I think there is a time to wear traditional clothing and a time not to wear them. In general, I didn’t wear my hanbok (Korean traditional dress) when I lived in Korea, but there were occasions when it was appropriate, so I wore it on those occasions. It was fun. My daughter’s mother in law really wanted me to wear a Korean hanbok at the wedding when our kids got married. She wanted a traditional wedding. She was willing to pour thousands and thousands of dollars into it that I just didn’t have, so I told her to go ahead. She took over. She even had someone make me a tailor made hanbok because she wanted me to wear it at the wedding so much. They even gave me traditional Korean shoes. I wore it at the wedding, and it was nice. After that, I hardly wore it, but at times, it was appropriate. Once, a group of us went to Gyeongbuk Palace on Chuseok. Everyone who went to the palace that day were wearing hanboks, so I wore mine too. It was fun. At times, my daughter’s mother in law requested she wear her hanbok to family gatherings. My daughter didn’t want to be asked to wear her hanbok. Sometimes she complied and sometimes she didn’t. Koreans love to see people wearing hanboks.
When I was in Japan, my Japanese sister and her mother wanted to put a kimono on me and take pictures, so I let them. It was fun. The regular Japanese kimonos like the one they put on me are just too expensive to give as gifts. Someone gave me a summer kimono, the cotton type, along with an obi (the belt) and geta (traditional Japanese wooden shoes). Initially, I only wore it at special times. If there was a special dinner and I was requested to wear it, I did. When I went back to America, I was part of a student group who had all been to Japan, and occasionally, we got together with the Japanese students on campus. We all wore our kimonos and made Japanese food. It was fun. There are times it is appropriate. Now a days, I have two summer kimonos (the yukatas) hanging in the closet. The Japanese use the kimonos like robes at home, and I do too. When I was a student in Japan, my Japanese friends and I wore our geta (traditional Japanese wooden shoes) with our blue jeans. It was fun.
When I was in Nigeria, I had a couple of Nigerian dresses. There is more than one kind. The kind I had were the big caftans with all the stitching around the neck and on the front. I was a young married, and I got pregnant, and they were wonderful maternity clothes. In Nigeria, no one was every bothered by me wearing them. When I came back to the States, I was still pregnant, and I was still wearing my Nigerian dresses. My mother asked me to stop wearing them because she thought they looked like night clothes. I always tried to get along with my mother, and it kind of embarrassed me because I hadn’t thought of it that way at all, and I complied.
When I was in high school, I bought a gaucho hat during one of my trips to Mexico I used to take all the time. It was black with a flat bill going all the way around like a cowboy hat and a big red flower on the side. It was beautiful! I wore it when I traveled in the summer just for the fun of it. People began teasing me saying I looked like I had just stepped out of a beauty pageant and calling me, “Miss Argentina.” It didn’t bother me enough to make me stop wearing it. When I was in college, they had a “Western Day,” and everyone on the campus was supposed to dress up like they were from the old west. I got some culottes to serve as gaucho pants, a vest, a ruffled shirt, some boots, and I wore that hat. I won the award for the best costume on “Western Day.” They said I looked like I just stepped off the high chaparral. I love to dress up and play.
On a day to day basis, wearing the traditional clothing makes us look funny except for when I wore the Nigerian dresses in Nigeria because all the women were wearing them in Nigeria. However, there are times that is appropriate, and I say when it is appropriate, dress up and have a good time!!