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February 23, 2022

The Incredible Evolution Of The Salwar Kameez

Whether you call it the Salwar suit, Punjabi suit, shalwar kameez, or whatever you know, the salwar kameez is one piece of dress that holds a dear place and plays a significant role in Indian women's fashion. In this post, however, we’ll focus on the evolution of salwar kameez over time.

The Salwar Kameez is the traditional dress of the northern and Kashmir regions of India.

A Salwar Suit Design in Maroon

A Salwar Suit Design in Maroon

It’s also worn across the length and breadth of our almost 1.4-billion people country. Men also wear it although it’s more popular among women. The dress consists of a long shirt or tunic referred to as kameez and a trouser that could be wide, narrow, or baggy, known as the salwar. It may be paired with the dupatta; which is basically a shawl or scarf.

Origin Of The Salwar Kameez

The Salwar Kameez dress was introduced into Indian fashion and culture by the arrival of Muslims in South Asia around the 12th century. These dresses were later popularized by the Mughal Empire dynasty, a Muslim royal dynasty of Turkic-Mongol origin that ruled India between the 16th century to mid 18th century.

Legend has it that the Anarkali suit worn by courtesans of the Mughal palace was the earliest known form of Salwar Kameez in India. Courtesans of that era were often invited to the palace to perform the Mujra dress. The Anarkali-style dress they wore then was referred to as the Mujra dress. That dress was later renamed the Anarkali in honor of Lady Anarkali, one of the most prominent courtesans of the Mughal era.

An Anarkali Suit for Women

An Anarkali Suit for Women

Mughal women of that era made their dresses from the finest quality silk, velvet, brocades, and muslin. Different variations of the dress have evolved, over time.

Punjabi Salwar Kameez blends color, embellishments, and embroidery into its design. The loose kurta, which could be long or short, is usually paired with a baggy salwar that often narrows as it extends downwards.

Modern Salwar Kameez Styles & Designs

The Salwar Kameez worn today has evolved significantly from the Mujra dresses dancers wore to entertain princes within Mughal empire royal courts.

The modern Salwar Kameez now comes in different lengths and sizes as well as different styles and designs while still retaining its historical style and character. This evolution of Salwar Kameez has produced Salwar dresses of diverse kinds that include;

  1. Anarkali suits: a long, flowy, frock style top kameez paired with salwar trousers or churidar
  2. Patiala suits: consisting of a knee-length kameez paired with extremely baggy salwars stitched with pleats.
  3. Sharara: a lehenga-like variation of the salwar kameez with trousers that are flared and wide-legged.
  4. Gharara: this comprises a short kameez and a salwar that is fitted from the waist to the knee from where it then flares out to the toes.
  5. Palazzo salwar: this is a Western take on Indian dress with a kameez top paired with loose palazzo pants that stay parallel to your legs.
Sharara Dress for Traditional Women

Sharara Dress for Traditional Women

Salwar Kameez dresses have come a long way through history. The evolution of Salwar Kameez in India paints a very interesting picture and to a large extent, provides an insight into Indian fashion culture as a whole.

Designers today keep dishing out new designs that continue to build on conventional styles and designs. This dress continues to be a favorite for women in India as well as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, among others.



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