What is an "ie" you might ask. Generally known under the name of "Romanian blouse", the ie is a traditional garment worn by locals, especially in the country side, as part of the national folk costume. It became very popular thanks to important personalities wearing it throughout the ages (queens of Romania, artists of today and painters and muses of yesterday). Entirely handmade, one authentic blouse can take months to finish and has unique patterns embroided on to the sleeves, front and back. Design and colours differ according to the region of the country, the age of the person that wears it, and the purpose of the blouse (wedding, celebrations, daily use). It's an awsome item to have in your wardrobe and a cool souvenir to bring back home with you if you travel in the country of the "ie".
It can be a real challenge though, to find an authentic blouse in Bucharest, especially on a budget. Most souvenir shops in the city-center sell overpriced modern reinterpretations of the traditional blouse or just simple new blouses that don't hold much of the value of the authentic ones created centuries ago. I looked for the best places to find something authentic that can become an investment rather than a random expense. Wearing such a blouse tells a nice story of the past and gives a charm, that no other piece of clothing can achieve. Since I own a couple of them myself, and whenever I wear them I get asked about their provenience, now I have the perfect opportunity to share some of my discoveries with you! :)
I'm suggesting 3 options of shops which offer a nice selection of authentic and unique pieces. The Romanian Blouse can be found in two versions, short and casual - would be worn with a different bottom layer - or the long blouses, looking like dresses. In all three locations you will find the full costume, in case you wanna dress up in full Romanian spirit. Inside these shops you'll also find other types of tradtional Romanian items, not just clothing, but pottery and other handmade goods. A true joy for all those inspired by folk culture and traditions.
This charming shop recreates the cozy athmosphere of a peasent's house, having nice paintings, religious symbols and traditional carpets up on the walls. Located very close to Romana Square, hidden on a side street, the shop doesn't look very flashy from outside, but if you step in it's a wonderful universe to uncover. The name of the shop is inspired by the sentiment of missing / longing for Romania, a unique word "dor" that describes this feeling in the shape of a noun.
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 11.00 - 20.00, Saturday 11.00 - 17.00 Sunday closed
Prices: going from 800 Ron up, meaning around 170 euros / 200 dollars
Closer to University Square, right next to Cocor shopping center, you'll find a big souvenir shop that hides a great selection of traditional costumes in their last room. All colors and sizes, skirts and belts included, are available in their stash. This is one of the largest souvenir shops I discovered in the city center and it's one who tries to bring a large variety of goods to visitors. The Boutique won't dissapoint you as it's an entertaining place to shop for all sorts of random items.
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 9.00 - 21.00, Saturday / Sunday closed
Prices: 400 - 800 Ron, meaning 85 - 170 euros / 100 - 200 dollars
I knew that museums, especially the Peasent's museum should be a safe choice to go shopping for the blouse. Easy-peasy assumption backed-up by reality. Not only that they have by far the largest stock of authentic blouses, they have the best prices and the greatest variety of folk products. Needless to mention that it's inside of an exciting museum (currently under renovation) which has a traditional Romanian restaurant as a perfect bonus!
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10.00 - 18.00
Prices: starting from 200 Ron, meaning 42 euro / 50 dollars
EXTRA: hunt the fairs!
Public street fairs are organized quite often in Bucharest, especially throughout the warm season. Here you'll find people traveling from the countryside and bring along authentic collections of blouses from their villages to the city
The pictures below are taken in Amzei square, next to the fresh public fruit and vegetable market.