ookWhen Canyon and I arrived in Dushanbe, we both noticed that we were the worst dressed people around. And here in Khujand, we stand out, not only because of our light skin and "blondin" hair (our friend Jalil claims that even Canyon is considered blond) but also because of our relatively bedraggled dress. Personal appearance is almost too important to the people: as one Tajichka said,"if the people have no bread to eat, no food on their table, you will never know, because they will always dress themselves well. "
There are two basic styles of dress: traditional Tajik clothing, and Western styles which in many cases are mixed together. All students are forbidden from wearing traditional dress to classes, and school children are required to wear white tops and black bottoms. Most men and boys wear suits with well polished shoes and perfectly ironed shirts. The girls wear skirts, stockings and heels, all of which are creative and different in appearance: the skirts have many layers, or slant sideways, the stockings have flowers or diamonds or waves on them and the shoes are mostly round-toed heals with beads, sparkles or buckles. Working women most often wear dress suits, with matching jackets and skirts, unless their husband requires them to wear the Tajik dress. Jeans are very popular for men, boys and girls (not so much the women) as weekend or even everyday dress. None of these clothes are cheap, but all Tajiks know how to take care of them and often wear the same thing day after day.
Traditional Tajik dress, for men, is basically just pants and a collared shirt with a traditional or Muslim hat. The traditional hats are black with white embroidery and pointed at the top and lay lightly on the head. The Muslim hats are white or dark colors, flat topped and also just rest on the head. Women wear a long shapeless dress out of very colorful material with matching pants underneath. They often accompany this with heels, or at home, the comfortable, embroidered flat Tajik national shoes. Many older women cover their hair with a scarf (which does not usually match their dress), but few wear the hijab, which also covers the neck.
Marriage plays a huge role in a woman's appearance. Most married women take on the national dress at marriage as well as the head scarf for both work and at home, though for special occasions they have a skirt and beautiful jacket waiting in their closet. Only married women pluck their eyebrows, and they often paint them on again ( using natural homemade plant dye) as a full unibrow or two dark, thick eyebrows. Certain earrings are also saved for married women: the Tajik gold hoops with dangling pearls that cost at least $100 (their often included in a woman's dowry). For the girls, gold earrings in the shapes of flowers are very common.
One thing is certain about Tajikistan They may not have electricity or water or food, but they will always look nice.