January 15, 2022

What is a Pakistani Dress?

1. What is a Pakistani Dress?
2. History & Origin Of Dresses In Pakistan
3. The Making Of Pakistani Dresses
4. Five Popular Styles & Types Of Pakistani Dresses
5. Latest & Popular Pakistani Dress Trends
6. How/When To Wear An Pakistani Dress
7. What Makes Pakistani Dresses Popular?

You’ve probably heard about Pakistan’s undying love for the Shalwar Kameez in Pakistan. But chances are you’ve never heard of some of the many other beautiful dresses women love to wear here. While I’m doubly sure that no dress can take anything away from the Shalwar Kameez, you’ve got to realize that there’s more to this heavily diverse nation of 220 million (divided into four provinces) than just one dress. Again, the shalwar is not just any kind of dress, but what exactly is a Pakistan dress? Let’s find out!

Pakistani Suit in Velvet Fabric

Pakistani Suit in rich velvet fabric

History & Origin Of Dresses In Pakistan

While the Shalwar Kameez has always been the predominant national dress of Pakistan, the four provinces that make up the country have their own traditional dress dictated by their culture, weather, and other factors.

Traditional Pakistani suit - a beautiful shalwar kameez

In Balochistan, for instance, the women here mostly like the Balochi suit, which is the combination of a shalwar, a headscarf, and a long dress. The women here also like a few other traditional dresses, most of which tend to feature beautiful mirror work embroidery.

In the Sindh and Punjab regions, the national shalwar kameez is still the predominant fashion piece. For the shalwar kameez, its popularity began shortly after the Mughals introduced it during the 13th century. While Muslim women initially only wore it, it quickly spread across the Punjab region and eventually into many other places.

Lehenga choli - traditional Pakistani dress with a modern feel

The lehenga is another popular dress in Pakistan.

This dress is so loved that it’s often the first choice for many Muslim brides during their wedding. Like the Shalwar Kameez, the lehenga choli is also worn in neighboring India. But while the two variations also look a lot similar to each other, the Pakistani Lehenga has a more modern feel to it.

The lehenga choli consists of a lower lehenga - a long flared skirt, and the choli, a fitting blouse, both of which are usually printed or beautifully embellished. The lehenga-choli is then paired with a dupatta to cover the head and/or the mid-riff which might be left bare in some designs. Like the Shalwar, the lehenga came with the arrival of the Muslims in the north in the 13th century.

Saree - a complicated history

There was a time when sarees were popular in Pakistan and you could look anywhere and see them. But then politics entered and before you could say As-Salamu-Alaykum, this gorgeous dress was declared un-Islamic for Pakistani women.

Nowadays, everything seems to have returned to normal although the saree is no longer as popular as it used to be. This dress which is still worn informally in India is now worn formally in Pakistan on special occasions, and still enjoys a kind of acceptance among upper and middle-class families.

The Making Of Pakistani Dresses - Process, Fabric, Etc.

Early lehenga dresses were mostly stitched from cotton.

The use of fabrics like silk and brocade by the royals helped give the lehenga a royal status in its early days. Today, the Pakistani lehenga can be made from different fabrics from silk to velvet, satin, and net, among others. The modern lehenga may also feature different kinds of fabric from zardosi work to Resham and handwoven work, among others.

Making a lehenga choli is no small task.

Red Color Pakistani Suit

Red Color Pakistani Suit for Women

Because of the intricate stitching involved, a single lehenga dress could take as much as twenty days before it’s ready. Other factors such as whether the lehenga will be hand-woven as well as the fabric type and embellishments involved might even make this process longer because of the time factor and attention to detail that goes into making these Pakistani lehengas.

The shalwar kameez too can be made from almost any kind of fabric, from cotton to silk, velvet, georgette, chiffon, and more. The dress might also feature different kinds of embroideries and print work that usually contributes to its many diverse styles and looks.

