Education Through National Costumes
National costumes help preserve a country's heritage and educate people about their history. Understanding what makes up a national costume can spread those purposes to the far corners of the globe.
The hanbok, which translates to "Korean clothing," is the traditional dress of Korea and is now worn in festivals, celebrations, and other special occasions. For women, the hanbok consists of a jeogori, or long-sleeve blouse, and a chima, or skirt. The traditional dress for Korean men is made up of a longer top with loose-fitting pants known as paji.
Mexican Mariachi Costumes
Mexico has several styles of clothing that could be considered national costumes. One of the most popular is the Charro suit and sombrero ensemble most often worn today by Mariachi bands. the suit consists of a heavily embroidered jacket and matching pants often worn over a cotton shirt.
Women in many different cultures in Mexico wear the traditional huipil. This is a loose, rectangular garment with a hole at the top for the head. Depending upon the length, it can be worn loose, or tucked into a skirt and belted.
The huipil is made of very light, sheer cotton and is meant to be comfortable to wear.
Lederhosen and Dirndl
In Austria and Bavaria, lederhosen are a traditional costume for men. Often paired with suspenders, these leather shorts were once worn by working class men, but are now reserved for festivals and special occasions.
The traditional dress for women in those regions is a dirndl, a simple dress consisting of blouse, skirt, apron and bodice.
National Costumes of Greece
Greece has a rich history, so it's only fitting that it has a diverse collection of national costumes. Although shown here with a flowered headband, the waistcoat and skirt were often paired with a small hat called a fez.
The national costumes for men include the fustanella, which is a pleated skirt with a white shirt, and the vraka, a white shirt paired with loose trousers.
Romanian Holiday Dress
The traditional dress for Romanian women consists of a long chemise covered by a vest and belted at the waist. For special occasions and holidays, the national dress is accentuated with elaborate silk embroidery as shown here.
Men wear a similar belted chemise over trousers.
Although it has gone through small changes through the years, the basics of the Finnish traditional costume were set in the 1500s. For women, it consists of a long, loose skirt worn with a loose cotton blouse and a vest or short jacket. For special occasions, scarves and headgear are added. Men wear knee-length trousers, shirt, vest and long socks.
Russian national costumes are made for both beauty and function and are loose to allow for ease of movement.
For women, this consists of ornate and heavily embroidered dresses, while the traditional dress of men is the calf-length wool coat, which is often heavily embroidered and fur trimmed, black boots and cylindrical dark wool Cossack hat, also trimmed with fur.
Traditional Scottish Outfit
The knee-length pleated kilt is characteristic of Scottish costumes, and is often made of tartan - one clan's specialized fabric- for even more symbolism.
A sporran, a furry pouch worn around the waist, and knee socks are other classic parts of the Scottish costume.
Uzbek National Clothing
The traditional dress of the women of Uzbekistan consists of a long, loose, colorful tunic over loose-fitting, gathered pants. A coat in complementary colors is often added.
The traditional dress for Uzbek men is made up of a long, loose robe, called a chapan, adorned with a decorative braid.
Traditional Dress of Morocco
The traditional dress for both Moroccan men and women is the djellaba, a long, hooded robe with long, full sleeves.
In some regions, this robe is more than just decorative; it is also used to convey marital status.
The Kimono is the national dress of Japan, worn on formal occasions. It consists of a long undergarment called a nagajuban, a sash called an obi, a obiage, which holds the obi up, baggy sleeves and a richly colored overdress.
Both men and women wear the kimono.
The traditional dress of Norway for both men and women is called the bunad. The bunad dress or coat is usually made of wool.
The men's pants are also made of wool, but which has been pressed rather than woven. The bunad is worn over a cotton shirt.
In the Zulu culture, the traditional dress consists of the amaShoba, which are cow tails worn on the upper arms and lower legs, the IsiNene or front apron which is made of skin patches, and the iBeshu or rear apron, which is made of calf skins.
Married men also wear a headband circling the head.
Baiana Women of Salvador
In Salvador, the traditional Bahian dress is worn by baiana women. It consists of a turban, bright skirts that are heavily starched, a shawl over the shoulders and a large amount of jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces.
Seminole clothing is extremely colorful, made up of a patchwork of many different strips of color and cloth. Seminole women traditionally wore a floor length skirt, tied at the waist with a blouse that had an attached cape. Seminole men wore a simple, full-cut shirt with a colorful coat embellished with ruffles over it during the cold months.
Traditional Aleut Coat
The traditional coat worn by the Aleut people consisted of parkas that went to below the knee. Women wore seal skin or sea otter, while the men wore bird skin - the feathers could be worn in or out.
Aleut men going hunting would frequently adorn their coat with embroidery, sea lion whiskers and other ornaments to show their respect.
The national dress of China is the cheongsam for woman. It's a close fitting, one-piece dress made in bright colors or patterns. The male version is called a changshan, and looks like a long shirt.
The traditional dress of the Hmong people varies dramatically based upon which tribe is wearing it. The Flower Hmong, for example, wear brightly colored and richly embroidered clothing, which often has a beaded fringe. The clothing is worn in layers such as a jacket that wraps across the shoulders, or a tunic worn over a long-sleeved shirt. Girls and woman typically wear brightly patterned skirts as well.
Traditional Clothing of India
Traditional Indian clothing may be worn every day, or for special occasions such as weddings. For women, this consists of a sari, a long piece of cloth usually heavily embroidered or patterned draped over a simple or fancy blouse. Men wear long sheets of white cloth known as a dhoti over a t-shirt or other comfortable clothing.
The national clothing for men and boys in the Ukraine consists of a shirt that is embroidered down the front and around the cuffs. This is paired with loose, often satin or highly decorative pants and tied at the waist with a brightly colored cloth.
Women and girls in the Ukraine also wear heavily embroidered blouses, often with a coordinating vest or jacket on top. This is paired with a colorful, full skirt that may feature matching embroidery or patterns found on the blouse and jacket.
Many Arab women wear an abaya. The word abaya means cloak, and the garment is meant to cover the woman from head to foot.
There are two types of abaya: one is a large square of cloth that is worn draped over the head and shoulders, the other is a type of caftan that reaches to the floor. The abaya is meant to cover the woman completely, with the exception of the face.
The national dress in most Arab countries for men consists of the thawb. It's made of a long tunic with the sleeves and collar stiffened, and it is often embroidered.
Women may also wear the thawb, although it's usually more heavily embroidered down the front panel.
National costumes reflect individual cultures and help forge an appreciation for what makes each nation unique.
Whether it is for a Halloween costume, an ethnic festival, a school report, a touring national dance troupe or just to honor your cultural roots, a national costume is a great way to express a connection to a specific nation, as long as you wear it in a respectful manner.