There is no official national costume in Sri Lanka. But the most popular items are sari for women and sarong for men. The traditions in men's clothing are simpler and clearer – men of any age wear sarongs or trousers. It is a little bit more complicated with women. Their national costumes depend on the age, marital status and the event. Mostly women use sari or half sari. But there are different regional peculiarities.
Women's traditional clothing
The clothes of women in Sri Lanka differ much depending on the age of a woman. Little girls often wear skirts and blouses. The skirts are stylized to sari a little bit. Girls who reached puberty and young women wear half sari. The bottom of this attire looks like a sari, but the top is a scarf or a piece of cloth put on a shoulder and tucked in the skirt. The top can also be a jacket or a blouse. Married women and older women always wear sari.
Kandyan wedding, Sri Lanka. Photo from Pinterest.com
In some regions women wear tight-fitting, short-sleeved jacket with a wrap-around; or a full blouse which is partially tucked in at the front. There are also such pieces of clothes as redde and hatte. It is a modification of the Javanese Kabu kain. The redde is a 2.5 m long piece of sloth which is wrapped around the waist. The hatte is a linen blouse with a round or V-shaped neckline.
The traditional clothing for official events and ceremonies is a sari. This sari must be very colorful, bright and ornated.
Sri Lankan dancers. Photo from Vsitlanka.blogspot.com
Muslim women in Sri Lanka wear same dress as in any other country. They cover all the body, except face and hands. Mostly Muslim women use sari in a drape called the Gujarati drape. It lets them cover the head with extra fabric when needed.
Many traditions in Sri Lanka are similar with those in India. And the climate is also the same. So, a lot of clothing in these two countries is alike. Women cover their body with light and feminine sari, use massive jewelry, and wear hair updos.
Men's traditional clothing
Men in Sri Lanka wear a sarong – a long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the body. This piece is the most popular and widespread. In some regions men use a sarong with a long-sleeved shirt. But mostly men don't wear tops at all. Hot weather helps with that.
Wedding attire in Sri Lanka. Photo from Dresses5.com
There are several ways to wear a sarong. Sometimes men tie it and make a knot in front, in other cases they wrap it around like a skirt, and others put the end between the legs and tie it or tuck into the sarong (it turns out something like trousers).
Traditional clothing for special occasions for men is trousers and t-shirts. Sometimes they wear caps as well.