What Is Cultural Clothing?

Cultural clothing is the traditional clothing of a specific country or cultural group. The specifics vary greatly between different nationalities and ethnicities, but most styles are distinctly different from modern Western clothing styles.

When Do People Wear Cultural and Ethnic Clothing?

In many parts of the world, people wear traditional cultural clothing on a daily basis. However, Western styles are becoming more common all over the world, and cultural clothing now plays more of a ceremonial or religious role in some areas. For example, many people who now wear Western styles on a regular day still wear traditional national costumes for celebrations such as festivals, weddings, and holidays. Specifically, dirndls and lederhosen are common for Oktoberfest, Scottish Highlanders sometimes wear kilts to weddings, and Mexican mariachi musicians wear charro outfits.

Can People from Outside Groups Wear Cultural and Ethnic Clothing?

Some groups accept people from other cultures wearing their traditional clothing during festivals and special events. For example, Germans are often open to foreigners wearing traditional southern German costumes during Oktoberfest. Travel guides often describe the expectations for visitors. It is important to understand the rules before wearing ethnic clothing. Some items of traditional clothing play specific ceremonial roles, and some colors are taboo in certain situations. In some circumstances, cultural clothing is mandatory. For example, many Catholic churches in Greece and Italy require women to wear head coverings inside the buildings, and some religious communities require specific clothing for religious ceremonies.