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Dress Code

Like other Central Asians, Turkmen are conservative when it comes to dress. The wearing of shorts by men is inappropriate. Women do not wear shorts, and are advised to wear long dresses or skirts and to cover their arms.

Traditional dress is common in the country and not worn only for tourists or festivals. Typical attire for a woman is a long dress known as a koynek. Nearly floor-length, the dress is embroidered around the neck. Under the koynek are worn balak (pants). Only the bottom border of the balak shows under the koynek. Men wear loose-fitting blue trousers and a white shirt covered with a heavy silk jacket adorned with red and gold stripes.

Men and women wear headgear. Women typically wear their hair away from the face, often in braids or under a scarf. Headgear for special occasions can be elaborate and shows the family’s jewelry and wealth. Men wear fluffy wool hats, telpek (sometimes called borek), that denote the tribe they belong to.

Inside homes, people cover their feet with knitted slippers or socks called joraps. Made of wool, silk, or cotton, their geometric or floral designs denote a region. Although younger Turkmen have an affinity for Western dress, they have been encouraged to return to the more traditional dress. Many people consider Western clothes to be inappropriate. Traditional clothing is still common, especially among women but less so among men. Often, some element of traditional-style clothing is worn with Western-style clothing.