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Fashion: Not a Very Modern Concept
Fashion might seem to be a modern concept, however what it represents goes back in history to very old times. It won’t be wrong if we say that every piece of clothing tells a story. As dressing up has not always been a means just to cover the body, instead it has always represented an idea about the person who is wearing it; who they are, where they come from, what they do.
In Iran, like anywhere else in the world, clothing has always had a special role. In a land so vast with people living in it for more than 5000 years, clothing has come a long way to be what it is today, and has a lot to say.
Here in this blog, the life of fashion in Iran unfolds, you will read about its journey and some of its aspects:
Fashion Closest to the Concept that We Know
When different groups of people live together, especially when that lifetime spans through centuries customs and traditions are made alongside differentiating aspects.
What we know today as local clothing style of different places, each has a long history of its own, nowadays, however, they continue to live mostly in villages and among tribes, and also on special occasions. This is mainly the result of the world’s altered point of view toward clothing, and a more universal idea that spread throughout the planet around two centuries ago, suggesting a general consideration of clothing for men and women.
The worldwide changes in clothing took place in Iran almost at the same time as the other parts of the world started to move toward a more unified sense of fashion and clothing. During its course of almost two hundred years the style of clothing has gone through ups and downs, and has faced many grave changes to be what it is today. However, worldly trends and innovative styles never left Iran. The local and traditional dressing styles have always lived on, were combined with worldly trends, and created a unique style one can just see and experience in Iran.
I remember a Polish couple who were astonished by this unique clothing style they saw Tehranian boys and girls wore normally. These couples were again surprised to see how in different cities they visited, and the Nomads they joined on a yearly migration people wore their traditional, local dresses in all their magnificence and glory. The way both men and women dress up for work, for having a night out with friends, visiting people, or simply taking a walk at a park can be truly suggestive, innovative, and beautiful at the same time. “You can see well-dressed men and women you can always get inspiration on your own clothing from!” said the Polish couple on their visit to Iran.
To read more about the dress code for women in Iran read the Solo Female Travel Blog.
Local Clothing; Tribes and Ethnicities, Azari People
After Parsi people, Azaris are the largest ethnic group in Iran. Although distributed in the whole country, Azari people mainly live in the northwest of Iran in more than three states.
Clothing in the Azari culture and tradition was a means to manifest one’s heritage and status in the society, as well as showing off one’s art and delicateness in making the finest decorations on the different parts of the dresses. One of the interesting facts one Azari people can indicate from a woman’s way of dressing is their marital status and their age.
Azari women would wear long dresses in bright happy colors along with a small hat which is called Barak, older married women would wear a Yayliq which is a headwear like a small hat under their long, colorful scarves. Azari men wear long coats with a hat made of wool, as the place they live in the northwest of Iran has a very cold climate. Simplicity in the men’s wear is a sign of authenticity and for women the bright colors. One can visit the Azari states of Iran in numerous tours offered, and enjoy watching a beautiful, traditional Azari dance performance in which the dancers wear their local clothing.
Local Clothing; Tribes and Ethnicities, Gilack People
Gilack people of Iran call the north of Iran their home. Living in between the Caspian sea on their north and the Alborz mountain on their south, these people get to live in one of the most flourishing and verdurous areas of Iran, and it has largely affected their way of clothing in time.
Although the traditional, local clothing of Gilacks can mainly be categorized into three sections of Qasem-Abadi in the east, Taleshi in the west and Rosoukhi in the center, it is the Qasem-Abadi traditional clothing which is recognized as one of the oldest and most authentic clothing styles in Iran and in the east in general.
Qasem-Abadi women wear skirts which can be long or short, a vest over their shirts in the cold seasons and a long scarf. Some women wear a small hat that covers their forehead. On this hat and also on their vests they put coins as a decoration.
The most significant aspect of the Qasem-Abadi women’s clothes is its colorful layers, the colorful stripes on their skirts, and the coin decorations. The scarves too have special imprints, usually of flowers and other decorations. Men wear simpler dresses. They will wear a loose pair of trousers which are fastened around their waist with a shawl, a vest, and a woolen hat. Where the trousers, the vest and the hat are usually black, the color of the shirt depends on the personal taste of the man who is wearing it.
Local Clothing; tribes and Ethnicities, Bakhtiari Nomads
Among the many tribes and nomads that live in Iran, the Bakhtiari Lors are the largest group. Living and migrating yearly between 5 different states in the southwest of Iran, they face different climates. Also, as they depend on what they produce as a tribe, their clothing style has a shape and color like no other.
You’ll see a Bakhtiari man wearing a pair of dark, loose trousers fastened around their waist with a shawl, a woolen hat, and a woolen beige mantle with vertical dark stripes. The Bakhtiari woman on the other hand, wears colorful layers of long dresses alongside a long scarf in harmony with those layers. One can join the Bakhtiaris on one of these yearly migrations and experience a lifestyle that has been going on for ages, witnessing their way of making their own clothes and the way they wear them.
A Land so Vast, Old and Diverse with Various Local Clothing Trends
For thousands of years, Iranians have called a land home which has had the shape of a cat on the world map for almost the last two hundred years. This is an interesting fact for a country which has given its name to the worldly famous Persian cat. This vast land has had millions of people during its five thousand years of history, loving and living every piece of the land.
The vastness and diversity are two important factors affecting Iranian local clothing alongside many other cultural aspects. As a country with deserts, Snowy Mountain tops, humid seasides, oak forests and fruit gardens, long rivers, and wide fields, it has enabled its inhabitants to experience diversity in every shape and form.
While in the south of Iran, in the city of Bandar-Abbas and the island of Qeshm women wear long dresses in bright colors with different depictions of flowers imprinted on them, the Lor women will wear vests and coats on their long dresses with colorful stripes quilted on them as they live on the mountainous parts of Iran almost at the west side of the country. Where in Bandar-Abbas and Qeshm, married women wear scarfs and specially made masks, the Lor women wear long woolen scarfs that cover their shoulders.
On this old, vast land people who live near the borders would dress up close to the neighbors, like the Balouchi men and women whose clothes resemble the Pakistani and Afghanistani clothing. Baloch women still wear their colorful trousers and long dresses accompanied by a long shawl. And the Balouch men wear long white trousers with shirts like Deshdasheh, very long white one top piece as they live in a warm climate.
One common factor in Iranian modern and also diverse local clothing is the hijab. Although one might consider hijab a sign of Iranians being mostly Muslims, hijab has always been a part of Iranian clothing back to very old days. There are numerous depictions of it on Achaemenid inscriptions and old tales. However, nowadays hijab has come to be a law that people need to follow, but it is an old companion of Iranians in their beautiful ways of clothing throughout ages. Maybe that is why it looks different in Iran compared to other countries in which you see people, especially women wearing hijab. Iranians have made an art out of their traditions and customs and enjoy innovative yet sincere ways of following their old traditions and beliefs.