or aba) used for making winter trousers was fulled to make it thicker. These trousers were usually tight and called cioareci or nădragi . Summer trousers made of thin wool or linen could be tight (ițari or izmene), or wide (gaci). Both thick and thin trousers were made from a single piece of fabric cut into various sized rectangles. The cut differed from region to region, as do the names used for trousers worn in summer and winter. In the south east dark trousers became fashionable from 19th century. These were called poturi, nădragi, dimii or șalvari.

Tight winter trousers – cioareci or nădragi

In some mountain regions tight woollen leggings called tureci, were worn by men and women and certain theories say these were the prototypes of the cioareci. Cioareci were worn in most ethnographic zones of Romania in winter. They are made of white woollen cloth (dimie or aba) although the cut varies from zone to zone. There are two main types of cioareci, each with many variants.

The most common type is made of a width of material for each leg and one for the crutch. These are found in a large area of the Carpathians Mountains, Moldavia, North Muntenia and south Transylvania. The shape of the crutch varied with the original square being replaced with a broader piece of fabric to give added comfort. The top edge is folded to make a hem 4cm to 5cm wide through which  a hemp cord or leather belt (cureaua) or narrow leather belt (brãcinar) is threaded

The second type of cioareci uses a single piece of woven fabric, which forms both legs and a gusset. These are found in zones of Alba, Târnave, Brașov, Făgăraș and Romanați. This type has similarities to trousers worn further south as far as Albania.

In the South and Moldavia trousers are worn over boots or shoes whereas in Transylvania they are tucked into the tops of the boots.

The amount and style of decoration on cioareci depends on the regional style. The majority of the decoration is on the upper parts of the trousers around the pockets, and front. Trousers worn with boots did not have any decoration on the lower part whereas those worn with spats had decoration down the legs accenting the cut of the trousers and round the hems or turn-ups. Decoration is made with appliquéd braid or coloured materials in the same style as the local suman or with embroidery with wool or silk.

Long Creased Trousers – ițari 

Moldavian ițari are a variant of the cioareci which used to be found in all of Moldavia. These are made of țigaie (a special breed of sheep wool), and cotton woven on four heddles. Each leg is made of cloth pieces 2 meters long which were worn with the legs “rolled up” so the material formed up to 101 creases from the knee to the ankle. Ițarii for summer wear are made of “pânza de sac” (bulky cotton).

Thin summer trousers – izmene

Gura Râului, Sibiu

Izmene are trousers worn in summer and made in white homespun material (white linen, hemp or cotton and occasionally in Moldavia very finely spun wool) with the same cut as cioareci. The style and size varies from zone. They are decorated with appliquéd lace and braid (brânașe) or thin strips of cloth or black, red or blue braid was sewn along the lines of the seams, pockets and hems. In Banat, Muntenia, Oltenia, Dobrogea the folds of cloth are joined with decorative stitches called “Cheița” (little keys) and the lower hems are edged with lace.

Izmene was also the name given to cloth trousers worn under cioareci in certain areas.

Wide summer trousers – gaci

Valea Stejarului, Maramureș

Gaci is an old Slavic word. These wide linen trousers were worn in Maramureș, Oaș, Bihor, Arad and also in Slovakia, Carpathian areas of Ukraine, parts of Hungary, North Serbia and Slovenia. They were made of cloth woven in hemp, cotton or cotton with hemp, using 2 heddles. Each leg was formed of 2 (or more) widths of cloth joined by using decorative white crocheted stitches called “cheițe” (little keys) up to 1.5″ wide. The length of these trousers was between knee and ankle length depending on the region. The top edge was folded over to make a hem “obada” through which laces were threaded then tied round the waist to hold up the trousers. The lower edges were decorated with either fringes “roit” made by the warp threads or white crocheted lace.

Dark woollen “baggy” trousers – poturi, nădragi or dimii

Poturi trousers

During 19th century in Bulgaria men’s clothes made of dark wool began to take over in popularity from white clothes and this style also spread to south east Romania to Câmpia Munteniei and Dobrogea. Trousers, waistcoats and jackets were made from brown or black sheep’s wool or wool dyed black, brown or dark blue by tailors in workshops in villages or towns, rather than by women at home. The trousers made in this cloth are fitted below the knees but are wide from the knees upwards especially over the hips and are gathered into the waist with a draw string or buttoned up at the front. These trousers have many different names depending on the village. In Bulgaria, and some villages in Romania, they are called poturi or cheshiri which comes from the Turkish name for full-bottomed breeches, indicating the origin of this style. In other villages Romanian names such as nădragi, dimii, dulvarii, berneveci, pârpâți or ițari are used. Trousers of this cut are also found in Greece, Cyprus, Albania, Serbia and Macedonian. These trousers are made from four widths of fabric (dimie or aba) woven on four heddles, but not fulled in order to keep the cloth suppler. One and a half widths are used for each leg, and one width for the seat. The front and back are the same in cut and in size, without a “fly”. The waist is gathered and folded over to enclose a “brăcinarul” (cord). They are usually decorated with black silk braid around the side pockets and along the lower edges. Occasionally blue or red braid is used.

