Every region of the world comes with its own unique flavour: whether we’re talking about language, lifestyle, cuisine or costume.
To travel is to discover these differences and revel in them. So, let’s take a short journey around the world and look at something that’s bound to make you wonder why your wardrobe is so boring! Here’s a look at seven unique traditional dresses in the world.
One of the most colourful traditional dress in the world come from an indigenous group in South America called the Quechuas. Commonly worn in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia, the most iconic part of this costume would be the unique hats. Another striking part of this costume is the poncho, which has now become a part of mainstream clothing, and these are worn by both men and women. The ponchos mostly come in red and are adorned with mesmerizing and intricate patterns. The Quechuas have got something right: their traditional dresses pop!
- Croatian dress:
This dazzling dress is part of the traditional clothes worn by Croats that reside in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and small parts of Hungary, Romania and Montenegro. It is considered the Croatian national costume. These traditional dresses are typically worn during special events like ethnic festivals, holidays, weddings and other celebrations. The basic attire is made up of a plain white blouse or dress. Now comes the interesting part. Every add-on to this dress has been influenced by other regional traditional dresses and they vary drastically in style according to the geographical location of the wearers. There are four main styles: Dinaric, Coastal, Pannonian style of the north and that of the east. The usual add-ons are a decorative over-skirt and jacket, scarf, apron and shawl. Women are also usually adorned with jewellery and wear a headscarf. The men, on the other hand, wear loose slacks and white shirts, along with decorative jackets and a cap.
The traditional dress of Armenia represents a culture that is as diverse as it is rich. These traditional dresses have been influenced by migrants and invaders alike, along with a little inspiration from the Turkish, Persian and Mediterranean civilizations. The traditional dresses for women are loose and were originally made with wool until production of silk began in the country. They are heavily embroidered and worn with ornate jewellery. Flamboyant headdresses, veils and shawls are also commonly worn. The traditional dresses are paired with knitted socks and traditional shoes called “drekh”, which are boat-shaped. A beautiful costume that really takes your breath away!
A kaftan or boubou is the most commonly worn of all traditional dresses for women in Western Africa. It’s basically an ankle-length pullover robe. The kaftan originated in ancient Mesopotamian society and has several regional variations. For women in West Africa, the robes of their traditional dresses come in bright, stunning colours and captivating patterns, and they are usually paired with headscarves of a similar colour. The loose-fitting fabric of their traditional dresses gives people a respite from the heat and gets full points on the comfort scale. Maybe this is why the kaftan has also been adopted into Western fashion!
How can any list of beautiful traditional dresses be complete without a mention of the sari! Worn over an underskirt called a petticoat, the sari itself consists of cloth that can be anywhere between five to eight meters in length. It’s wrapped around the waist with the end draped over the shoulder. The dress is worn in parts of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Saris are worn in different styles depending on the region and come in a variety of materials and designs. These traditional dresses are versatile and can be worn during formal functions as well as on a daily basis.
The sinh is a lovely traditional dress worn by the women of Thailand and Laos. It is basically a silk tube skirt that has been designed in bright colours and simple patterns. While the women of Thailand wear the sinh during special events, Lao women have made this dress a part of their daily attire. These traditional dresses are composed of three parts: hua sinh (waistband; tucked in), phuen sinh (the body; usually comes in only one or two colours), tin sinh (hem; detailed and arresting). The style with which a sinh is worn can even indicate where the wearer hails from.
The national costume of Vietnam is called the “ao dai” and consists of a long, tight-fitting silk tunic in bright hues and patterns and plain, loose pants. Vietnamese men wear its counterpart, the ao gam, on traditional occasions as well. It’s more commonly worn in southern Vietnam. The ao dai’s history dates back to the 18th century when it was worn by aristocrats. Its modern look arose in the 1920s when it appeared at a Paris fashion show. It is one of the few Vietnamese words that have made it to English dictionaries! This lovely dress is associated with innocence, femininity, modesty and refinement.
Do you have a unique clothing style in your community that you think deserves the world’s attention? Do share with us in the comment section.