Five Popular Styles & Types Of Pakistani Dresses

Straight to the point, here are five of the most popular ethnic dresses among Pakistani women in 2022,

  1. Lehenga choli: this dress is common among Pakistani brides, thanks to its gorgeousness. Different variations of the lehenga choli exist in both Pakistan and India. A lehenga is beautiful and can be styled with diverse embellishments, depending on the occasion. It can also be paired with one or two dupattas as your needs may be.
  2. Shalwar kameez: The shalwar kameez needs no introduction as the national dress of Pakistan.
  3. Balochi suit: this variation of the shalwar is popular among women of the Balochistan culture. This attire consists of a shalwar and long dress, complete with a scarf.
  4. Anarkali suit: Anarkali suit is a variation of the shalwar kameez usually styled as a long-frock dress-like garment. The Anarkali can easily go along with palazzo pants, shalwar, churidar, etc.
  5. Saree: this unstitched piece of fabric is usually draped around the body. Although it looks ordinary and simple, there’s nothing ordinary about the saree. It’s elegant and gorgeous to look at.
Couple of Women in a Pakistani dress

Couple of Women in a Pakistani dress

What are the fashion trends set to define the Pakistani women's fashion front in 2022? Check out some of the styles that set the trends in 2021, most of which are still expected to dictate the tunes this year as well;

  • Knee-length shirt/frocks: knee-length shirts and frocks became the ultimate casual wear of 2021 - they’ve always been around though. These shirt designs are simple yet elegant. They were big in 2021 and most likely will still be this 2022.
  • Lawn dresses with embellishments: lawn dresses with beautiful embroideries were also big in 2021. Looks like they are not going anywhere for the time being. In 2022, we can expect to see more dresses made from laces embellished with pearls and beads as well as from feather lace styles and net laces.
  • Light hues: white, pink, peach, and the other light hues also made a strong fashion statement in 2021. These hues are essential to spot a chic and refreshing look in the heat of summer.
  • Bangles and tassel earrings: Tassel earrings helped style attention-grabbing looks last year, pair this with matching light and attractive bangles and you can be sure to get that ultimate Pak girl swag.
  • Bell sleeve dress styles: 2021 saw many new dress styles one of the most popular is the bell sleeves style. We’re also ready to rock these beautiful style dresses with bell sleeve designs at their wrist or elbow sides this year.

How/When To Wear Pakistani Dresses

Different dresses are worn for various events and occasions in Pakistan.

The lehenga, for instance, is an elegant dress that’s great for most kinds of special occasions and significant events. You’ll understand why it’s the first choice of most Pakistani Muslim brides at their wedding.

The elaborately-made Pakistani lehengas and Anarkali suits can be worn to festivals and parties and paired with jewelry pieces of different kinds. And because of the various options in fabric, these dresses can be worn at different times of the year. While light fabrics like cotton and crepe are perfect for summers, heavier ones like silk and velvet are best-suited for winter.

Pakistani Suit in Anarkali Style

Pakistani Suit in Anarkali Style

Sarees are worn by Pakistani girls and women now on special occasions. The shalwar kameez, on the other hand, can be worn casually, depending on the style. Casually-styled shalwar kameez dresses can be paired with flip flops or even your wedge heel sandals. You can also style the dress with jewelry pieces like necklaces, bangles, and earrings, among others.  

The impeccable fashion taste of Pakistanis is one of the reasons why these dresses are so much loved. Pakistani clothes and dresses are as enchanting as they are cultural.

These dresses are like a visual piece of the history that defines Pakistan and its evolution over time. Luckily many of these pieces are iconic and gorgeous.

Embroidered Pakistani Dress for Girls

Embroidered Pakistani Dress for Girls

For a dress like the Shalwar Kameez, the biggest appeal has to be its simplicity and versatility. The dress is simply gorgeous - which may be why it’s a hit among the people everywhere in Pakistan. Other dresses like the lehenga choli, Anarkali suits, and more are also super gorgeous, which might explain why they’re the first choice for parties and special events and why everyone just can’t get enough of them!

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