Șailvari (variant of the “baggy” trousers)

Șalvari is the name given to a very wide style of poturi, which was a later development of this style of trousers. They were made of factory manufactured black, brown or dark blue cloth and were found in Bulgaria, as well as in Câmpie Munteniei and Dobrogea. They were decorated with ornaments of factory made black braid. The name shalvar is used for trousers worn by Muslims.

Modern style dark trousers

Hungarian and Saxon men living in Romania wore modern cut dark trousers around 18th century with their shirts tucked into their trousers.

Region Summary
Lugoj, Banat Izmene – woollen trousers decorated with heavy black braid, in the same style as  waistcoats.
Bihor Gacii – worn in summer were worked in rough cloth for everyday work and finer cloth for festive clothes. They are made of 4 widths of cloth for old men and 5 for bachelors and young men. They were held up by brăcinăriță – a cord made of plaited hemp or cotton.
Arad Cioareci – tight fitting (Hungarian style) decorated with braiding and coloured appliqué worn in winter. Narrow calf length Gacii worn in summer.
Maramureș, Oaș, Crișana
Maramureș In Maramureș, gaci are called gatii and made of rough cloth and are more narrow and longer than those from Oaș. The pieces of fabric are joined with ‘cheițe’ sewn in white, and  fringes are made from  the warp threads on the lower edges.
Oaș Very full gathered linen trousers called ‘gacii’ – The lower edges are decorated with “roit” fringes made of warp threads and “brazi” sewn in colours. In winter thick cioareci are worn decorated with red and black braid.
Țara Lapușului Gaci are sewn in 5 widths of cloth for festive costume, and 4 widths for work clothes.
North Transylvania
Bistrița – Năsăud Cioareci – white woollen trousers worn tucked into boots.
Haromszek Mens cioareci – tight frieze trousers made of home made cloth (fawn or white colour). Since 1764 when Mounted Boundary Defence Division of the Szekelys was organised by Maria –Theresa the uniform worn had become the national costume, but without the yellow colour.
Csik Cioareci – white tight woollen frieze trousers, Braid on trousers used to be red, but now is usually shop bought black braid.
South Transylvania
Pădureni Cioareci – white woollen trousers.
Târnave and Alba, Petroșani Cioareci were decorated with subtle motifs, sewn in wool, cotton or silk or coloured stripes were woven into the fabric.
Mărginimea Sibiului Cioareci – white woollen trousers in winter, izmene – white linen trousers in summer
Oltenia In Gorj, Dolj and Romanați cioareci are heavily decorated in black, navy blue or violet woollen braid patterns similar to those used for the fabric waistcoats, chintuș.
Dolj Cioareci – made of white cloth, and not decorated worn in winter.
Izmene – worn in summer.
Romanați Cioareci – white woollen trousers.
Gorj Cioareci – White woollen with black braid and piping appliquéd. This style of dress is based on uniforms worn by soldiers in the 1821 peasant revolt led by Tudor Vladimirescu.
Olt Cioareci – white or black woollen.
Câmpia Munteniei, Vlașca Poturi – blue, black or brown baggy woollen trousers worn.
Teleorman East
Zona Oltului
Dark nădragi decorated with blue or black braid.
White cioareci.
Dobrogea Poturi or șalvari worn most frequently, sometimes narrow cioareci made of white aba.
Moldavia – North
Suceava Bernevici – trousers made of fulled white woollen cloth, woven in 4 heddles, with a special cut, worn creased along the legs. In other parts of Moldavia “Bernevicii” are worn without creases.
Suceava – zones of Rădăuți and Fălticeni Ițari made of pânza woven in 5 or 6 heddles with geometric decoration.
Iași Ițari, very long and creased as wound round legs.
Moldavia – Central & South
Neamț – Basin Dornelor, Bacău Ițarii drepții or with little creases were worn.
Gyimes Tight linen trousers in summer, tight frieze trousers in winter both worn over socks.
Vrancea Ițari, worn in winter were very long and creased as wound round legs.
Thin summer trousers (Izmene)
Published on 15th December 2017, last modified on 25th February 2018