Jelsa is a small town in South West Norway. It’s a minimum 3 hour drive (depending on ferries) from Norway’s 4th largest city.
Jelsa is interesting in this context only because Crown Princess Mette-Marit has a national costume from there.
Last week, I talked about how the wearer of the bunads tend to have a connection to the place the bunads are from. In Rogaland, the majority of the bunads tend to look alike in style. It is the embroidery patterns that are different. Generally, for the bigger cities, the connection tend to be to Rogaland, and not to the specific place the pattern origined. For smaller places, they might have a different, more specific, costume.
Mette-Marit’s mother, Marit Tjessem, is from Sandnes in Rogaland. Mette-Marit, who grew up in Kristiansand, got a national costume from Rogaland for her religious confirmation, instead of Vest Agder. Norwegian girls tend to get the bunads as a gift for their confirmations, if they want it, and their families can afford it.
A bunad is probably the most festive outfit in Norway. In status, it is equivalent to a gala outfit for big events as well as familiar happenings. For example: Mette-Marit wore her bunad for Marius’ christening.
During the engagement, she wore it when she and Haakon visited the folk museum in Valdres.
She regularly wears the Jelsa bunad. Last major public event she wore it for was the National Day last year, when she and the rest of the family greeted the children’s parade at Skaugum. (At the link you can also see a picture of teenaged Mette-Marit wearing the same bunad.)
As the mother of three, Mette-Marit is still wearing the same bunad that she wore when she was 15. She is clearly not the same size anymore. The secret is that bunads tend to be made slightly big for the 15 year old, but also made with (large) inseams that can be let out as needed.
Even so, the most common topic around the Norwegian tables or magazines, before a big event or May 17, is probably if the bunad has “shrunk” since last year, and the women trying to eat sensibly to fit into it…