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Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am truly surprised that traditional Indian clothes have not made more of an impression in America.

As much as I love sari, I can understand that people find them intimidating, but salwar kameez suits are the ideal clothes!

From what I've heard, these originated in the North and Pakistan (probably originally a Muslim way of dressing, but now embraced by many because of how practical they are) and are sometimes called Punjab suits for that region. They are the best of both worlds between a dress and pants. Plus you don't have to worry about what pieces go together in an outfit.

Suits have pants of various different styles, sometimes very loose, sometimes tighter, and then a tunic over the top and a scarf called a dupatta. The scarf can be worn/draped in many different ways. The three pieces are designed to work together, so they are made of the same fabric and design. They are very beautiful and graceful, but you can also have a full range of motion in them because of the pants.

Try as a I might, I have not started a fashion trend of these in the West. I really don't understand why!

Here are pictures of a few different types of suits (these come from the website, which also has info on the history)

I buy mine from a variety of places: Ebay, Sari Palace (a store in MD), and My cousin also gave me some of her old ones and my parents got some for me when they visited India. You can even have these stitched to exactly match your measurements.

Here's one from

Saris are also not that hard to figure out and they are, in my opinion, the most beautiful and elegant clothing ever invented. I feel like a queen when I wear one.

(Image from AboutHinduism)

People of about grandmother age now often wear sari every day. My parents told me about seeing women helping to carry concrete to a construction site in India, all wearing sari.

There are also dresses called Lengtha Choli (they have other names as well). That consists of a top (choli, same as a sari blouse) and a long and flowy skirt. They also have a scarf. These are really fancy for a big party, but easy to put on and to wear. I have a lilac one that I frequently wear to weddings.

(Image from FashionMyDream.Blogspot)

I have heard that in India "ethnic" clothes have been looked down on in the past. Wearing traditional clothes makes you seem old-fashioned and there are night clubs that will only let you in if you are wearing Western clothes. But the West doesn't do everything better!

Thank goodness it looks like there are trends back to "ethnic" clothing, and now young people often mix a suit top (kurta) with jeans, etc.Trend in Indian Clothes

These really are wonderful clothes and better than so many Western styles!

Something interesting I've noticed is that in ancient cultures, it seems to be the women who hang onto the clothing. I was watching the Jessica Simpson Price of Beauty episode in Africa and it called to mind so many times of seeing a similar effect. There was a wedding happening and all the people from the African village gathered in their finest clothes. The women wore traditional clothing and the men wore Western suits. This seems to happen all over. I can tell you what the traditional Korean dress for women looks like, but have no idea of the men's. Often I see Indian women wearing traditional clothes each day and the men wearing Western (and part of that might be that in these cases the men have jobs in America and have to wear clothes considered appropriate to the American job market). At temple I see some men wearing kurta (long shirt) with jeans and only the priests wear dhoti. No judgement call on that, I just found it to be an interesting observation.

I hope that at least Indian inspired clothing will gain in popularity here because they really are comfortable, beautiful and practical. I really appreciate the Indian love of design and color.


  1. I wear my Kurta tops with jeans or long flowing skirts but I haven't worn a sari in years (since returning to the South and gaining too much weight for my cholis!). I also wear sari petticoats underneath my long "broomstick" skirts for modesty and length.. plus the ruffles look pretty under the skirts! Do you wear bangles? I wear them when we go out all the time and love matching them to my outfits. Sadly I am not so careful and tend to shatter them a lot.. so I only wear the glass ones when we go out to restaurants.

  2. My mum wears salwars to work here in Australia. Her friends love it when she wears them. We usually wear the sari to the temple/weddings/engagements and all those other important events. The salwars are just abit more practical for everyday wear. And enough said about the kurta and jeans combo, the best!

    I'm looking forward to my India trip this year, so I can shop till I drop. Indian clothes are a knockout. Could you post a picture of you wearing a sari Aamba?

  3. I forgot to talk about accessories! I'm terrible about remembering to put on jewelry, but bangles are such a requirement that I'm good with those now. I used to get chided by my Indian friends if I showed up anywhere without them. I don't think mine are glass. I got most of them in Little India in California, but I have no idea what they're made of.

    Dhurga, I will get the boyfriend to take a picture of me in a sari. I just bought some new ones on ebay, so when they come I'll show them off here! :)

  4. oh my...far too expensive to buy from those sites !!...whew !!! If u have friends visiting India .. I could just send them across to you for half the price!!!

  5. Oh Lakshmi, it's so true. You look at the prices and think, I know it doesn't cost even close to that to get these in India!

    Ebay has been my best source of reasonably priced clothes.

    Even buying in person at a store here, the suits I bought were half off at $50!

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