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The salwar kameez, also spelled shalwar kameez or shalwar quameez, is a traditional outfit that takes its roots from the wonderful continent of South Asia. Nowadays this dress is popular not only in Afghanistan, Punjab region, Pakistan and India but in many other regions all over the world. It consists of two individual garments: the salwar, loose-fitting trousers that are wide at the top and narrow towards the ankle, and the kameez, which is a shirt or tunic that covers the body. Although the term salwar kameez is used widely to describe different styles of dress, there are many different styles encompassed within this term and many variations. This clothes can be made from any fabric, such as silk or cotton, velvet or georgette, chiffon and many others and with almost any type of print or handmade embroidery on it. Some of the most popular and known styles and forms are Indian and Pakistani Salwar Kameez for women and men, Anarkali suits, Punjabi suits, Sindhi suits, Afghanistan suits, Patiala salwar and others.
The salwar trousers can be pleated and are gathered into the waistband. They can be wide or narrowly cut on the bias, known as churidar. The kameez can be various lengths and styles, from a straight and flat A-line design to a long and flowing dress-style. Some kameez styles feature side seams called chaaks, which are open below the waistline to create freedom of movement. The kameez may feature a deep or a shallow neckline, cap-sleeves, or no sleeves. It is common for tailors to display their skills by embroidering decorative patterns around the neckline, sleeves, hems, and chaaks of the handmade kameez
Who Is Salwar Kameez Worn By?
Asian salwar kameez is worn by both men and women, the styles of outfit also differ depending on the gender of the wearer. For women, the style is usually to have a collarless or mandarin-collar style. Women usually wear it with a long, sheer fabric scarf or shawl called a dupatta draped over the head or neck. For men, the salwar trousers are worn with a shorter tunic called a kurta, the men version of the kameez.
History and Origin
The salwar kameez has long and rich history. The outfit is thought to have originated from the Mughal Empire, and was worn by the Muslim rulers of India in the 16th Century. Traditionally, the salwar trousers were loose-fitting and long, gathered with a drawstring, and the ankles were stitched with narrow hems that resembled cuffs. The traditional kameez was also loose-fitting, knee-length, and featured long sleeves.
Another story of history is that the outfit originated from the Turkish-Iranian horse riding people of Central Asia in around the 12th Century, some of whom converted to Islam. When the Islamic Turkish-Iranian rule began, leading to the Mughal Empire, the salwar suit worn by the horse riders became popular. Some say it was invented to protect the body from dust storms. Whichever story is true, the outfit has truly stood the test of time. Originally, it was popular in the Punjab region and Afghanistan, but many different styles developed across South Asia and it became widely popular in India.
During history of Salwar Kameez different styles were popular in previous centuries, such as the suthan, but not all styles have stood the test of time. The most popular type is the Punjabi suit, originating from the Punjab region of northwest India and eastern Pakistan. It is cut straight and flat, with salwar that are wide at the top but fit closely to the leg, gathering at the ankles with a loose band. The Punjabi suit was also the first to take on board side slits for movement.
As time passes, the salwar kameez remaines a pinnacle of fashion for women and men, adapting to trends, styles and different cultures to keep its place in the modern world.
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