Call it a Punjabi dress, a Patiala suit or a salwar kameez suit – it all means the same thing. The reference is to the traditional dress popularised by the womenfolk of Punjab, a state in the northern corner of India. Inspired by the dresses worn by the invading Mughal royalty long ago, this ensemble of salwar kameez with odhni has become a rage all over India in modern times. In fact, experimentations with diverse fabrics, patterns, prints, cuts, and embellishments continue even today, with each designer trying to outdo the other with his/her innovative ideas!
Salwar Suits of Then
Considering, that the conservative Mughals played a great role in introducing this fashion into India, the output could not have been anything less conservative! The salwar was the bottom wear, not exactly the imitation of loose trousers/pants, but wonderfully loose, roomy and comfortable. The upper part could be fastened at the waist with the aid of an adjustable drawstring. There were pleats too, to increase the airiness. This wide, balloon-like portion became narrower, as it flowed to the bottom, that is, the ankles.
The kurta/kameez, which was the top, tended to be knee-length in appearance. The seams at the sides were cut open, just below the navel. As for the sleeves, they tended to be long-sleeved or three-fourths in nature.
A long scarf played the role of the dupatta, wherein the wearer folded it over the shoulders, placed it around the neck, or covered the head with it.
Salwar Suits of Now
You may not be aware of it, but fashion designers are well aware that this is one of the most versatile of all women’s clothing. It is possible to turn even the most conservative of Punjabi suits into a stunning display of refined elegance and charm! In fact, even the international landscape is not immune to the allure of this marvelous ensemble!
To illustrate, look at the fabrics that come into play. You may go for attractive prints on cotton material, to remain cool during the hot summers. Then again, you may select silk, satin, velvet, cotton mixes, polyester, net, georgette, chiffon, etc, in accordance with the occasion. In fact, the Punjabi dress is a common sight at parties, engagement ceremonies, anniversary events, weddings, celebrations, etc. You should find designer dresses at physical boutiques or online stores easily, wherein you may purchase inexpensive, affordable or costly dresses.
Your Style is Your Own
If you are bored with the traditional salwar, you may decide to substitute it with a slim and trim churidar, a beautiful pair of parallel trouser pants, good-looking palazzos, dhoti, etc. As for the kurta/kameez, go for the Anarkali, A-line, straight cut, high-low, etc, pattern. Similarly, necklines may range from the subdued to the daringly bold. For instance, high collars, round necks, V-pattern, halter style, sweetheart look, keyhole appearance, boat-shaped, etc. If you so desire, you may do away with the sleeves completely, too!
It helps that textile manufacturers are experimenting with dazzling prints and vibrant colors. You could have complementary or contrasting shades on the same piece of cloth. Embellishments or decorations only add to the overall charm of the ensemble. You could opt to have intricate embroidery patterns (handcrafted or machine-made), ethnic motifs, all kinds of work (stone, mirror, bead, Pearl, gold/silver threads, zari, etc), designs (depicting flowers, fruits, leaves, animals, birds, etc), kalamkari patterns, Resham/Phulkari work, etc. In fact, couturiers strive to find inspiration from India’s rich heritage itself! There are traditional crafts, techniques used for weaving and textiles.
However classy and sophisticated your salwar suit, it will look incomplete without the right accessories in place. For instance, your jewelry, whether it is created from gold, silver, metals or precious stones, must add to the glitz and glamour of your ensemble, albeit in a gracefully chic manner. If the occasion warrants, opt for the unconventional, such as jewelry items designed from terracotta or oxidized material.
As for handbags/purses/clutches, be slightly elaborate and outgoing in your choices of style and color. The same goes for ethnic or modern footwear. Thus, if you stock up your wardrobe with a few sets for all occasions and all seasons, you will never fail to make a fashion statement wherever you go!