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Salwar, Kurta & Dupatta - Ethnic Wear
Salwar & Churidar Suits are the most popular ensemble worn by women across India & Pakistan. The set usually comprises of a long tunic top with side slits & detailed neckline work. A loose fitting bottom with an adjustable drawstring waist called a Salwar or a fitted slimmer version called the Churidar are worn beneath the Kurta. A Dupatta is often draped gracefully across the Kurta front or swept on the left shoulder & arm. Join us on a quick tour of the much-loved Salwar & Churidar suit.
While the Kurta is a basic garment in most Indian women's wardrobe, today multiple styles & fits are available, with names that are often based on the shape of the garment or its origin. Here are some popular Kurta options with exciting features that are designed to suit most body types. Find out what suits you & your lifestyle best.
The Anarkali Kurta
Inspired by a Mughal legend, this Kurta is one of the most popular modern fit, appealing to most body types, due to its flattering shape. The Anarkali Kurta is fitted at the bust and features panels, tapered at the top & wider at hemline. This gives the Kurta a flowing movement around the legs like an umbrella. The length of the Kurta ranges from floor lengths to below the knees. Slender Churidars are best matched with the Anarkali Kurta.
The A-Lined Kurta
This kurta is fitted at the bust and gradually widens towards the hem, giving the impression of the shape of a capital letter A. The A-line kurta has no prominent detailing for ease of movement, such as panels or slits, but it is fitted at the bust with darts & seams, ensuring a comfortable but shapely fit. The length of an A-line kurta varies, between slightly below-knee-length to shin length. This is also a popular choice of kurta as it conceals heavy hips while maintaining a feminine look.
The Sherwani Kurta
s originally a men's long coat-like garment and is now commonly seen as an adaptation of the Churidar Suit for women. A regal shape, this open front Kurta has clean lines & non-fussy detailing, with prominence given to buttons & fastening. The stiff & often embellished stand or 'Nehru' collar is the distinguishing feature of this Kurta. The Sherwani is often made from heavier fabrics & thus a popular choice for occasion wear. Due to the narrow natur of this fit, taller & slimmer figures can carry off the Sherwani better. Slender Churidars or Slim Fitted Pants are best matched with the Sherwani Kurta.
The Straight Cut Kurta
The Straight or traditional kurta consists of rectangular fabric piece with gusset inserts, below the arm, is a simple shape with side slits for easy movement. Usually devoid of elaborate embellishment, Straight Kurtas may be detailed around the neck placket. The sleeves of a Traditional Kurta fall straight to the wrist or are 2/4 in length. Often the hem of the sleeve is embellished to match the neckline. Most body types can carry off this casual style.
The Asymmetric Kurta
This shape of Kurta is a modern & alternative take on the Anarkali or the A-Line Kurta since a wider hem shape is preferred for the asymmetric detailing. The fullness of this Kurta conceals wider hips & thighs, thus making it a good option for the heavier figure. As its name suggests, the Asymmetric Kurta has an uneven hem shape, & usually forms handkerchief shaped peaks.
Kurta with Waistcoat
A Waistcoat Kurta or vest is a sleeveless upper-body coat & is worn over a straight Kurta shape. Opt for an embellished waistcoat along with a plain kurta, so that there is a good balance in design.
To define the fit of the Kurta & the occasion at which it is worn, often the selection of fabric plays a vital role. Today, there are many options of beautiful fabrics available; find out which suits the shape & style of the Kurta of your choice.
Silk is a natural fiber, which is most commonly woven into textiles. Because of its shimmering, smooth & soft texture, this expensive fabric is considered one of the more preferred fabrics for occasion & festive wear. Raw silk, is usually the choice of fabric for constructed Kurtas, worn formally.
Cotton is natural, breathable & extremely durable, thus making garments in cotton a popular choice for daily use. As cotton accepts many dyes, a variety of print & dyeing techniques are available. Traditional shapes such as the Straight Kurta do best justice to cotton, due to it's stiffness.
Chiffon is a very sheer & lightweight type of crepe. The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel. Kurta styles that are flowy & require drape are best made in Chiffon. Along with rich embellishments, Chiffon makes elegant eveningwear.
Is a synthetic polyester satin fabric. Its properties are very similar to silk satin, as the surface texture is smooth & glossy. Phutki is a commonly used alternative to silk, as it is reasonably priced, strong & adaptable. Due to its sheen, Phutki is used in eveningwear Salwar suits.
Tissues, crepes, georgettes, nets, velvets & jacuards are all popular choices of fabric that are used in modern kurtas. The newer trends such as cut n sew patterns, use two or more fabrics to create interesting designs.
Typically, the Kurta is a knee length rectangular garment worn with a pajama or a salwar. Today, there are different lengths to suit varieties of bottom wear style & occasions. One may also select Kurta lengths to enhance their height & body type.
The Short Kurta
Is usually 32 inches in length and is also commonly known as a Kurti. This style of Kurta is basic with detailing ommonly seen around the neckline & sleeve openings.
