Features of the nomadic lifestyle of Kyrgyz people have been reflected in their national clothes. First, the clothes had to be light and comfortable, so that a nomad could comfortably ride on horseback. Second, the clothes had to be strong, but uncomplicated, so that it could be home-made. Third, it must reliably protect people from the cold, that is important in a mountain climate. The main materials for making clothes were coarse wool, felt, fur and leather. The noble families could afford expensive clothes made of fabrics from the towns of the Great Silk Road.
The outerwear is called “chapan”. The chapan is a kind of padded coat made of a strong and warm woolen fabric, with buttons and high collar. In winter nomads wore sheepskin coat named “ton” and fur coats “ichiks” made of fox fur, wolf or lynx. The main traditional shoes are boots decorated with colorful ornaments, with long tops and narrow toes.
Men wore wide trousers made of leather or suede, embroidered with colored threads (“chalbar”, “kandagay”), shirts (“keynek”) and felt robe (“kementay”). Noble and rich people wore jewelry. A male attribute of wealth in the clothing was a wide leather belt (kemer), decorated with various silver incuts.
The traditional women's clothing consisted of long white shirts or dresses (“keynek”) and long pantaloons. Young women wore sleeveless jackets of colored velvet (“chyptama”). Married women wore skirts with fur and patterned embroidery (“beldemchi”).
Headwear always played a special role in Kyrgyz traditional clothing. Ak kalpak is a white felt hat worn by men. It is one of the important symbols of Kyrgyz people. The hat in the shape of a turban made of fine white muslin is called “elechek”. Traditionally it is worn by married women.