Apron dress

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The dress worn over a tunic by Norse women is often called an apron dress, however it is also known as a suspended dress, hanging dress, pinafore, Hängerock, Trägerrock (both German), Hängselkjol (Swedish), or the Old Norse word proposed by Thor Ewing: smokkr.

The apron dress is often described as a controversial garment, primarily for two reasons: because there are so few textile remains that can be used to reconstruct from, and that there simply does not seem to be one universally-worn dress throughout the Viking-age world.

Essentially, these reconstructions can be divided in to two general categories -- closed dresses, where the top of the dress is a tube, and wrapped dresses where the dress is essentially a panel that is wrapped around the body. All of these dresses, however, were sewn with narrow, looped straps that were held in place with a pair of broaches.

A style that is still occasionally seen at SCA events, that has been largely discredited by researchers, is a dress made of two discrete panels that do not overlap, worn at the front and back of the body. They are held together with straps over the shoulders and sometimes a belt. This style is sometimes described pejoratively as a 'tea towel' apron dress.

Closed Dresses

The best known of this style of apron dress is the so-called 'Heddeby' style, based around a 10th century woollen rag fragment found acting as caulking of a Viking-age ship in southern Denmark (today, Northern Germany). It is believed to have formed part of a dress that was fitted at the waist and decorated with narrow braid.

Other interpretations include a peplos-like dress with straps, or a dress with a pleated front (seen at the National Museum of Denmark).

Wrapped Dresses

A wrapped rectangular panel style, open at the side, is believed to have been worn in Swedish Birka, alongside a similar dress where two aprons were interleaved. Another reconstruction from a Yorkshire burial is open between the tortoise broaches, the gap covered with a narrow apron.

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