Significance of Type of Indian Dresses

11 months ago / by Team SEEMA
Type of Indian Dresses
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Types of Indian Dresses

In India, it’s not uncommon for you to see men wearing clothing that’s every bit as festive and decorative as women’s apparel. Dress and gender norms have a different set of values, and the use of color and style are highly significant. So don’t be surprised if you see bright reds, colorful pinks, or light blues worn by a variety of people. If anything, this style of dress has most likely been the code since the dawn of the Indus Valley civilization. Over the years, there have been a few changes in how people dress. However, some traditions still remain strong, and there are still a few differences in dress styles among men and women.

Are There Any Differences in Clothing Styles?

Men’s and women’s wear are similar in color but different in structure. For men, there is the dhoti, the sarong, or lungi, and the anchkan. For women, it’s typically the lehenga, the kurti, and the sari.

Men’s Wear Explained

There are standards of men’s dress which are native to Indian culture. It’s not uncommon to see all men wearing clothing that resembles a type of a dress, whether it’s casual, business, or for ceremonial reasons. Each item of clothing goes well with the versatile turban, a simple woven head cloth that’s usually white. In any case, you can wear most items in formal as well as informal settings.

Type of Indian Dresses: Dhoti

If you’ve ever visited an urban village in India, you may notice one thing. Men in the village wearing these long, robe-like outfits, usually over a set of pants. Known as the dhoti, this style represents a deep spiritual side to the person who wears it. It comes with trousers that are so loose that they are often mistaken for a dress or skirt. The word is derived from Sanskrit. It means,”to cleanse or wash.” The garment must be clean and free of dirt and odor, as not doing so violates ancient traditions. The dhoti worn by men must be properly cleaned in order to uphold its sacred value.

Seamless versions of this traditional type of apparel abound as part of Jain culture. In some cases, there is an emphasis on not using any type of hems due to beliefs about threads attracting pollution. However, modern styles include tighter pants and allow a shirt to be worn on top of it. If you look around you, you’ll take note of the fact that loose dhoti are worn by political and religious leaders as well as dignitaries. They are also a part of a groom’s formal wear during a wedding ceremony.

Type of Indian Dresses: Sarong

Also known as a panche or a lungi, the sarong is festive enough for almost any occasion. You may come to appreciate it’s versatility as well. A cousin to the formal dhoti, the sarong leaves more room for your imagination. The garment is flexible enough for the workplace or to be worn within a house of worship. It’s all a matter of how you choose to wear it. Some places call for you to tuck the sarong in as a mode for showing respect for others.

In the workplace, you might be expected to wear the sarong such that you tuck it in. You do this as a means of being practical so that the sarong doesn’t get in your way while you’re working. Factories and other places may even require this measure for safety reasons. A piece as long as a sarong could get caught in machinery and get stuck. As a result, you could run the risk of injury.

Places of worship take different approaches as to how a sarong should be displayed on your body. These light, airy masterpieces are good for virtually any occasion, whether it’s a day around the house, an important work meeting, or a casual stroll along the beach. What’s more, there are many brilliant colors you can choose from according to your moods. Red can motivate while gold or yellow inspire you. For men, the sarong is usually worn with a white button-down shirt as a means of honor and respect.

Type of Indian Dresses: Anchkan Sherwani

Steeped in classic Indian tradition, the anchkan sherwani can only come in a single word: royal. This fine, regal classic is typically light in color with several metallic-looking decorative inlays. Apparel such as the anchkan sherwani count mainly as India’s best in formal wear. The reason for this is relatively simple: you can wear it with the dhoti for your wedding celebration. That is, if you’re the groom. But where else can you wear it?

Turns out you can wear it almost anywhere during a formal occasion. A solid garment such as the anchkan sherwani is good for most important situations, even among leaders. Those in higher authority tend to favor the anchkan sherwani as a symbol of power and prosperity. The only thing to note is that anchkan and sherwani are sometimes separate. This is mainly because the sherwani is a little longer in length. It can be worn more below the knees, whereas the anchkan is usually a little too short. However, both could pass for overcoats to a degree.

These overcoats are topped with a rounded collar and are best when completed with a necklace of your choice. A thick, gold chain could bring out the gold in an anchkan that’s a soft beige color. You can add a hint of the Western culture by adding a pair of laced-up black or deep brown boots. They can even out the dhoti’s loose trousers and offer you more sophistication in the long run.

Type of Indian Dresses: Bandhgala

Get even more formal by sporting the fancy bandhgala. You can wear this one as a dark colored suit for your favorite monumental occasion. The coat resembles the Western blazer in that it’s much shorter than most traditional men’s coats from India. The jacket became modernized around the 19th century, right around the time that India was colonized by Great Britain. A good bandhgala should have a rounded collar and be snug enough to fit around your waist so that you can wear it comfortably for several hours.

But the bandhgala is more than just a simple coat. In fact, it’s a complete suit with trousers to match. It is the direct descendant of the angarkha, another traditional Indian dress style with a short skirt and long, puffy sleeves. Both have been used among the educated classes as a way of expressing status and as a means of formal wear throughout the centuries. The angarkha resembles a men’s formal gown, whereas the bandhgala comes with pants. Consequently, the latter would be considered more masculine by Western standards.

