You might have watched a few documentaries on 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 / Medieval Mongolian Clothing
There were many ethnic groups within the Mongol empire, but if we are talking about ancient Mongolian clothing for ethnic Mongols, you probably have heard of the deel. If you don’t know deel is, it’s a dress/robe similar to a Roman toga, but a lot thicker and hardy.
Ancient Mongolian clothing in fact is very similar to what nomads traditionally 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.
- Deel (or Dell): The most notable and characteristic garment is the Deel. The Deel is a loose, long robe or tunic that ties at the waist. Both men and women wore Deels, but the style and decoration varied by gender, social status, and occasion. It was made of various materials such as silk, cotton, wool, and sometimes animal skins. The sleeves were typically long and loose, and the surplus material served as large pocket for carrying small items.
- Boots: Traditional Mongolian boots, known as Gutal, were essential for the nomadic life and horse riding. They were made from leather, often cowhide or sheepskin, and turned upwards at the toes to aid in horse riding and walking across the Mongolian plains.
- Hats: Mongolians had an array of different hats, each suited to a particular purpose, social status, or occasion. Some of the popular ones were the high, pointed hat for summer, the fur hat for winter, and the ornate, crescent-shaped headdresses for women, especially for weddings and special ceremonies.
- Accessories: Mongolians often wore sashes, leather belts, precious stones, and jewelry. The belts were usually made of silk and worn over the Deel. Jewelry was often made of silver and semi-precious stones, with intricate detailing and symbolism.
- Furs and Skins: In the extremely cold winters, Mongolians often wore clothing made from animal furs and skins, like sheepskin or even wolf skin. These materials provided necessary warmth and protection from the harsh winter climate.
Depending on someone’s status, it could be tailored to fit custom needs with more
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. Practical deels don’t look that colorful or exciting, but decorative deels just look marvelous and beautiful when put together in style.
Modern Decorative Deel
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 of 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 as nomad deels.
Practical and Durable Deel
Practical deel is kind of like a Mongolian costume worn by nomads and herder. The material is mostly made from sheep wool and simpler materials. It’s made for most everyday use and wears.
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 sturdier, thicker, and heavier due to the sheep wool stuffing on the inside with a few pieces of button near the collar. These things can get you through -40 degrees Celsius weather!
Traditional Mongolian Clothing Fashion
Traditional Mongolian clothing has made a significant impact on fashion, both within Mongolia and beyond. The clothing’s unique designs, symbols, and functionality make it an intriguing aspect of global fashion culture.
- Contemporary Fashion in Mongolia: Even with the proliferation of Western-style clothing in Mongolia, traditional elements continue to influence contemporary fashion. Modern Mongolian fashion often combines elements of traditional attire, such as the Deel, with modern fashion trends. Designers use the shape of the Deel as a base and innovate with new materials, colors, and accessories to create a contemporary look that still respects Mongolian heritage.
- Global Fashion: The influence of Mongolian clothing extends beyond its borders. Internationally, designers have drawn inspiration from the rich patterns, textures, and silhouettes found in traditional Mongolian attire. For instance, the strong, structured silhouette of the Deel, the high collars, and the wide, ornate belts have all been elements incorporated into international high fashion. The use of fur and leather in Mongolian clothing has also been influential.
- Accessories: Traditional Mongolian accessories have also found their way into contemporary fashion. Gold or silver jewelry, intricately decorated hats, and beautifully patterned sashes are sometimes incorporated into modern outfits for a touch of exotic elegance. The traditional Mongolian boot, Gutal, has been reinterpreted in various forms in global footwear fashion.
- Sustainable Fashion: With a strong tradition of using natural materials and sustainable practices, Mongolian clothing offers valuable insights for the global sustainable fashion movement. For example, the traditional practice of making Deels from natural fabrics and dyes is an environmentally friendly approach to clothing production.
- Cultural and Fashion Shows: Traditional Mongolian clothing is often highlighted in cultural festivals and fashion shows, both domestically and internationally. These platforms showcase the richness and diversity of Mongolian clothing and fashion.
Traditional Mongolian clothing not only represents the country’s cultural heritage but also continues to influence and inspire modern fashion trends globally. Its fusion with contemporary styles serves as a testament to the longevity and adaptability of Mongolian cultural traditions in the fashion world.
Modern Mongolian Clothing and Fashion
Moving onto the 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 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, and 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 its way into Mongolian fashion. For example sneakers, 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 a 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, and 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 many 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.
However, trends in 2023 have become more casual. Younger generation of Mongolians, especially women wear looser fitting clothes with big heels, loose long jeans, etc.
It has become quite similar to Korean fashion due to Korean cultural media influence among younger generation.
Mongolian Winter Clothing
Mongolia, known for its harsh winters where temperatures can plummet below -40 degrees Celsius, has a deep tradition of winter clothing adapted over centuries for protection and warmth.
