Dresses of Sri Lanka: Explore Unique Clothes of Sri Lanka

The capital city Colombo is considered to be a modern hub exhibiting urban life. Along with its mesmerizing beauty, it has its deep-rooted traditions of Buddhism. Traditions and dresses of Sri Lanka have been passed down by ancestors for decades. Most popular items of clothing consist of the sari or wrap-around skirt with a blouse for women and sarong for men, though the traditional dress for women is more complicated, it is more straightforward, smart and cleaner for men.

The outfits depend on marital status, age, economic situation, and occasion, and different ethnic groups in Sri Lanka have a distinctive way to decorate and drape clothing.  Portuguese introduced a lot of traditional clothing in Sri Lanka. While there was no direct influence of Dutch fashion and style on the dress of Sri Lanka, their colonial presence led to rapid growth in textile production and imports and increased the variety of styles available to people.

Traditional Dresses of Sri Lanka for Women

1. Lama Sariya

Women’s clothing in Sri Lanka depends on age and marital status. Most of the younger girls here tend to wear Lama Sariya which looks like half a sari. Lama Sariya has two parts, the top part consists of a fitted jacket with wide soft frill that falls beautifully around the neck, and the bottom half is a drape that is wrapped around the waist. The cloth reaches the ankle and has a wide frill at the side seam, giving it a more smooth and beautiful look. The white Lama Sariya is for religious events such as to observe on religious functions whereas colorful Lama Saris are worn on wedding, especially by the flower girl and little maids who look adorable running around in this beautiful costume.

Married women and older women tend to wear wrap around with exquisite prints which are cotton fabrics along with a tight-fitting, short-sleeved jacket or a full blouse which are worn by tucking them in the front. Traditional clothing for women is mostly covered and decent, There is also a modification of Javanese Kabu rain, known as Redde and Hatte. 

2. Redde and Hatte

Redde is a two and a half meter long piece of cloth that adorns the waist, and Hatte is a delicate linen blouse with a simple neckline, usually round or V-shaped neckline. Redde and Hatte together create a smart and comfortable outfit often worn during weddings. The traditional clothing for official or religious events is more colorful, bright and beautified by ornamentation and use of unique materials.

Muslim women in Sri Lanka tend to wear their traditional burkha which is a black cloth that covers the entire body and face with a slight opening for eyes, sometimes the gap for eyes is replaced by a delicate mesh clothing. They tend to hide their whole body, expect hands. They tend to use Gujarati drape for their clothing.

Many traditional rituals and dresses in Sri Lanka are similar to those in India. The climate in this country is very similar to the rest of India. Hence, the clothing in these two countries is alike and usually cover their body with light and alluring feminine sari that drapes delicately around the body, they accessorize their outfit with massive unique jewellery and wear elaborate hair updos with their beautiful traditional drapes.

Traditional Dresses of Sri Lanka for men


The traditional costume for boys is known as Jathika Anduma, which is a brilliant, comfortable and straightforward ensemble and is very different from Lama Sariya, which is much more complicated and is worn by adults. It also has two parts, one of which is a long sleeve blouse and a long sarong that reaches up to the ankle.

The shirt is not to be tucked in, and the entire outfit usually comes with a very neatly folded wrap which is similar to a scarf that can be wrapped around the neck. The Jathika Anduma too is mostly worn in light colors or white color, especially when visiting religious places. For religious events and ceremonies, boys wear the Jathika Anduma in many colors though pale gold and cream colors are often used for weddings.

Men in Sri Lanka usually wear a sarong, and it is a long printed piece of clothing that is worn by wrapping it around the body, the article is one of the most popular dresses in Sri Lanka for most men here. In some regions, men use a sarong with a long sleeved shirt and straight trousers, made of cotton fabric. At times men do not wear tops at all to accommodate the weather conditions in the country.

Men usually tie their sarongs with a small knot in front and some cases they are wrapped around like a skirt, and some put the end between the legs and tie or tuck it into the sarong, this makes the sarong look like a trouser. At home, men mostly prefer to wear dhoti or Pancha, which is a long piece of cloth which is worn by wrapping it around the body, it is rarely worn outside as it depicts men belonging to the lower class.

All their clothing can be tied in a variety of ways and are made out of various materials depending on the weather conditions and occasion.

This post was published by Gautham Pappu

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