Traditional costume in Central Asia remains an important component of cultural, ethnic and religious identity, although younger people ape western fashions.
The most striking piece of male attire is the long, striped, wrap-around cloak called chapan, or khalat in Russian, tied around the waist by a turma sash. Massi slippers are worn over kavish soft boots so that only the overshoes need be taken off when entering a mosque or private house. The characteristic black-and-white Uzbek doppe/doppillar skullcaps (tubyeiteka in Russian), embroidered with stylized floral motifs, are worn almost universally to provide a religious as well as ethnic marker, while multi-coloured 'carpet' Tajik scullcaps are worn widely in Samarkand and Shakhrisabz. Both styles originally served as support for the traditional 40 folds of a white or blue chalma turban, but are worn today in their own right. In winter, skullcaps are generally swapped for warmer karakul fleeced tilpaks. In Khorezm, wild and woolly Turkomen dreadlock chormas bristle with past infamy, while white, felt Kyrgyz kalpaks speckle the fringes of the Ferghana Valley. Muslim headgear is universally rimless to avoid impeding daily prayer. Belts for gala dresses were normally very smart, made of velvet or embroidered, with silver figured metal plates and buckles. Everyday shirts are tied with long sashes.
Traditional Uzbek women’s suit consists of plain khan-atlas tunic-dress and wide trousers. Holiday garments were made of satin fabric richly embroidered with golden thread. Women’s headdress consists of three elements: a skull-cap, kerchief and turban. An essential part of traditional holiday garments of Uzbek women are gold and silver jewellery: earrings, bracelets, necklaces. Surkhandarya women most of all prefer the colors of red nuance as a symbol of well-being. The embroidery pattern was chosen not by chance, it always had magic or practical function. One could judge about the owner’s social status by the patterns, though sometimes they bear other meanings. For instance, repeating geometrical pattern on the braiding was a something like an amulet Clothing of black or dark blue colors was not popular in any region of Uzbekistan due to a superstition. Sogdian patterns have preserved the traces of Zoroastrian influence. The colors in this region were chosen on the basis of the position in society. For example, prevailing blue and violet nuances in a woman’s dress showed her husband’s pride of place, while greenish motifs were frequently used by peasants and craftsmen. Women's dress centres around the mass-produced, but vibrant, tie-dyed ikat silks of the Ferghana Valley where time-honoured, handmade silks are also being revived. Kuljak knee-length dresses are worn either alone or with ishton trousers, while violently embroidered skullcaps are reserved for unmarried girls. Married women generally wear coloured headscarves. Only in rural areas will you see older women wearing the traditional chetvan robe with arms tied behind the back. In parts of the Ferghana Valley Iranian-style chador dresses and veils (paranja) are returning with the rising Islamic tide.
The footwear consisted of baskhi (ichigi – nice heelless step-in boots with a soft sole), and high boots made of rough leather or rubber. It was very handy and warm footwear which is quite popular even today.
Women and Men’s national headwear. Tubeteikas (Skull-caps) - Headdress is one of the main elements in the traditional Uzbek clothing. The national headwear in many countries of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan is a tubeteika (skull-cap). Tubeteika is derived from the Turkic word “tube'”, which means “top, peak”. Tubeteika is worn by everybody: men, women, and children. Only elder women do not wear tubeteikas.
Today it is uncommon to meet a man in the tubeteika in large cities, mainly it is an important element of holiday garments at family parties and religious celebrations. The common form of the Uzbek tubeteika is tetrahedral and slightly conical. Traditional men’s tubeteika is black and embroidered with a inwrought white pattern in a form of four “paprikas” and 16 miniature arches. An everyday tubeteika, “kalampir”, is one of the simplest and widely used cap, it’s importance must not be underestimated. This tubeteika is an essential attribute for some events even in the environment of a country-wide influence of the European culture. There are smart tubeteikas enriched with bright and colorful embroideries and patterns for special festival occasions.
In traditionally nomadic areas, wealth was worn in the saddle and on the hoof and Kazakh, Karakalpak and Turkomen carpets, saddlery, koshma felts, coral amulets and women's silver jewellery are particularly fine. Embroidery is also a long established art in Central Asia; witness the male-dominated profession of Bukharan gold embroidery or local variations of suzane embroidered designs. The most popular form of suzane, derived from the Persian word for needle, are beautiful wall hangings.