A country is often recognised by the clothing its people wear. Some countries have a traditional costume like the Scottish kilt, the Korean hanbok, the Punjabi shalwar or the rugged denim jeans worn by cowboys.
Clothing serves as a protective cover against weather whilst also giving the body necessary privacy. Clothes have adapted with time, weather conditions, lifestyle, type of work performed and fashion. Some countries lead the fashions, some strive to keep their traditional dress.
‘Clothes maketh a man. ‘
Clothing speaketh about the country’
Different clothes tell us different stories. They are like pages of history and geography, communicating not only the weather conditions and historical influences, but speaking of finer elements like type of fabric, its colour, artistic weaves etc. For example the varying Ikat designs of Indonesia, Orissa and Cambodia, the Scottish and Irish Tartan checks as compared to those of Chennai, India. Each design is unique to each country. Clothes also tell us about the wearer’s status and work performed. The labourer or street vendor will wear a casual attire , maybe or coarse and durable material as compared to an elite customer who may prefer to dress in more stylish and fancy clothing.
Let’s focus on clothing we see at our local markets. Do they tell us any information about that country?
- The Saree – from India
Who said the saree is a cumbersome, long and uncomfortable piece of clothing? Most women wear this 5 metre colourful cloth ‘the saree’ with ease and aplomb whilst doing a dozen different tasks – driving a scooter, carrying baskets on their head or sweeping the street. Just as the saree can dress up the Indian bride or business executive in expensive silk and chiffon, it is also used by the common woman on the street who would prefer an easy, washable and quick dry fabric.
2. The Kenyan Kanga and Djellaba
Clothes must suit the temperature and weather. Loose flowing fabric is worn in most African and Middle Eastern countries. Some are multi-coloured to distract or highlight the wearer from the harsh sandy environment. Yet, at times soft pastel or earthy, sand colours are used for Kaftan’s in men’s clothing.
3. The Abeya or Burqha worn by Muslim women
The long, black, head to toe Abeya or Burqha is the traditional attire worn by most Muslim women, mostly in the Gulf countries, when they leave home to go outdoors. Men wear the Kandor. This outer garment shields the wearer from the harsh sun and desert sand. An Abeya can be as simple or as stylish! Expensive embroidery, lace work and beads adorn ceremonial wear, and a simple one is worn casually.
4. Chinese Qipao and Cheogsam
The qipao, cheogsam, Mao suit are Chinese clothing styles. A cross collar, the right lapel over the left and a sash around the waist are highlights of this traditional and periodic costume. However, in recent times locals wear them only during festivals, preferring rather to don the shirt/pant/jeans for ease while doing daily tasks.
5. Folk or country costumes
Rural or countryside costumes are rustic in style made from extra durable cotton or denim fabric, especially in colder countries. In Europe women wear long skirt, tight at waist and a loose covering blouse. Different region boast their particular style. Head gear like scarves, caps, hats worn keep out the wind and cold.
6. Headgear from Different Countries.
The Kasbati, the ceki, the fez and finally the soft mulmul white scarf are all typical Turkish headgear, varying through the different historical times. Today, most Turkish women cover their heads with the white scarf ties tight around the head and neck, at times adorned with fancy pins or brooches.
7. The Yemeni and African ‘Kheffiyah’
Men cover their head, tying the chequered cloth in a triangular way. Colours preffered are mostly brown, black, red or cream. One end of the Keffiyah hangs loose over the back. During a sandstorm or intense summer heat, the scarf is used to loosely shield nose and mouth
7. Clothing in Kazhakstan and Countries with Cold Climate
Brrr….rr the cold wind blows in the Northern regions. Keeping warm is necessary as you work indoor or outdoor. Women are covered in head scarf and winter woollens as they sit on the side street in Kazakstan selling bottles of milk.
Winter baazar and street stalls and pushcarts selling winter wear are commonplace in most markets of Europe, New Zealand, China, Nepal and many other countries with cold weather. People working outdoor wear appropriate winter clothing.
……And so the clothing stories go on from one country to another. Designs, fabric pattern, wearing styles. Styles to suit the weather, work and wearer.
What is the particular clothing of your country?
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