There is no absolute certainty about the origins of the Madeiran traditional costume; we think that it has been influenced by the Portuguese colonizers, especially the ones from Minho, and by the Moors, Africa and Flanders.
In Madeira the marketing of fabrics was a very lucrative business, especially for English merchants. The island served as a residence for many British and was influenced by the customs of various people as it was one of the most visited ports in the world. Therefore, it is difficult to specify precisely what are the determinants of the ‘Vilhão Costume' that is still used today by the regional folk groups and by the flower sellers at the Farmers Market and in some streets of the capital.
In the female costume the colour red predominates. In the municipality of Ponta do Sol, married and single women wore red capes and widows wore blue capes. In Machico and Santa Cruz, the garments were composed of a wool skirt, coloured or striped, a vest, a red bodice and a blue cap.
On the other hand the male costume, which comprises white shorts ruffled over the knee and a shirt with pleats that can be embroidered or not, does not vary in different areas.
The boots, which are called “botachas” or “bota-chã”, are made of tanned cow skin, adorned with a red ribbon and were used by men and women alike. In some suits, boys wear an ear beret, a common artifact in craft stores that are now popular as souvenirs.