You might have watched a few documentaries on the certain channels that gave you a little sneak peek of what Mongolian people wear, but it still is a limited perspective and not the full picture of the story.
The truth is Mongolians wear pretty what you would normally wear just like any other person, but there is some blend and mix of traditional clothes based on Mongolian people’s lifestyle.
Ancient Mongolian Clothing
If we are talking about ancient Mongolian clothing, then you probably already know. Mongolians used to wear the deel. If you don’t know deel is, it’s a dress/robe similar to a Roman toga, but a lot more thicker and hardy.
Ancient Mongolian clothing in fact is very similar to what nomads usually wear out in the countryside as well. Men and women both wear the deel and there is no gender difference, though the sizes are obviously different.
Traditional Mongolian Clothes
When it comes to Mongolian traditional clothes, as stated above, the Deel is the clothing of choice. It’s simple, practical and logical, but it can look very pretty if decorated and adorned with beautiful patterns.
What is the deel?
The deel is a Mongolian traditional dress/robe that men and women both wear during ceremonies and on special occasions, however most nomads also wear it day to day out in the countryside.
You will need a khadag/linen belt, traditional Mongolian shoes, a cowboy hat, and some small jewelry or ornaments to complete the look. Pratical deels don’t look that colourful or exciting, but decorative deels just look marvelous and beautiful when put together in style.
When there are events, festivities, holidays, etc men and women wear their traditional deel. Sometimes the deel is sewn by grandmas and relatives for their loved ones, so it has a very special significance because it can be made by the people you love and care about.
However, certain clothing brands such as Goyo Cashmere make decorative deel as well. A unique pattern is sewn on top the cloth, and smaller finer details are included with the decorative deel. The material usually includes silk, linen, which are more expensive. It’s not as thick or fluffy like nomad deels.
Practical deel is worn by nomads and the material is mostly made from sheep wool and simpler materials. It’s made for mostly everyday use and wear.
There isn’t much detail or patterns that go with the nomad deel, but it’s very fluffy and warm. Winter deels can be even more sturdier, thicker and heavier due to the sheep wool stuffing on the inside. These things can get you through -40 degree celsius weathers!
Mongolian Modern Clothing
Moving onto more modern style of clothing, it is no different from what people wear around the world. Although some brands and certain trends are observed in Mongolia, bigger city folks usually wear clothes like you would wear on a normal day.
However, compared with some countries, Mongolians are usually more stylish and chic, because outer appearance is a very important aspect of Mongolian modern culture. People judge you based on how expensive, how well put your clothes are so women and men try their best to look as good as possible when out and about, whereas comparatively some cultures just wear very casual clothes, Mongolians do dress up more often.
What do Men Wear?
Teenagers and kids will usually wear clothes that are in trend. The trends usually come from Japan and Korea, so whatever trend is popular in Japan or Korea makes it way into Mongolian fashion. For example: sneakers, with skinny jeans, and stylish t-shirt and a belt.
Sometimes hairstyles, certain demeanor etc are what boys and teenagers will try to emulate when growing up due to peer pressure.
However the older you get, people start developing their own sense of style and wear clothes that make them look good. Young professionals usually will wear suit and tie with nice dress shoes, whereas some other people will go with a bit more casual look but still with their own touch of character.
While fashion trends do still matter, it’s not as important.
What do Women Wear?
There are expectations for women to look the best they possibly can in Mongolian culture, so women will put on make-up, wear certain clothes that show off their femininity, jewelry etc.
Women are especially more prone to being judged for not dressing up or looking good. Wearing too much casual clothes can get some bad remarks from people. There is somewhat of an expectation from society for women to wear expensive things and look nice.
What Do Mongolians Wear During Winter
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There is an exception to the rule of always needing to look good, because the winter months are brutal in Mongolia. Sometimes it even reaches -40 or 50 degrees celcius so practicality is more important during the winter months and not a lot of attention is paid to how good you look during the winter.
Regardless of gender, people need to wear fur coats, scarves, a thick hat, and winter boots in order to survive the cold months. Trends come and go on what kind of coat one should get. Some years you will notice people buying a particular brand of jacket or boots and while walking down the street if you are observant enough you will see the it.
What Do Mongolians Wear During Summer
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Summer is the time to express your fashions style. In the capital, Ulaanbaatar, it’s not too hot nor too cold, so it’s perfect for dressing however you want with the exception of winter clothes.
If someone wants to wear a nice dress shirt, dress shoes, with cool glasses, that’s totally possible. There are just so many options and ways to dress during the summer. This is dependent on the weather though, because it does rain and get a bit chilly during the night, so people usually play it by ear and they match it with how the weather is going to be.
How Should Foreigner Dress in Mongolia?
Now you might be wondering if there is a special code or rule to follow when travelling to Mongolia and visiting the country, but the honest truth is no.
You don’t have to wear anything special or prohibit yourself from wearing any type of clothes because you are a foreigner, so you can wear whatever you want.
Sometimes you can even get away with wearing outlandish clothes that make people raise their eyebrows, because the cultural rules that apply to Mongolians don’t necessarily apply to nationals from other countries.
However, it does not hurt to look your best and present yourself in the best possible manner. Because, whether you like it or not, people will judge you on your exterior before getting to know you on a deeper level.