The clothes we wear are more than just protective. They make a bold statement about who we are, where we come from, and what we aspire to be. Since the beginning of time, people have used clothing to signify social status, celebrate significant events, and communicate either a sense of community or individuality. Many forms of fashion went out of style when newer, more practical options became available, but other garments have remained a noteworthy and influential part of certain cultures for centuries or even millennium. Let’s take a look at traditional clothing from around the world and their significance.
Native American regalia is commonly worn during the powwow, which is a lively and grand celebration of Native American culture and heritage. In general, regalia is made from buckskin and decorated with ribbons, metals, feathers, quills, and beads. The particulars of the outfit, however, vary depending on the kind of dance style one will be participating in when wearing it. The garments worn by the performers of the jingle dance, for example, are unique from the garments worn by a fancy dancer. One may feature feather and porcupine hair roaches, while another features metal cones strung across the cloth. Regalia is normally passed down from generation to generation or sewn by someone close to the dancer. They’re sacred and respected pieces of clothing with a great deal of significance to their owner.
The kimono is another piece of traditional clothing from around the world. Kimonos have a long and intriguing history, but their name actually quite simple—the word kimono means “a thing to wear,” and a thing to wear is exactly what these are. Kimonos are a traditional Japanese garment that are made from tanmono, which is a long and narrow piece of cloth. They’re wrapped in the front and feature large, square-shaped sleeves and a rectangular body. The collar is worn left-over-right, unless the person wearing the kimono is deceased.
The kimono evolved from traditional Chinese clothing that was introduced to the country during the Kofun period. It was worn by both the nobility and commonfolk alike, as both everyday wear and formal wear. Today, the kimono is rarely used as a form of daily dress. Instead, you’re most likely to see individuals wearing it during formal occasions and summertime festivities.
The sari—also spelled as saree—is a dress-like piece of clothing that’s worn in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The garment consists of a colorful, unstitched drape that’s wrapped around the body. There are over 80 ways to drape a sari, with the most traditional form of draping featuring the sari wrapped around the waist and slung over a single shoulder with part of the midriff left exposed.
The history of the sari dates back between 2800 and 1800 BC, when similar garments were worn by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. The modern sari is traditionally worn by women as an everyday clothing item or as formal wear during important events and ceremonies. Despite being originally fashioned from cotton or silk, modern saris can be made from various materials, including synthetic fibers.