The Short Kurta is preferably worn over the Patiala Salwar or Jeans, for a casual Indo-Western look.
Mid length Kurtas are those that end just above the wearers knees at 36 inches. As there is little room for styling, this Kurta is usually restricted to Straight fit or the A-Line fit.
The Mid length Kurta looks best with Salwar or Churidar bottoms.
The Long Kurta
Kurtas that fall below the knees & gently skim the shin area can be classified as long Kurtas. These are generally 38 inches in length. There is room for detailing & hence is the most popular length. The A-Line, Anarkali & Sherwani Kurta style are often seen in long lengths. Long length Kurtas look best with Churidar bottoms but can be also worn with Salwars.
Very Long Kurta
This graceful style is as long as 42 inches. Preferably constructed in flowing fabrics like Chiffon & fine net the Very Long Kurta is elegant & a preferred choice for evening wear. There is room for elaborate detailing at the hem hence the Anarkali Kurta style, with its wide & flowing hemline, is often the choice. Very Long length Kurtas are flattering & look best with fitted Churidar bottoms.
The sleeve length of a Kurta is a style detail, which often defines its functionality. For Example; Sleeveless Kurtas can be classified as casual or fashion while the 3/4 Sleeve length can be considered practical and so on. Here's a quick look at the varieties of sleeve options available in Kurtas.
The Sleeveless Kurta
With Indo- Western styling gaining popularity, most Indian garments are now adapting to garment patterns that are more western in concept. The Sleeveless Kurta is a style where a shaped or in-cut armhole replaces a sleeve. This style defines trendy fashion & can be seen in several versions of sleeveless & strappy styles.
The Short Sleeve Kurta
Classic & comfortable, the Short Sleeve Kurta is the definition of comfort & non-fussy dressing. This sleeve falls three to four inches on the arm & is often styled as a puffed sleeve. The Half Sleeve style is preferable for day-wear, especially in the summer season.
The 3/4 Sleeve Kurta
The sleeve hem of the 3/4 the sleeve Kurta falls an inch or two below the elbow. Because it allows easy arm movement, this style gives the garment a practical functionality, balancing elegance & comfort well. The 3/4 Sleeve often has light embellishment or fastening around the sleeve hem. Some modern styles can be turned us & fastened.
The Long Sleeve
Traditionally, the Long sleeve, which falls till the wrist of the wearer,is the standard style for most formal Kurtas. When a sleeve is constructed extra long & scrunched up to form fine gathers at the wrist, it is called a 'Churi' Sleeve. Today, with fabrics such as net & chiffon gaining popularity in eveningwear, the Churi Sleeve is often seen in these materials.
Bottom wear selections to match a Kurta style & length can often lead to disastrous results. Our easy guide to bottom wear styles will help you select a style that best enhances your Kurta!
Is a fitted bottom worn beneath knee to long length Kurtas. Because the fabric of the Churidar is cut on a bias, there is a slight stretch to the fitted garment- this allows the wearer comfort & ease. The garment is fastened at the waist with a drawstring, allowing the wearer to adjust the tightness of the fit. Today knitted options are also available for a better fit. The uniqueness & beauty of this garment is the 'bangles' or 'churis' formed at the hem, due to excess fabric incorporated in the pattern. Due to its streamlined nature, Churidars are best when worn beneath flowing & long Kurtas.
This drawstring fastened bottom is worn beneath a Kurta. The body of the garment incorporates multiple pleating at the seat area, thus making this bottom wear very comfortable. The leg is wider at the thigh area & narrows down at the ankles, occasionally with an embroidered hem. The Salwar is worn best below knee-length or above knee-length Kurtas.
The Patiala Salwar
Originating from Patiala, this bottom wear is similar to the Salwar in functionality. Its unique characteristic is folds of cloth stitched together that meet at the bottom, creating a fall of pleats. This gives the garment a beautiful draped effect. Short Kurtas are the best match to a Patiala Salwar. Due to its comfortable & breathable nature, the Patiala Salwar is a top summer choice.
Slim Fitting Pants
Slim Fitting pants give a svelte look to an Indian ensemble without the fuss of the scrunched up Churidar hem. This alternative to the Churidar also comes with a fixed waistband & fastening, similar to the western trouser, thus providing a smooth finish to the hips & abdominal area. This is a perfect choice of bottom wear beneath indo-western or fusion dressing.
The Palazzo Pant
Are long trousers cut with a loose, extremely wide leg that flares out from the waist. These pants tend to be flattering in light, flowing fabrics that are breathable in hot weather. Crepes, chiffons & other lightweight fabrics are popular for this design. These are often worn beneath very long Sherwanis & front open Kurta designs.
This is a Drawstring Skirt or Ghagra worn beneath a Choli, Sherwani or Kurta, pleated at the hip and flaring out to a loose & extremely wide hem. Constructed in Net, chiffon & other gauzy & lightweight fabrics, the Lehenga is usually richly embroidered & fully lined, thus making it a heavy garment for special occasions.