Salwar Kameez – C’est Quoi?

As promised, a bit of an explanation on what a salwar kameez is…

This outfit is worn in many parts of Central and South Asia. It is only one type of traditional dress for South Asians, who also wear saris and lehengas.
The name of the outfit is descriptive of the items made up to wear it. Salwar (or shalwar) is a loose pair of trousers, often held up by a drawstring, but can also be elasticated or zipped. Kameez is a long top, similar to a tunic. The third item that makes up this outfit is a dupatta, which is a type of shawl/scarf that can be worn around the neck, over the head, or any other way. Men, too, wear the salwar kameez (also known as akurta pyjama or punjabi).
The dupatta can be worn in many different ways…
Wrapped around the neck…
…Or pushed behind!
Vahni and Luinae wanted to know if I had any tips for those wanting to wear this type of clothing, so here you go…
The salwar kameez is very comfortable and can also be quite covering, so it is the perfect modest outfit for when foreigners visit South Asia. However, growing up in Bangladesh, I noticed that most foreigners who attempt to wear the salwar kameez choose ill-fitting styles and garish prints. So, my advice is: apply what you know about your own clothing culture to the salwar kameez as well. Just because the kameez is a flowy top doesn’t mean it has to envelop you like a sheet! I’m sure you normally make sure your trousers and blouses fit you properly, so put the same care into wearing the salwar kameez; make sure the pieces aren’t baggy and unflattering. And choose prints/colors that you would normally wear; if you shy away from bright colors when you wear your usual style of clothing, opt for the same color palette when you are choosing asalwar kameez. This will make you feel more comfortable which ultimately will make you look much better!
Some ladies cover their heads with the dupatta –
this is sometimes done while praying or as a form of respect
In the summer heat, many places blast air conditioning on full, making it unbearably cold indoors; that’s why I sometimes wear the dupatta as a shawl!
If you’re interested in South Asian clothing, stay tuned for a post on my personal favorite type of clothing, thesari – what it is, how to wear it, where to buy one, and more! I’ve also now included a South Asia tag so you can browse through my posts on South Asian outfits.

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