Cambodia Table of Contents
The traditional Khmer costume consisted of a shirt or blouse and a skirt-like lower garment--sampot for women and sarong for men, a tube-shaped garment about a meter wide and as much as three meters in circumference. Made of cotton or of silk in many different styles and patterns, it is pulled on over the legs and fastened around the waist. On ceremonial occasions, elegant sampot as sarong, embroidered with gold or silver threads, may be worn with a long piece of material gathered at the waist, passed between the legs, and tucked into the waistband in back. Members of the urban middle and upper classes may wear Westernstyle clothing at work and more traditional clothing at home.
At home both sexes wear the sampot and the sarong. In rural areas, working men and women may wear loose-fitting pants and shirts or blouses. Many men wear Western-style pants or shorts. A third essential part of Khmer dress is the krama, or long scarf, that is worn around the neck, over the shoulders, or wrapped turban-style around the head. School children wear Western-style clothing to school. The boys wear shirts and shorts; the girls wear skirts and blouses.
The Khmer Rouge were noted for their unisex black "pajamas." Their typical garb was the peasant outfit of collarless black shirt--baggy trousers and checkered krama (a scarf knotted loosely about the neck). French anthropologist Marie Alexandrine Martin reported that the wearing of brightly colored clothing was prohibited under the Khmer Rouge and that women, young and old, wore black, dark blue, or maroon sampot with short-sleeved plain blouses. Women were forbidden to wear Western-style pants at any time. The conical hat characteristic of the Vietnamese has been adopted to a certain extent by Khmer in the provinces adjacent to Vietnam.
Data as of December 1987