There are plenty of choices from say two or three hundred years back which could be a hat, a shirt, a jacket, or some type of jewelry or accessories. This makes a wonderful conversation piece at a party. There are many distinct ethnic groups but only five major continents, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. If you can trace your family history back to any of these places, especially to the native people living there you will find some interesting clothes from times past. It is also interesting to note how many of the ancient traditional clothes have made into modern fashion and still are influential.
Taking the continents in alphabetical order, let’s first look at Africa. An example is Malian cloth which is a fabric called Bògòlanfini. It is very distinctive. It is orange color with a pattern on it that is white and dark brown. Traditionally the men of the tribe wove the material and the women dyed the fabric with different patterns. The material has already made its ways into modern fashion so you are capable of finding a shirt made of it.
Certainly you can find the fabric material and have a shirt made from it. In North America, many of the traditional native wear has made its way into modern fashion such as Indian turquoise jewelry, mukluks (thick boots), moccasins, beaded jackets and beaded shirts. In South America, the poncho is a piece of clothing that made it into modern fashion. Men and women alike, wear updated modern versions of the poncho. In Asia, one of the traditional men’s wear is the happi coat, which is like a thin cotton jacket and can also be a vest, and in China they believe the color red can bring prosperity. In Japan, there is a traditional of giving the gift of a happi coat to a man in celebration of his birthday and the colors are different depending on the age of the man.
In Europe there are as many traditional styles as there are countries. One of our favorites is the Bavarian style hat. Another ancient trend that is very strong and still going is the plaid fabric which originated to identify the clans in Scotland but is not used ubiquitously around the world. From Oceania we get the tattoo which is a Maori tradition from New Zealand, plus all the interesting forms of Polynesian dress.
It is not possible to do justice to such a broad topic in such a short article; however we hope it has encouraged you to delve a little bit into your family history, to find your heritage, and proudly wear a piece of something that represents it.