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Home>South Asian Clothing 101

INDIAN CLOTHING 101

There are as many different styles of Traditional Indian clothing and Pakistani clothing as there are ways to wear them.  As "Bollywood" style has begun creeping its way into mainstream American culture, we thought it might be helpful to include brief descriptions of the various Indian clothing styles in our Didi's Wardrobe Resources.  Feel free to refer to these descriptions when describing the items you have for sale or deciding which outfit might be appropriate for your next big event!  We have also provided a What to Wear to an Indian Wedding and Classic Indian Fashion Must-Haves guide for more tips. And don't forget to check out our blog for the latest trends and different ways to wear each style of clothing. 

Getting married? Indian Bridal Lehengas & Saris at afforable prices. Also, check out ways to wear your dupatta with your Indian Bridal Lehenga Choli.

Click on the product links below to see further description details and Didi's tips for buyers.

 

 

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

The Lehenga or Ghaghra choli consists of three elements - a long flowing skirt (the Lehenga or Ghaghra), a fitted top (the choli) and a scarf (the dupatta).  The Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli also varies in its looks as per the areas or regions in South Asia.  They can be simpler styles with a full, round skirt and printed fabric or could be heavily embellished garments which look even more grand when teamed with bangles and Kundan jewelry that complete the look.  The choli can vary in length from very short, midriff-baring styles to longer, more demure styles.  In recent years, the mermaid-style lehenga, which is slim-fitting through the hips and thighs and flares out at the bottom has become more popular than the traditional lehenga and is always an elegant choice for weddings and other formal events. Click on our link to learn more about the Different Styles of Lehengas.

Occasions to wear a lehenga / ghaghra choli: Weddings, Receptions, formal events, Garbas

Didi's Tips for Buyers: The fit of a lehenga/ghaghra choli will vary depending on the style you choose.  A mermaid style skirt with a short choli will look best with a closer fit, whereas a full lehenga or ghaghra offer a much more roomy, looser fit.  Remember when you are buying a lehenga or ghaghra to also take into account whether or not you will be wearing shoes with the outfit and the size of your heels.  Ghaghra cholis are typically worn for garba, so you want to make sure the skirt length will work when you are not wearing shoes.  A lehenga, on the other hand, might be worn to a wedding or other formal event, so you'll need to account for a few extra inches if you like to wear heels!  There are also a number of different ways that one can wear the dupatta when wearing a lehenga or ghaghra choli.  Please check out our guide on the How to Wear a Dupatta with Lehenaga and Ghagra Cholis for more details.  As with a Salwar Kameez, the dupatta is typically sold with the outfit, but in the event the outfit you have your eye on doesn't come with one, you can improvise with a shawl or simply go without.  Buy Lehenga Cholis that fit your style from our extensive collection.

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Sari

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

The sari (or saree) is definitely the most elegant and classic style of clothing for women.  For those who are not already acquainted with a sari, it is a long strip of cloth that is always worn with a top or blouse.  A sari can be patterned or plain, it can have detailed embroidery or be almost sheer in its material.  The sari varies in length from four to nine meters.  One end of the sari is secured and pleated around the waist and the other is draped over the shoulder.  There are many different ways of draping a sari as well, which we show you in detail on our blog.  Traditionally, the blouse has short sleeves or is sleeveless, but blouses that incorporate halters, one-shoulder and backless designs are becoming quite popular as well.  Learn more about the saree through our History of the Indian Saree page. Don't know How to Wear a Sari? Consider purchasing a Pre-Stitched Sari.  

Occasions to wear a sari: Weddings, Receptions, Religious Events, Baby Showers, Pre- wedding activities, Engagement Parties (essentially, a sari is a great choice for any event).

Didi's Tips for Buyers: Whenever you wear a sari, you will also need (1) a petticoat and (2) a blouse.  The petticoat is a simple, cotton or satin skirt that is worn underneath the sari and is necessary to drape the sari over so that it stays in place.  The petticoat should be in a color which matches the sari and should not be visible underneath the sari.  Petticoats are typically sold separately from the sari and can be found for $10-$15 (search our site for a petticoat to complete your sari purchase).  The second essential item for wearing a sari is the blouse.  Blouses are typically custom made from a swatch of the sari material and are designed to be very form-fitted for the wearer.  Often times, a tailor will leave extra material inside the blouse so that the seams can be opened and the blouse can be made larger.  And, of course, if a blouse is measuring too big, it can always be taken in!  Lastly, if you are looking to purchase a sari which has never been worn before, another important feature to ask the seller about is if the sari has a "fall" in place.  The fall is a short strip of fabric which is sewn along the bottom, inside border of the sari and is necessary in order to give weight to the sari and allow the pleats to drape correctly.  It is a fairly simple thing to add on to a new sari and most tailors should also be able to do this for you for approximately $15.  Buy a sari that fits your style from our extensive collection. 

