Community dressing – Develop your personal costume

In this masterclass, you learn about how to create your personal costume. Guided by designer Theodorus Johannes, you will look for techniques, shapes, motifs and colours that give your clothes a symbolic value. We take a closer look at how you dress yourself to discover your method of self-expression. You will investigate how your ancestors dressed and how you can convert that into (clothing) designs that you can apply to your own wardrobe.

What is needed to integrate culture or symbolism into a piece of clothing? How can you make clothes that reveal where you come from, what kind of environment you live in or show which group you belong to? After years of researching Dutch regional costumes, Theodorus Johannes has developed a design method that allows you to create your own traditional costume with the clothes you own and the clothes you make.

We start the day with a presentation by Theodoor, followed by an open discussion with all participants. During this conversation, each participant is invited to share why they wear the clothes they wear, to help each other find the symbolism that may already be hidden in their clothes. Because what do our clothes actually communicate? What do we want our clothes to say about us?

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In preparation, it is helpful to watch (a few episodes of) Theodoor’s Community Dressing docuseries. The docuseries, plus the bonus material, examine the DNA of our clothes and ask you, the viewer, why we wear what we wear. After seeing the films, it also helps to take a good look at the clothes in your wardrobe. On the day of the masterclass, you bring in the garments that you think say the most about who you are. Based on those items of clothing, we will talk about the emotional connection with your clothes during the course.

The afternoon part of the masterclass is intended to get you started. Theodoor shows you several techniques from the Dutch regional costumes. For example Staphorster Stipwerk, Marker embroidery or the starched ‘kraplappen’ from Bunschoten Spakenburg. For those who want to learn one of these techniques, the afternoon part is available to try them out yourself, or you can look for techniques in other (traditional) costumes that suit you or your family/social environment. Theodoor will assist you in thinking about what your unique costume will look like. You go home with an idea that you can further develop and endless inspiration on how to make your clothes even more personal.

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About Theodorus Johannes
Theodorus Johannes (they/them) is a designer, researcher and storyteller. Since 2017, they have been making the online documentary series ‘Community Dressing’, in which the differences and similarities between Dutch regional costumes and today’s fashion are examined. Theodoor examines fashion as a complex yet powerful form of communication, in which they often highlight themes such as identity and authenticity. Communities, folklore and textile crafts are central to their design practice.


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Practical information:

  • Bring 1-3 cherished items of clothing with you and if possible your own drawing, sewing and embroidery utensils.
  • The language of this masterclass is Dutch or English
  • In preparation, it is helpful to watch (a few episodes of) Theodoor’s Community Dressing docuseries