What is a Salwar Kameez?
Salwar Kameez suits are a three-piece Indian Ethnic outfit which originated within the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal era—initially limited to the Punjab region which explains the fact that they are still known as Punjabi suits. It comprises of a Kameez (a tunic), a Salwar (pair of trousers), and a dupatta (a scarf).
The difference in length and fitting is what sets salwar suits apart from the traditional kameez. A shorter version of the tunic is known as a kurta.
What are the different salwar kameez designs?
They are tight-fitting and have absorbed a modern look-and-feel vis-a-vis the traditional kameez. The dress fabric is suitable for the monsoon type climate typical of India and Pakistan.
Pakistani Salwar Kameez
Salwar Kameez Suits are very popular within Punjab, which is known to be one of the most colourful and culturally diverse states in India. With its fascinating rituals, flamboyant clothing, mouth-watering delicacies and high spirited people, Punjab can safely be called one of the most loved cultures in India.
Amongst the various aspects of Punjabi tradition, its clothing is something which has been widely adopted and is extremely popular all over the country. The vibrance of the Punjabi garb, with all its shimmering details, tells us a story of its glorious heritage and history. From the vivid colours of the turban or pagdi of Punjabi men to the much-loved salwar kameez, worn by the majority of Indian woman, the attire of Punjab has claimed the hearts of many Indians.
Different Styles of Salwar Kameez
In ancient Punjab, clothing of the people mainly consisted of a long, almost knee-length top, worn with a scarf draped around the shoulders and sometimes paired with another length of fabric, draped around the waist as a dhoti.
The clothes were made primarily from cotton, owing to the blossoming cotton trade in the state in the 19th and early 20th century. Various types of coarse cotton materials were manufactured all over the state. This is believed to have contributed to the richness of the Punjabi attire, and also to its popularity in the present day.
Over time, the Punjabis have modified their clothing, according to their comfort and culture, to form a distinct style which is now known throughout the world. Here is a list describing some of the traditional Punjabi clothing and their origin:
- Pakistani Salwar kameez: The origin of the salwar kameez dates back to the Mughal era, during which it comprised of a long tunic worn with loose pants, by most men and women. Also known as the Punjabi suit, it is the traditional dress of Punjabi women, the components of which are a kurta/ kameez, which is a long top with slits running waist down along the sides, paired with loose-fitting pants and complemented with a scarf of matching colours called the dupatta, worn across the shoulders.
- Patiala suit: Although there have been various versions of the salwar kameez over generations, the Patiala suit is the most popular and has been in trend since its creation by the weavers in the village of Patiala in Punjab. Which initially was meant to be attire for men, has now been donned by women as well. It is essentially a pleated pair of trousers, baggy at the waist, tapering towards the ankle and is generally paired with a matching kurta and dupatta.
- Phulkari: Known as ‘flower craft’, this is the traditional embroidery of Punjab. Originated in the 15th century, by the skilled hands of the Punjabis, it involves the sewing of colourful, intricate patterns, onto a piece of fabric. Many kurtas, dupattas, shawls have been adorned by the exquisite phulkari.
- Punjabi ghagra: The ghagra or lehenga is yet another one of the Mughals contribution to Indian fashion, which has been worn by women of various states in different forms. The Punjabi ghagra is a long, flared skirt of vibrant hues with an adorned hemline, which is generally worn by the women of Punjab while performing a folk dance called giddah.
Punjabis also have a range of authentic accessories, which add to the beauty of their traditional outfits. The turban or pagdi is a length of cloth draped around the head of Punjabi men, the vivid colours of which perfectly compliment their exuberant personalities.
Equally striking is their footwear called jutti, which is embellished with shimmering jewels and decorative stones and laced with silk threads. In addition to this, the use of the parandha is also extremely popular, which is a decorated hair accessory used by the women to make their hair appear longer.
The popularity of Pakistani Salwar Kameez in modern times
Punjabi clothing, like many other facets of Punjabi culture, has garnered immense love and has been well appreciated by the rest of the country. Amongst all Punjabi outfits, the salwar kameez and the Patiala suit are the most popular, and have now made their way to every woman’s heart and of course, her wardrobe.
Even though the salwar kameez and the kurtas have witnessed many transformations over the decades, they still retain their integrity and remain a much-loved piece of clothing among all people. The loose, a shirt like kurtas paired with trousers, for men, and a more body-hugging, tunic-like version paired with salwar or Patiala pants and a dupatta, for women are the most basic traditional looks followed till date.
The Patiala suit, majorly worn by women now, owes its popularity to the level of comfort it offers to the wearer, without compromising with its elegance and style. These outfits are highly versatile and have been styled in numerous ways to suit the contemporary fashion trends.
When worn with an embellished kurta and dupatta, it gives a perfect ethnic look for any occasion. Choose a long top instead and pair it with a dupatta in neutral tones for a more classy approach. Or pair it with a simple tunic for a casual feel and with a tee to give an indo-western vibe. May it be casual or classy, the salwar kameez and Patiala suit have thus always complimented the style and grace of an Indian woman.