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Vyshyvanka is a kind of traditional clothing in Ukraine. It is a part of the Ukrainian national costume, and also a piece of clothing often recreated in the modern fashionable version. 

What does a Ukrainian shirt look like?

Traditionally, vyshyvanka is a hand-made blouse sewn of natural materials and embroidered with threads of various colours. Most often, the frontal part of the shirt and sleeves are embroidered. 

Traditional clothes of the Poltava region
Photo: Dominika Dyka for Treti Pivni
Traditional clothes of the Poltava region
Photo: Dominika Dyka for Treti Pivni

Ukrainians believe embroidery has a talisman meaning — the power to protect a person from all harm and bring good luck. Since ancient times, Ukrainians have created various patterns, techniques, and methods of dyeing threads. This knowledge was passed on to the next generations, that is why the embroidery varies depending on the region, and even different villages have their special and unique patterns, styles, and colours of Ukrainian traditional clothing. The most common ornaments are geometrical, which have a sacral meaning, and floral & animalistic patterns, that show respect and gratitude to nature. 

Even though vyshyvanka was an everyday type of clothes, Ukrainians created special designs for special life events, like weddings, holidays, or funerals with the corresponding to the occasion symbolic patterns and colours.  

This map shows the popular patterns of each region of Ukraine
Visual: Qypchak/WikiCommons

Since Ukraine restored its independence in 1991, vyshyvanka became super popular again. If you wonder how to wear a vyshyvanka, the answer is quite simple. Today Ukrainians rock it with jeans, shorts and trousers, skirts and costumes — and it looks nice with everything! We choose this shirt for big celebrations, business meetings, or casual walks around the park. 

Vyshyvanka-style dress by Vita Kin
Photo: Adam Katz Sinding

These days, Ukrainian fashion designers get inspired by ancient motifs and silhouettes and create unique clothes that conquer the hearts of the fashion community worldwide. 

Ukrainian designers make vyshyvanka great again! Vita Kin is world-famous for her diverse designs of vyshyvanka dress. Yuliia Magdych mixes traditional embroidery with modern silhouettes. Etnodim creates new patterns of embroidery inspired by Ukrainian painters, literature professionals, and current events. 

Designers Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano from Dior, Frida Giannini from Gucci, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli from Valentino presented collections inspired by Ukrainian ethnic motifs. Pablo Picasso, Madonna, Mila Kunis, Maye Musk, Dita Von Teese, Queen Letizia of Spain, Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Queen of Jordan Rania Al-Abdullah, Demi Moore, Chiara Ferragni, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, Jim Morrison, Richard Branson, Jackie Chan, and many more amazing people integrate embroidered dresses and shirts into their wardrobes.

Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose by Elizabeth Cowling, Pablo Picasso, and Roland Penrose
The Doors in Beverly Hills, California, 1966
Photo: Guy Webster

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