Today, very few communities around the world still wear their traditional clothing on a regular basis. Many people have appealed to the “westernized” outfit like jeans and a t-shirt (what I wear, like, every day). These clothes are mass-produced and easily shipped around the world and are usually easier to work in (compared with a long thick skirt for example). These are the people of different cultures and countries around the world that still wear their traditional clothing. If you’re planning on seeing these beautiful clothes in person by traveling to the country that wears them earn frequent flyer miles on sightseeing tours and attractions.
In Pakistan both the traditional clothing called sari and shalwar kameez is worn. The shalwar kameez is more common among everyone in the country, including the Punjabi. Muslim and Hindu practicing people usually wear saris and saris are worn in cities more commonly than anywhere else. These outfits are cotton lightly draped around the person’s body which are warm in the winter and are cool in the summer. Other countries that also wear a sari with India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Indonesia is a series of islands that has dozens if not hundreds of different cultures that all wear different traditional and “westernized” outfits. Lets focus on the kebaya. Now, the kebaya is also worn in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, parts of Thailand, Cambodia, and parts of the Philippines. It’s almost always floral and usually worn with a sarong, made out of silk, cotton, or polyester. It’s the traditional outfit of Indonesia but is mostly worn by the Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese. There are traditionally 3 parts of the outfit, the blouse (kebaya), the brooch (because the original and traditional kebaya has no buttons), and sarong or skirt. It’s made modern by many different styles today and it’s common to see among the people.
Maasai of Kenya
The Maasai aren’t just in Kenya, many are in Tanzania as well. Before the 1960s it was common to wear animal skins that were dyed in different colors (red is a favorite). Today they wear cloth that still has all sorts of colors and patterns. Both men and women wear flowery patterns. The most common outfit is a kanga, a one piece worn over the body.
Wearing beaded jewelry is also common and each color has a different meaning. White means peace, and red means warrior/brave, for a couple of examples. Before European contact the beads were made out of many materials, clay, seeds, bone, etc. Today the beads are mostly made out of glass. Head shaving is also a right of passage for both genders. Even though they use modern materials, it seems like the traditional styles of the Maasai aren’t going anywhere.
Herero of Namibia
I know as soon as I saw these clothes I thought, “These don’t look very traditional at all, it kind of looks like old European fashion.” That’s exactly what the Herero wear today. In the 1800s German missionaries settled in what is now Namibia and like in other colonized places, they decided they had to “civilize these savages” and didn’t approve of people being nearly naked. Among Herero women today it’s still acceptable to wear Victorian styles of dresses. The bigger the dress the better. 3-4 petticoats are worn on a regular basis. The headdress is usually styled like a horn, since cattle are so important to the Herero. Although this practice may be disappearing, as younger ladies only wear this dress on special occasions.
Sami of Sapmi
The Sami live in what is now northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Frozen might have shown you Kristof, who wore all black, but what the Sami wear is the exact opposite of that! Bright colors, intricate patterns, all in different styles is exactly what they wear. It’s called a gakti, and is worn from ceremonies, working, and herding reindeer. Traditionally the gakti was made out of reindeer leather, but today it’s usually made from cotton, wool, or silk. The colors, patterns, and jewelry worn tell where the person is from, if they’re married or not, and can even be specific to the family. Even with new materials being made to wear their traditional clothing, it looks like the Sami are sticking to their bright colors for generations to come.