What to Wear in Sri Lanka: Traditional Clothing

10 months ago / by Team SEEMA
Traditional Clothing of Sri Lanka
Image credits: Shutterstock

Sri Lanka is the home of numerous beautiful fashion traditions. Although there is no standard traditional code of dress, you’ll find highly distinct styles in cultural garments like the sari and countless others.

Traditions of Multitudes

Sri Lanka doesn’t have just one set of traditional wear – so if you’re looking for a simple national costume of Sri Lanka, you won’t be able to find it. But what you will find is a broad range of styles that have formed as a result of the diverse and rich cultural influences of the area. These are some of the most prominent trends you’ll see in the traditional clothing of Sri Lanka.

The Sari: A Sri Lankan Essential

Hardly any woman in Sri Lanka is without a sari. For men, the equivalent is the sarong. This may also be spelled “saree” and is a part of Indian culture that has become seamlessly integrated into the traditions and styles of Sri Lanka.

Men have it easier with fashion in Sri Lanka in general, following more straightforward and clear traditions. No matter what age the man is, there isn’t as much for him to worry about with his traditional clothing of Sri Lanka. For men of all ages, trousers or sarongs are fitting for almost any occasion.

Women Have More They Have to Think About

Women, on the other hand, have a bit more complicated a world that they have to maneuver in the traditional clothing of Sri Lanka. A woman dressing traditionally in Sri Lanka has to consider factors like her age, whether or not she is married, and what type of event or function she is attending.

In most cases, you’ll see women using either a sari or a half sari. These will vary from region to region – everywhere you go, you’ll find unique differences in the styles, each with its own particular patterns and adornments.

Age is a key factor when determining your ideal fashion with Sri Lanka traditional clothing. A little girl is often seen wearing a skirt and a blouse, oftentimes bearing at least some stylistic influence of the sari. It may not always be obvious, but the sari style is almost always there in some regard, even if it’s not right on your face.

Full Sari of Half Sari

It’s more common for older girls to wear a half sari. While the lower portion of this piece of Sri Lanka traditional clothing might appear identical to a regular sari, it’s in the top where the half sari is distinct. This part is made up of either a scarf or some other segment of fabric, which the wearer puts over one shoulder and then tucks into her skirt. In some cases, a blouse or jacket will be worn instead of a scarf. For those who have gotten married or have just reached a mature enough age, a sari is an everyday essential.

Redde/Hatte Combination

The Redde and Hatte are two other highly popular clothing items in Sri Lankan traditional dress that work together to form an outfit that fits many occasions – although it is particularly worn for wedding ceremonies – and is extremely comfortable. The Redde is comprised of one length of fabric – usually about two and a half meters long – which is worn around the waist. The Hatte is the more delicate of the two pieces, often a blouse made of linen that has a basic neckline. This is generally either a rounded or V-neck.

Traditional Clothing of Sri Lanka
Image credits: Shutterstock


What do girls in Sri Lanka Nepal wear?

Among the younger girls in Nepal, the Lama Sariya is a extremely popular Sri Lankan traditional dress. It might be easy to confuse with a half sari because they look so similar, but there are a few distinctions that can be made.

The two components that any Lama Sariya has to include are a jacket and a drape. This jacket is tailored to fit perfectly and adorned with frills – usually wide and soft ones – that encircle the wearer’s neck. The drape wraps around the waist to complete the look of this national dress of Sri Lanka.

How many cultural dress are in Sri Lanka?

Since Sri Lanka doesn’t come with its own official traditional dress code, it’s difficult or even impossible to put an exact number on how many cultural dresses exist today in Sri Lanka. There are countless variations to each type of cultural dress, creating near-endless varieties to explore.

Do people in Sri Lanka wear saree?

Yes. This is the same as a sari and is one of the most popular things for the women of Sri Lanka to wear. It is another example of Indian fashion culture being adopted by Sri Lankans. This is considered usual attire and in some cases, it’s required in a woman’s dress code for work. Other times, she may wear it as a conscious decision to make a statement – or it might just be something she puts on each day because it’s such an essential part of every outfit.