The traditional Cretan costume which we know today is little worn for daily use now. But at many festivals and formal occasions you will see men and women dressed in the complicated woven and embroidered outfits that were developed after the 16th century.
Female attire has two basic types.
The ‘Sfakiani’-style is the most widespread throughout the whole island: it is made up of a pleated and embroidered dress, embroidered apron, the maitani (a jacket with long sleeves) or the ‘salamarka’ (an embroidered but sleeveless jacket) – all over a silk blouse. An embroidered silk kerchief (mandili) on the head and various jewellery and coins on the chest complete the get-up.
The other style, the ‘Anogiani’, appeared in the mid-17th century. It essentially echoes the Sfakaiana, but has a pair of breeches under the skirt.
Common throughout the island, it too may have two versions.
One was for everyday use, a casual outfit: it consists of black linen breeches (seen all over the Aegean), the shirt, the maitanogeleko (a sleeved jacket) and a long sash wrapped around the middle a number of times (a cummerbund in effect). The get-up is completed by a pair of knee-high black leather boots (stivania) and a knitted kerchief (mandili) on the head.
The smart or official variant of this, the ‘salvaria’, is made of a blue felt of good quality. This set comprises pleated breeches, the maitanogeleko (this time richly embroidered), an embroidered silk shirt, the long sash (red in colour now) and the boots (of white leather). The obligatory mantili completed the outfit, along with a chain hung around the neck... it was attached to a knife, which was carried thrust into the folds of the belt at the waist.
These days the traditional garb has been replaced by a simplified version – mainly seen on the older males in a village: it is made up from black or khaki culottes, a black shirt, boots and the indispensible kerchief.