Knowledge Base - Salwar Kameez

About Salwar Kameez
Indian women’s dresses have always been very fascinating and enigmatic. Cotton was the only cloth that was used in India in ancient times until silk got into production, which gave a new dimension to Indian tradition of clothing. The word saree was derived from a Sanskrit word which meant a piece of cloth.  Sarees are worn by women as sacred clothing in Indian festivals and occasions like Holi, Diwali, Durga puja and many more. As India is a very big country with many social and cultural divisions, many states have derived their own way of making and draping sarees. This is the reason why there are so many different kind of sarees that are in production and are used widely.
Salwar Kameez (also spelt shalwar kameez or salwar qameez). It is a unisex dress similar in manner to shirt and pants worn by both women and men in the west. Traditionally, it has been worn in Afghanistan and areas comprising Pakistan and north India. Shalwar or Salwar (as pronounced in India) are loose pajama like trousers. The legs are wide at the top, and narrow at the ankle. The Kameez (Kameez) is a long shirt or tunic. The Salwar Kameez has evolved as the most popular costume among the pan-Indian variety in the history of the textiles of India. It has emerged as the most comfortable and elegant apparel in the Indian wardrobes. Interestingly the Salwar Kameez which dates back to the medieval times has grown in popularity even among the elite ladies in the West. The traditional Salwar Kameez consists of Salwar - a pajama tied tightly at the waist with a string and is tailored in such a way that it tapers at the ankles. The 'Kameez' is worn over the 'Salwar' as a top. The kameez can be long and flared or Short and straight.The most commontraditional Salwar Kameez comes with sleeves up to the wrists, slits on the sides and a mandarin collar with buttons in front. The 'Salwar Kameez' is usually worn with a 'dupatta or the chunni'. You can opt for the traditional Salwar Kameez for everyday wear for comfort and mobility. Salwar Kameez helps keep cool on those hot sweltering days, as it doesn't cling to the body.The shalwar khameez can be richly decorated or simple for everyday use.
Today the Salwar Kameez comes in great variations and style from its traditional style. Be it in cotton or silk or any other fabric, he Salwar Kameez is a must in every woman's wardrobe. We can classify Salwar kameez into various categories depending on style of Salwars and Kameez. They are
  • Traditional Salwar Kameez
  • Churidar Kameez
  • Kurti/Kurta/ Kameez and Salwar
  • Designer Salwar Kameez
  • Parallel Suits
  • Pajami/Pencil Style Suit
  • Afghani/Patiala Suit
  • Traditional Salwar Kameez
The traditional Indian Salwar Kameez consists of Salwar - a pajama drawn tightly in at the waist with a string and is tailored in such a way that it tapers at the ankles. The 'Kameez' is worn over the 'Salwar' as a topper. The most common traditional Salwar Kameez comes with sleeves up to the wrists, slits on the sides, and a mandarin collar with buttons in front. The 'Salwar Kameez' is usually worn with the 'dupatta or the chunni'. You can opt for the traditional Salwar Kameez for everyday wear for comfort and mobility. The salwar kameez seems to offer limitless design possibilities.Cotton is the best salwar kameez as casual wear. They are cool, flowing and elegant. Fancy shalwar kameez are suitable for any occasion, casual or formal.Traditional salwar kameez are the ideal dress for going to temples, birthday parties, and eveningwear, while working at home or office.One of the most famous types of traditional Salwar Kameez is Printed salwar kameez. Different type of printing is done on fabrics like cotton, crepe and chiffon. Printed salwar kameez looks very pretty. It is not necessary that both salwar and kameez have to be printed. Most of the time the combination is Printed kameez with a plain salwar in contrast color.
Churidar Kameez 
(Churidar - excess length folds appear like bangles (churis) resting on ankles)
Churidars or more popularly called churidar pyjamas and are tightly fitting trousers worn by both men and women in South Asia and Central Asia. They are similar to skinny jeans but are made of fabric other than denim. Churidars are a variant of the common Salwar pants. This is one of the most popular variations of the salwar kameez today. This is similar to the traditional salwar kameez but instead of a 'salwar', women wear a 'churidar'. This is a tighter version of the 'salwar' accentuating the knees and ankles. This type of salwar kameez looks great on tall ladies, as it highlights their long legs.
