One of the most striking aspects of modern Myanmar is the prevalence of traditional dress, which continues to be worn by both men and women, even in trendy Yangon. The cornerstone of the Burmese wardrobe is the longyi (or women’s htamein), a length of patterned cloth which superseded the similar but more volumi- nous pahso in the British era when it became, at least among the upper classes, a statement of support for the Independence movement. Longyis (with Shan jack- ets) and htameins are now worn by everyone on for mal occasions such as weddings and political functions.
Historical Dress Traditional
Burmese dress originated in the Konbaung court (1752–1885), when rich jewelry and fine fabrics were reserved by law for court officials and their wives. During British rule, short hair, longyis, and Chinese-style Shan jackets replaced men’s pahsos and long hair; htameins became slightly shorter with more flattering waistlines, and were worn with jackets and cotton blouses.
Regional Traditional Dress
Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities retain their own styles of dress, in most cases completely distinct from those favored by the Burmese majority. In Chinese-influenced Shan, Mandarin-style jackets are common, while in the remote hill tracts of the far north, east, and west, even everyday costumes may involve elaborate head gear of striking, handwoven cotton turbans and heavy pieces of jewelry.