Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium, (2004).


Presented at “Appropriation • Acculturation • Transformation,” Textile Society of America 9th Biennial Symposium, Oakland, California, October 7-9, 2004. Copyright 2004 Textile Society of America.


From both rural and urban traditions, the dress of Turkey is rich in historical forms that have been transformed over the years. Transformation occurred as individuals and groups reacted to the external influences of trade, technology and political events. With the incorporation of the global market economy and a greater variety of inspirations and products available in rural and urban areas, individuals and groups combined elements of traditional dress with modern forms to create dress that is distinctively Turkish. These multi-layered cultural authentications are incorporated into use with meanings that function to maintain a social order and act as a marker of social and cultural traits.

In this paper I present examples of cultural authentication in the dress of present-day Turkish women: Authentication of the t-shirt by both rural and urban women, and incorporation of current fashionable dress into a distinctive “Islamic Dress” for young women in the urban areas. The author discusses five features of the ubiquitous t-shirt that have contributed to its incorporation into the dress of village women and, in a different mode, urban women’s dress. In the case of the young Islamic women, a transformation occurred within the context of use, in which several components of fashionable dress offered in the larger market were combined to cover the body in a manner appropriate for expression of specific Islamic ideals.