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Salwar Kameez

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

The Salwar Kameez is a flowing dress paired with a trouser bottom and always has three elements - the salwar (trouser), the kameez/kurta (top) and the dupatta (scarf).  The styles of the Salwar Kameez also vary and today we can see variations in the fit, lengths of the kameez, patterns and silhouettes as well.  A Salwar Kameez is often also referred to as a "Punjabi suit" because of its popularity in the Punjab province of India and Pakistan.  Traditionally, a Salwar Kameez features a long top that hits below the knee and very baggy trousers.  Today, the most popular styles of Salwar Kameez, besides the traditional style, are Churidar, Anarkali, Western fusion and Patiala.  Churidar suits are different than traditional suits in that the trouser is very tight from the knee down and is allowed to gather at the ankle.  Anarkali suits are characterized by a long top that almost looks like a dress and reaches anywhere from below the knee to just under the calf.  Traditionally, Anarkali suits feature a "babydoll" type dress and are worn with Churidar style trousers, but the latest designs are combining extra long, flowy tops with straight-leg trousers.  Western style suits have become very popular in the past ten years and combine straight-leg, flared or capri-length trousers with short tops that hit about mid-thigh. Lastly, Patiala suits are actually a very traditional style that has made a comeback in recent years.  A Patiala style trouser features pleated fabric along the waist and is generally worn with a top that hits about mid-thigh in order to showcase the pleating.  No matter which style of Salwar Kameez you prefer, they come in all kinds of designs ranging from heavily embroidered to very plain making them a perfect (and comfortable!) outfit for every occasion!  For more information about the salwar kameez and photos of the various styles, check out our piece on Different Styles of a Salwar Kameez.

Occasions to wear a salwar kameez:
Heavily embroidered – Wedding-related events; Holidays
Simple styles – Baby and bridal showers, Dinner parties, Community centers (temples, mosques, etc.)

Didi's Tips for Buyers: When measuring yourself for a Salwar Kameez, it is important to remember that the fit will vary depending on the style you choose.  Traditional styles are meant to be worn a little bit loosely, so make sure that you leave a few inches of room when taking your measurements.  On the other hand, the newer, Western-style suits are meant to be more fitted and should fit your body in the same way a suit from your favorite store at the mall would fit.  Another important aspect to keep in mind is that the trousers on traditional suits are very, very baggy on top and the waist often looks like two or three people could fit into the pants at the same time.  If the trouser does not have an elastic waistband, you will need to insert a drawstring in the waistband in order to cinch the trousers closed (which is usually included with the pants).  Most Salwar suits are sold with a matching dupatta (scarf), but in the event that you fall in love with one that doesn't have a dupatta you can always find a shawl or scarf in a complementary color or print, or just wear the suit without a scarf – anything goes these days!  Also, don't be concerned if the pant length on a churidar style suit seems abnormally long – remember, this trouser style is meant to gather at the ankle, so you may have a few more inches of material than on another style pantsuit.  Buy a Salwar Kameez that fits your style from our extensive collection.

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Kurta Pajama

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

A Kurta Pajama for men is very similar to the salwar kameez for women.  A Kurta Pajama consists of a top and bottom and is a clothing staple for South Asian men.  The kurta is a long, loose shirt that almost reaches the knees and the pajama is a lightweight, drawstring trouser.  Men's kurta pajamas can vary in style from very loose, baggy trousers (salwar style) to a tight-fitting churidar.  Men's kurta pajamas are generally simpler in terms of embellishments and embroidery than those for women and can be worn with or without a scarf or vest.  Occasions to wear a kurta: Wedding-related events, Religious events, Garbas

Didi's Tips for Buyers: Men's kurta pajamas are generally quite loose throughout, other than churidar style trousers which are more fitted from just below the knee through the ankle.  The churidar style trouser will probably measure a few inches longer than other styles because the material is meant to be bunched up around the ankle.  Generally, the trousers are very loose at the waist, and the waistband will need to be cinched with a drawstring (usually comes with the pants).  Depending on the occasion, you may want to dress your kurta pajama up, by pairing it with a vest or scarf, or down, by wearing it without any extra accessories.  Buy Kurta Pajamas that fit your style from our extensive collection.

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Sherwani

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

The Sherwani is another popular garment for men.  The Sherwani itself is a very heavily embroidered coat which should fit like a suit jacket and is generally worn with loose pants, churidar pants or even a dhoti.

Occasions to wear a sherwani: Weddings and formal events

Didi's Tips for Buyers: A Sherwani is a very traditional outfit choice for a bridegroom or members of his family and wedding party.  It is typically a very heavily embroidered outfit and is only considered appropriate attire for weddings or very formal events.  Buy Sherwanis from our collection today.

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Jodhpuri

Lehenga / Ghaghra Choli

A Jodhpuri Suit is a blend of Indian and Western taste.  Also known as "prince suit", it is very similar to a Western suit in that its main elements are a jacket, shirt and a trouser and can also be accompanied by a vest.  A jodhpuri combines the traditional Western cut suit with Indian hand embroidery and the very famous Nehru collar.

Occasions to wear a jodhpuri: Weddings and formal events

Didi's Tips for Buyers: The fit of a Jodhpuri suit should be similar to that of a traditional Western suit and your measurements should be considered accordingly.  Like a Sherwani, it is a more formal outfit and would be appropriate for a wedding reception or other formal event.  Buy Jodhpuris from our collection today.

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