Salwars are cut wide at the top and narrow at the ankle. Churidars narrow more quickly, so that contours of the leg are revealed. They are usually cut on the bias (at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric) which makes them naturally stretchy. Stretch is important when pants are closefitting. They are also cut longer than the leg and finish with a tightly fitting buttoned cuff at the ankle. The excess length falls into folds and appears like a set of bangles resting on the ankle (hence 'churidar'; 'churi': bangle, 'dar': like). When the wearer is sitting, the extra material is the "ease" that makes it possible to bend the legs and sit comfortably. The word "churidar" is from Hindi and made its way into English only in the 20th century.[1] Earlier, tight fitting churidar-like pants worn in India were referred to by the British as Moghul breeches, long-drawers, or mosquito drawers.
The churidar is usually worn with a Kameez (a form-fitted overshirt) by women or a kurta (a loose overshirt) by men, or they can form part of a bodice and skirt ensemble, as seen in the illustration of 19th century Indian women wearing churidar with a bodice and a transparent overskirt. Traditionally attired Kathak dancers, from northern India, still wear churidar with a wide skirt and a tight bodice; when the dancers twirl, the leg contours can be discerned -- as can be seen in many Bollywood movies featuring Kathak dancing.Churidars Suits can be worn either with short kameez or long kurtas. Because of their popularity, they are not just worn as a regular wear but also for special occasions. They are available in wide choice of fabrics such as silk, raw silk, cotton, prints, georgettes etc and in mesmerizing colors.
Kurti/Kurta Kameez  and Salwar 
This latest variation of the salwar kameez is very popular specially among working women and younger generation. TheKurti or Kurta are usually used to describe a shorter kameez. Most of the ladies prefer to wear these types of salwar kameez without the dupatta/chunni. With westernization the salwar kameez adapted to fashion changes in the West in terms of cut, length and hemlines. The kurta did shift upwards quite a few inches above the knee. And instead of the salwar, pants are worn, making it ideal for office and formal wear. The short kurtas came in different styles, some embroidered some plain.  The pants came in parallel, capris and bell-bottom styles. Kurta /Kurtis are available in various fabrics such as silk, raw silk, cotton, prints, georgettes etc and in vibrant and mesmerizing colors  The salwar kameez adapted to fashion changes in the West in terms of cut, length and hemlines. It was a long journey for this peasant attire from the fields of Punjab to the fashion capital of India, Mumbai. In the 1960s, the most sensational fashion discovery of all times hit the West - the mini. The skirt went an inch above the knee and then higher and higher till there was nothing left to the imagination. The Indian woman was not as daring but the kameez did sneak up quite a few inches above the knee. Fabrics, colors and designs can be matched with pants. The kurta by now had reached just below the hips.  Other innovations that followed the churidar kurta were the lungi kurta and ghagra choli. Sometimes the kurta was worn with bell-bottoms or denim pants. All these innovations that revolved around the kurta made it the most versatile garment of the 1960s and 1970s.
Designer Salwar Kameez
Designer salwar kameez has become very popular in western and eastern fashion world these days as it enhances the beauty and dignity of modern women. Fashion designers in India have tried various ways to this great apparel. Nowadays there are salwar kameez available with heavy embroideries made on the suits with zardosi, zari work and sequins. Lucknow is renowned for its famous chikankari suits. The forms of the salwar kameez have changed with the changing fashions of the times and today there are various traditional combinations like the Lacha/lachcha, Sharara, etc.
Parallel Suits
Parallel suit is another variation of the salwar kameez. It was a rage during the 80s and 90s, and is also catching up today with the younger generation of Indian women and many non-Indian women as well. Parallel Suits generally consists of the three pieces similar to salwar kameez. In this variation   kameez is shorter and above the knee. The salwar or pajama features a trouser like fit through the hips and thighs. It can either be straight down to the ankle like a trouser/pant or it can have a slightly flared leg similar to a boot cut pant as per your personal choice. 
This dress is great for special events like weddings, festivals, etc. If you are tall you can try the slightly flared look with embroideries along the leg or ankle. If you love to show off those tanned arms then you may opt for kameez with thin straps or get bold with completely strapless ones.
Pajami/Pencil Style Suit
This variation of the salwar kameez comes with pajamas (bottoms) that does not have as much length in the lower leg and does not wrinkle around the ankle like the churidar. This is known as pencil style suit for the cut resembles a pencil tapering at the ankle. However, there is usually no variation in the kameez. This style suits heavy ladies as it gives a very slim fitting leg look. This looks great in cotton and vegetable prints with bright colors.
