Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Wed March 04 2015

Global Style: 5 Unique Cultural Fashion Statements

Features & Advice | Cherese Weekes | March 04, 2015

Global Style: 5 Unique Cultural Fashion Statements

What does your sense of style say about you? Is it simply a personal statement or does it showcase your pride in your country? We have trotted around the globe and found five countries whose fashion trends are so entwined in their identity, you’ll want to leave your jeans and t-shirts at home and adopt the local threads in order to fashionably fit in.

Zambia: Chitenge

From indulging in African cuisine to exploring its diverse attractions, there are plenty of ways to become familiar with Zambia’s culture. But if you want to rub shoulders with a local you might as well colorfully dress like one.

Just about every woman in the culture dresses in a chitenge, which is a beautifully woven fabric worn as a skirt, top, headscarf or used as a sling to carry a baby. Intricately designed with patterns that usually convey deeper meanings of religious and political beliefs, the chitenge has become an artistic display of expression. Thankfully, several shops provide inexpensive samples of the fabric and outfits so visitors can also dress to impress Zambia’s residents.

Guatemala: Huipil

Along with ancient monuments displaying their architectural feats, Mayans have also left imprints of their elaborate style. For generations women have passed down the tradition of creating blouses or dresses called huipil to identify with their tribe, announce their marital status and display their religious beliefs.

Although the process of creating the vibrant decorations of the garment is time-consuming since its patterns and structure are artfully woven at the same time, no important celebration or religious ceremony occurs without someone draped in their fanciest huipil.

Scotland: Kilt

If you have ever wanted to don a kilt and hit the streets, there is no doubt that Scotland is the place to be. But do not dare call this Scottish sartorial trend a skirt, since the burliest of men can be seen wearing this woolen, patterned and pleated garment as a form of patriotism, which even makes appearances during sporting events.

Since the first kilt was created in the 18th century, it wasn’t long before it evolved into a profound fashion statement; so much so, high-end designer companies like Chanel have modeled some of their couture collections after the kilt.

Panama: La Pollera

Thinking of taking a trip to Panama this year? Then you are in for a special treat, especially if you intend on getting all dolled up in a la pollera. Although this huge dress makes a bold impression, you won’t be stopped by the fashion police since it has become a symbol of Panamanian pride traditionally styled with petticoats, ruffles as well as beautiful embroideries, and typically worn as a wedding dress and during celebrations.

But if you really want to stand out as the belle of the ball, adding a few bows or ribbons in your hair and bold jewelry might earn you a nod for best dressed in the eyes of every Panamanian lady.

Japan: Kimono

Even though you are more likely to see someone dressed in a kimono during a special celebration, there’s nothing wrong with ditching your everyday attire for the neatly fitted collared robe. After all, the kimono is highly considered a work of art since it is immaculately accentuated with dye, paintings and skillful embroidery techniques woven into fabrics like silk or polyester.

Several attractions like the Kubota Ichiku Art Museums and the Nishijin Textile Center also proudly embrace this Japanese tradition by highlighting the process used to make this unique symbol of Japanese fashion, making the kimono a revered garment and a trend that never gets old.


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