Prior to the Mughal invasion, in the 16th Century, the traditional dress of Indian women was saree. The Muslim rulers brought in “salwar kameez” which was, until then, totally unknown in Indian fashion. Along with the Mughal rulers, Persian fashion too crept in silently. Although the prestige and fashion of sarees were never totally dismantled, this dressing style, that consisted of a loose trouser tied at the waist or the salwar, and a long tunic (kameez), steadily became hugely popular.
A complete salwar suit comprises three pieces, a salwar, a kameez and a dupatta or a scarf that the women use to cover their shoulders and head. The decency of the garment, yet its gracefulness broke through the court yards of the Mughals and found its way in the mass. The North Indian culture adapted this fashion wholeheartedly unlike the remaining parts of India and soon “salwar suits” became their custom style. In fact over the years, salwar suits became the emblem of the people of Punjab.
The traditional salwar kameez suits that were once “foreign” and unknown gradually became so popular that now it is considered national dress of Indian women along with saree.
Reason behind the popularity of salwar suits in India:
- It is comfortable to wear- the looseness of the garment made it comfortable to wear, despite the heat of Indian climate.
- It is easy to wear- The concept of trouser and tunic makes salwar suits easier to wear and carry, unlike saree. It gives the carrier much more freedom of movement.
- It is versatile- Salwar kameez suits can be made to suit women of any age and any size. It looks good on all. The scope that it gives to be made into any style and design, modern or conservative, is another reason behind its popularity.
Different types of salwar suits
The original salwar kameez suits that the Mughal invaders brought into the Indian culture gradually took several transformations. Initially, the tunic, or the kameez, was ankle or feet length that almost reached the floor. It was worn with a tight-fitting trouser or a churidar, and a veil or a shawl that covered the head. Although this ensemble is extremely graceful, elegant and is designed to impart a royal look, it was not suitable for the mass or the working class. The style that the common people adapted was practical and convenient for regular wear. The tunic was made much shorter so that it just covered the knees, and the trouser was made looser to allow air and ease of movement.
The original style, known as “churidar kameez”, however, was not discarded. It remained for more formal and occasional wear.
Even to this day, salwar kameez suits are hugely popular among all Indian women. The Indian film and fashion industry has accepted this attire with open arms due to its versatility. Over the years there have been continuous successful experiments with the length, cut and flair of the kameez or tunic and looseness, shape or the trouser or shalwar.
If you are fond of this traditional Indian attire, you can easily find them in all retail garment stores. You can also get your Salwar Kameez online. Very reputed stores have a huge variety of salwar suits in a wide range of sizes, colors and styles. Be it for regular wear or for a very traditional, formal occasion, this ethnic wear is accepted everywhere.