Afghani/Patiala Suit
As the name suggests, this salwar kameez variation has its origin in Afghanistan and Patiala in Punjab. You would be amused to know that in Afghanistan both men and women wear this style of suits to get comfort from extreme weather conditions. 
This style also features the same three pieces style of thesalwar kameez (salwar,Kameez and dupatta) the difference lies in the cut and style of the suit. The salwars are very loose, featuring a multi pleated look. The salwar is very baggy and is often embroidered along the leg or ankle. The kameez is shorter than a traditional suit, ranging from mid-thigh to above the knee. 
This is ideal for slim ladies as it gives a fuller look. Try floral prints in summers and enjoy many admiring eyes turning at you.
Indo Western Salwar Kameez
The fusion of styles in Indian clothing and western clothing resulted in Indo western salwar kameez. These lady’s salwar kameez suits are specially designed to give western look with Indian tradition. An Indo western salwar kameez suit may have a sleeveless top and a salwar. Indo western salwar kameez suits also come in spaghetti straps instead of sleeves.
Designers have pioneered the concept of blending ethnic ethos and international trends to give a modern and trendy look to contemporary Indian women.
The cliché that dressing is done to please others has become passé. Today's generation wears clothes to please themselves. Even designers belonging to the younger generation carry the same chip on their shoulder. "Designer inspiration varies with attitude and the 'in thing.' Detailing is important. Today's generation wants to show off their body without appearing obscene," says NIFT graduate Gunjan Karmakar.
PartyWear Salwar Kameez
Party wear salwar kameez are made up of silk, satin, crepe and georgette fabrics.They can be worn on festivals or any celebrations. Feminine and graceful, the Indian Party wear salwar kameez is decorated with embroidery and mirror work. The dupatta is also in festive colors and has gorgeous embroidery and embellished beads,pearls,mirror work etc.
Indian Party wear salwar kameez suits come in many different styles. People prefer Party wear salwar kameez in silk, satin, crepe and georgette fabric embroidered with as many as eighty panels with ornate embroidery and mirror work.   Many could afford more intricate brocade, tanchoi and heavy satins even with real gold and silver embroidery, studded with precious stones.
Embroidery beautifies salwar kameez. Embroidery like every other art form, needs to be understood to be fully appreciated and enjoyed. Insight of the principles not only creates the urge to "paint" with needle and thread but also gives one the knowledge that enables a more keen perception of the old masterpieces as well as modern day pieces. There are no fix shapes and sizes of embroidery. It may vary from inches to feet.
Dupatta alternative names include chadar (in Pakistan), orni/odhni, chunri, chunni, orna and sometimes unni (mainly Gujarati) is a long, multi-purpose scarf that is essential to many South Asian women's suits. Some "dupatta suits" include the shalwar kameez and the kurta. The dupatta is also worn over the South Asian outfits of choli or gharara. The dupatta has long been a symbol of modesty in South Asian dress.
The origin of the dupatta can be traced to the Mohenjo-Daro civilization of the Indus Basin, where the use of textiles was highly prevalent[citation needed]. A sculpture of the Priest King of Harappa, whose left shoulder is covered with some kind of a chaddar, suggests that the use of the dupatta dates back to the early Indus Valley Civilization. From here it spread across the Indian subcontinent, especially during the rule of the Muslim Mughal Empire.
A dupatta is traditionally worn across both shoulders. However, the dupatta can also be worn like a cape around the entire torso. The material for the dupatta varies according to the suit: cotton, Georgette, silk, chiffon, and more.
There are various modes of wearing an unsewn dupatta. When not draped over the head in the traditional style, it is usually worn with the middle portion of the dupatta resting on the chest like a garland with both ends thrown over each respective shoulder. When the dupatta is worn along with the salwar Kameez it is casually allowed to flow down the front and back.
The primary use of a dupatta is to cover the head and/or any inadvertent cleavage and the contour of the bosom. However, the use of the dupatta has undergone a metamorphosis over time. In current fashions, the dupatta is frequently draped over one shoulder, and even over just the arms. Another recent trend is the short dupatta often seen with kurtas and Indo-Western clothing. Essentially, the dupatta is often treated as an accessory in current urban fashion.
When women wear the salwar kameez, they usually wear a long scarf or shawl called a dupatta around the head or neck. For Muslim women, the dupatta is a less stringent alternative to the chador or burqa.  For Hindu women (especially those from northern India where the salwar kameez is most popular), the dupatta is useful when the head must be covered, as in a temple 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.
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