Posts Tagged ‘types of indian garments’

ne of the most remarkable features of Indian apparel is the ingenious way in which a simple length of unstitched cloth is used. Gracefully drapped as a sari, or wrapped around the head as a turban, the length of fabric is versatile and is worn by men and women. Today, despite the growing influence of contemporary Western fashion trends, most Indians continue to dress traditionally. Stitched garments include the kurta (for men), kurti (for women), pyjama, sherwani, lehenga choli and of course, the trouser, shirt and ubiquitous blue jeans. The sari, particularly, is still worn all over India, even though the style of draping it differs from region to region.


Shalwar Kameez

The court nobles of Ottoman and Qajar dinasty upheld Shalwar Kameez as their court costume, hence, this royal background made it reach the heights of fame. It was imported to India by the Muslim invasion that set off in the 12th century. The Turko-Iranian regime of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Moghul Empire in India sustained the tradition of dressing in Shalwar Kameez. The rest of the story is the rising of this garment to popularity.

It has received the greatest embrace from North India, especially the region of Punjab, and sometimes it’s called “Punjabi Suit”. This is the national dress for both men and women in Pakistan and Afganistan.

Sometimes shalwar is pronounced salwar but basically both are referring to same outfit. The word “salwar” or “shalwar” comes from the Persian that means pants and the word “kameez”  comes from the Latin “camisia” from which it probably made its way into various European languages (chemise) and into the Arabic as “quamiz”.

The shalwar or salwar is a sort of loose pyjama like trouser. Traditionally it is wide from top. It has 4 to 5 inches belt attached to rest part of the shalwar which is pleated. Upper part of the belt has tunnel for drawstring. Normally the traditional shalwar size from top at waist is almost double as the actual size to make it comfortable to wear. It has big room at the thigh area and almost double bottom size  as the circumference of the ankle so as to make proper space for the feet to put inside for wearing.

The kameez traditionally is long up to knee with wide circumference (gher) and with full sleeves. It is almost fully covered  from the back as back neck line depth like 2-3” and medium low at the front like 6-7” inches as front neck line depth.

The dupatta (scarf or shawl) is the third piece of the Shalwar Kameez set. It is usually worn around head or neck.

For Muslim women, the dupatta is a less stringent alternative to Chador or Burqa.

For Hindu women (especially those from Northern India), the dupatta is useful when the head must be covered as in temples or the presence of elders. For other women, the dupatta is simply a stylish accessory that can be worn over one shoulder or draped around the chest and over both shoulders.

Shalwar kameez are made of  lot of materials as plain cotton, rich silk, tussar, crepe, georgette, shiffon and other types of fabric available. The several designs include sequin embroidery or semi precious stones embroidery; mirror work, artwork, cut-work or simple prints, hand paintings, etc

The style of Indian Shalwar Kameez varies as:

  • Traditional shalwar kameez
  • Churidar shalwar kameez
  • Patiala shalwar kameez
  • Anarkali shalwar kameez

The Traditional style is the baggy style pants and a full sleeve tunic but nowadays the contemporary outfit follows the trends set by the fashion industry. The Bollywood film industry is a great trendsetter. The shalwar kameez that Bollywood actresses wear in movies are lapped up by their fans. Soon, a particular outfit design made popular by a movie actress will be seen on the display windows of showrooms.

Churidar style is quite popular amongst the Indian community. The bottom part of the garment has a different design as compared to the traditional style.It is sleek in look and has leg shape fitting with less amount of thigh and upper space. At bottom it has small hole with hooks or thread to close the bottom at the ankle. It is longer than traditional shalwar for spiral shape look at the bottom. Churidar has different designs as per the market trend and requirements.

Patiala style is similar to traditional style except that Patiala shalwar has more pleats and big fall comes on wearing at back. This design has a special historical background. There is a story behind the name. Patiala is a place in Punjab at North India. In ancient times, Maharaja (King) of Patiala was very famous. His dress was a pleated and baggy type shalwar with long loose kameez with full sleeves. He used to wear this dress as a king and for comfort also. In the new modern era, the women community copied his dress and named Patiala.

Anarkali style is a long kurti with short, full and half sleeves, but tight at arms, fit and tight above the waist and below the butts like an umbrella. It is sometimes called Anarkali Umbrella Kameez. Anarkali means pomegranate blossom and she was a legendary slave girl from Lahore (Pakistan) during the Mughal period. Her name was Raj Nartika and she  was a dancer at palace of Great Mughal emperor Akbar. She was supposedly ordered to be buried alive by Mughal emperor Akbar for having an illicit relationship with Prince Nuruddin Salim later to become Emperor Jahangir. Due to the lack of evidence and sources, the story of Anarkali is widely accepted to be either false or heavily embellished. Nevertheless, her story is cherished by many and has been adapted into literature, art and cinema.

The dance called mujra or mujara was famous that time. Famous dancers at palace of Mughal kings dance for entertainment of Mughal kings. So, the dresses were worn by the dancers while mujra dance called as mujra / mujara dresses. Later they got famous by name Anarkali dresses or Anarkali shalwar kameez in the remembrance of a great dancer and a passionate lover Anarkali.

Latest designs of  Anarkali dresses are popular and in fashion trends wearing with different prints, materials, embroidery work, different designer sleeves and stylish necks.

Shalwar kameez also appears as a part of men wardrobe.

Different companies in India offer ready made shalwar kameez or unstitched  material which can be sew as per given measurements. It is a sort of pre designed kit of three pieces, tunic, pants and dupatta.



The kurti is a tunic and it is related to Roman civilization. It was a common clothing wear under toga (like a long sari) by male community. In ancient times, tunic used to indicate the wearer’s status in Roman society by the presence of stripes and ornamentation work on it.

In Western culture it was mainly used as religious uniform but from last few years when Indian kameez or Kurtis (for ladies) got popularity in Western society it became part of the global wardrobe. It is usually worn with parallel pants or jeans. These are available in different fabrics e.g. silk, cotton, chiffon, crepe, etc and different type of work e. g. sequin, beaded, embroidery,  etc



Times of India


Lorena Mena







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