The Winter Deel: A Traditional Staple
Key aspects of the winter attire include the Winter Deel, a Mongolian national robe usually made of warm fabrics like sheep or camel wool. This modern fashion has evolved from the medieval Mongolian clothing. The Deel has long sleeves, a high collar, and reaches down to the feet to shield against the cold, and it’s often lined with fur or fleece for extra warmth. The Deel ties around the waist with a sash and traditionally has buttons on the right shoulder.
Fur and Skin Garments: Embracing the Nomadic Roots
Mongolian men and women’s clothing in winter frequently incorporates fur and skin garments. Full coats made from the pelts of sheep, goats, wolves, or marmots provide excellent insulation. Gutal, traditional Mongolian boots, are usually made with additional layers for insulation. These boots are made of leather and lined with thick felt or fur.
Hats, Gloves and More: Completing the Winter Ensemble
Hats are an essential part of Mongolian traditional clothes, with diverse and region-specific styles. In the city, people usually wear a warm hat, not much different from those in Western countries. Mongolian winter hats are often made of fur, covering the ears and neck entirely.
Gloves and mittens made from wool or leather, often lined with fur or fleece, are also part of the winter ensemble. Woolen or fur scarves, as well as heavy wool or fur wraps, are commonly used for extra insulation against wind and cold. And of course, underpants are worn as an additional layer on top of jeans or other leg clothing.
What Do Mongolians Wear During Summer
During summer, Mongolians express their fashion style more liberally. The climate in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, allows for a broad range of clothing choices. Dress shirts, cool glasses, and a variety of other attire can be seen on the streets. Weather does influence the choices as it can rain and get chilly during the night.
How Should Foreigners Dress in Mongolia?
Foreigners visiting Mongolia often wonder if there is a specific dress code. The truth is, there isn’t one. Mongolia is welcoming of different styles and cultures. Visitors can wear anything they feel comfortable in, even if it’s outlandish to local norms. That being said, it’s always a good idea to present oneself appropriately as first impressions often count.
Wearing Traditional Clothing
Whether it’s a luxurious wedding or a nomadic tribe celebration, you can find the richness of Mongolia’s culture reflected in its clothing. The long sleeves, high collar, and leather belt of the Deel, the decorative headwear adorned with jewels, or the social position communicated through the different colors and materials of the clothing, all speak to Mongolia’s diverse and vibrant cultural landscape.
Foreigners are more than welcome to wear such clothes and most of us would be flattered.
Festivals and Special Occasions: A Celebration of Cultural Heritage
This vibrant clothing culture is celebrated during the Lunar New Year and other special occasions. At these times, Mongolians wear their traditional clothing, with women often donning pearl and coral accessories, silver earrings, and headdresses made of silk.
While you are not forced to wear such clothes, Mongolians will find it very respectful if you take an interest in our culture and show respect.
Clothing for Related Tours
Whether you are touring our homeland or the gobi, wear what is suitable and appropriate for the weather. There isn’t a strict rule, however, just for the experience you should try wearing a deel and get the full nomad experience 🙂
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Mongolian clothes made of?
Deel, is made of lightweight, breathable materials such as silk, cotton, or wool. The fabric used for deel is often decorated with intricate embroidery patterns and can come in a variety of colors, although blue, green, and red are most common. Fur, leather, and felt are also commonly used in Mongolian clothing, particularly for winter wear.
Why do Mongolians wear deel?
The deel is a traditional Mongolian clothing that has been worn for centuries in Mongolia. There are several reasons why Mongolians wear deel:
1. Protection against the harsh weather conditions: Mongolia is known for its extreme weather conditions, ranging from hot summers to harsh and cold winters. The deel is designed to keep people warm in cold weather, while also being light enough to wear during the summer months.
2. Symbol of tradition and identity: The deel is an important symbol of Mongolian culture, history, and identity. It is often worn during traditional ceremonies and events to showcase pride and respect for their culture.
3. Functionality and versatility: The deel is a functional and versatile garment that can be worn in various situations. It is suitable for both men and women and can be worn in both formal and informal occasions.
4. Comfort and ease of movement: The loose, flowing design of the deel makes it comfortable to wear and allows for ease of movement, which is ideal for people who live and work in rural areas.
Overall, the deel plays an important role in Mongolian culture and is still widely worn today for its practicality, symbolization, and beauty.
What did Mongolian warriors wear?
Mongolian warriors typically wore leather armor made from animal hides, such as horse, sheep, or cow. This armor was often adorned with fur, scales, or metal studs for added protection. They also wore iron or leather helmets to protect their heads. In cold climates, they wore fur-lined boots and clothing to protect themselves from the harsh weather. Additionally, Mongolian warriors carried various weapons such as bows and arrows, spears, swords, and axes.
Why did Mongols wear silk in battle?
1. Silk was a lightweight, breathable, and comfortable fabric that provided protection from the sun’s rays while being suitable for colder temperatures.
2. It showed their wealth and social status to their enemies and soldiers alike, showing dominance and intimidation.
3. Silk was also believed to protect the wearer from arrows and blades, reducing the risk of injury and death in battle.
4. Silk was an important trade commodity and tribute item, and wearing silk in battle also served as a symbol of their conquests and power, showcasing their ability to obtain and afford such luxury goods.