Type of Indian Dresses: Turban

Originally coined as the pagri, the Indian turban is most commonly worn in the Bangladesh region along with Indian men’s dress. You would typically choose to top off your outfit with one of these for religious reasons such as a temple wedding. In the Islamic tradition, you’re most likely to see these being worn by religious leaders. The turban is highly transparent and looks best when you pair it with the dhoti or a bandhgala. It’s even more versatile with a sarong or an anchkan sherwani. You simply weave the cloth at the edges to form a crown for a better quality fit.

Now that we’ve covered a broad expanse of men’s dress styles, we should take a closer look at traditional women’s apparel. We’ll examine what’s trending in today’s Indian women’s wear with a hint of timeless traditional dress.

Women’s Wear Explained

Women’s wear is only a slight variation from men’s in that it’s colorful and comfortable. There are different situations or occasions that dictate what should or should not be worn by women. You can check out each explanation to see for yourself what might work best for you.

Type of Indian Dresses: Mekhela Sador

A two-piece beauty such as the mekhela sador knows no bounds. You can wear it regardless of your age or status. It does appear to somewhat resemble the traditional lehenga except that it most likely isn’t as formal. The mekhela sador comes in two pieces. The sador, otherwise called the chador, is your upper piece. It is the blouse that fits well across your shoulders and stomach regions. This colorful piece is made to go with the mekhela, or skirt. The bottom portion is extremely long, almost to the ankles. Colorful but modest, the mekhela sador bears a sweeping resemblance to the traditional medieval style lehenga.

Type of Indian Dresses: Salwar Kameez

The salwar kameez is the female equivalent to the men’s dhoti in that it consists of long silken pants, otherwise known as the salwar. These pants are extremely loose and are worn with an upper tunic which makes the while outfit look just like your average fancy dress without the skirt. Although this one is not entirely exclusive to women, it is still popular among the ladies of south and centtral Asia. The pants are very wide at the waist and are usually held together by a drawstring. This allows them to pleat and billow out, which makes them both comfortable and stylish.

Type of Indian Dresses: Churidaar

The churidaar is a cousin to the salwar kameez in that it has loose trousers that bunch up on or around the waist. The greatest difference between these and the salwar kameez is that the pants portion is a little more snug and not as loose, especially around the legs. Known as pyjamas, these can make excellent casual attire for wearing around the house or outdoors, depending on your mood.

The churidaar have a narrowness around the ankles that can remind you of what drainpipe trousers might have looked like back in the day. The design allows you extra comfort when sitting down or bending, especially around the knees. You can pair these fancy pants up with a matching tunic of your choice topped by your favorite sari.

Type of Indian Dresses: Anarkali Suit

With an anarkali suit, you might be looking at something with a classic Victorian twist. The top part is a bit snug but still comfortable. The bottom consists of a long, sweeping skirt that’s floor length. It almost resembles a Victorian hoop skirt except for the fact that it comes straight down to the ankles instead of in a flowing loop. Each suit is ornate with classically thin lines which form intricate patterns. Some represent traditional Oriental iconography. Other suits are simply one color.

An anarkali suit makes a beautiful formal gown for many occasions, including your own wedding. You can wear it on a first date or to a job interview and make a good impression. The anarkali suit has historical ties that go back to the Mughal Empire. The term for the famous outfit was coined after an ancient courtesan of the exact same name. And from there a famous suit was born.

The real beauty of the Anarkali suit is that each skirt flows regardless of length. Although most of the skirts are below ankle length, some can be as short as below the knees. The only common item is in how the skirt lays, which is snug at the waist and flowing near the legs.

Type of Indian Dresses: The Lehenga Choli

If you’re looking for a two-piece suit, the lehenga choli is the perfect one for you. The choli is the top piece while the lehenga is the skirt, or the bottom. They are separate but are used together to make a good, formal outfit.

The lehenga is a ceremonial dress style that’s most common for occasions such as family weddings. If you plan on wearing a lehenga to a wedding or major festival, then chances are that you will be getting one that has a specific type of embroidery. Known as the gota patti, this iconic design is a pure reflection of the decorative culture behind the Indian subcontinent. The way you apply it is by using a special kind of ribbon known as a zari. The zari is what you see when you look at the gold inlays on your skirt. It’s sewn by hand into the skirt in such a way that it’s actually woven into your skirt. It creates a beautiful pattern where threads made of authentic gold and silver are used.

Type of Indian Dresses: The Kaftan

So many women’s dresses are so similar to each other that it’s become near impossible to tell them apart. But the most interesting fact is this: the kaftan is not a dress. It’s actually one big floor-length blouse that happens to resemble a dress. And since anyone can be fooled into believing that the kaftan is an actual dress, it can easily pass as formal wear. You can wear it at a wedding or any other major lifetime event.

Color, Design and Tradition

India’s use of color in dressmaking has strong cultural and historical implications that go back for centuries. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that most vibrant colors are considered good luck. In fact, they indicate prosperity for the person who wears them. Red, for example, is considered the standard color for a bride during her wedding ceremony. The color is known to indicate fertility and prosperity, and may even be known to bring good tidings to newlyweds. Wearing red meant you had passion, and it wasn’t uncommon for grooms to present their brides with red vermillion as a festive adornment.

Orange is a popular color for dress wear like the sari. Most saris typically come in yellow, orange, or red, or a combination of any of them. Orange has long been hailed as a color that means courage, and that’s the reason it’s most popular among spiritual leaders and gurus. It serves as a unifying color for love and wisdom, which may explain why you’d see some women wearing it today. Adding yellow gives a good sari a nice, earthy touch. And with yellow representing the earth, it comes as no surprise that there is a truth to it.