Folk costume (also: regional costume, national costume or traditional garments) expresses an identity through costume which usually to a geographic area or a period of time in history, but can also indicate social, marital and/or religious status. Such costumes often come in two forms: one for everyday occasions, the other for festivals and formal wear.

Following the outbreak of romantic nationalism, the peasantry of Europe came to serve as models for all that appeared genuine and desirable. Their dress crystallised into so-called “typical” forms, and enthusiasts adopted it as part of their symbolism.

In areas where contemporary Western fashions have become usual, traditional garments are often worn in connection with special events’ celebrations, particularly those connected with cultural traditions, heritage, or pride.

In modern times there are instances where traditional garments are required by law, as in Bhutan, where the traditional Tibetan-style clothing of gho and kera for men, kira and toego for women, must be worn by all citizens—even those not of Tibetan heritage; or in Saudi Arabia, where women are required to wear the abaya in public.

It is normally a dress which we associate with a country and its residents. It is something that they may wear everyday or only on formal occasions, but it is part of their unique identity and is usually symbolic of their culture. Most national costumes have been a part of the heritage of that nation and have been handed down from generation to generation, and are based on the kinds of fabrics available and are suited to the climate of that country.