Indian fashion varies from one village to another village, from one city to another city. India’s fashion heritage is rich in tradition, vibrant in colors and prepossessing. Bold colors created by the inventive drapes of these textiles catches the imagination like no other contemporary clothing.
Indian Fashion – ancient fashion in India
Ancient Indian fashion garments generally used no stitching although Indians knew about sewing. Most clothes were ready to wear as soon as they left the loom. The traditional Indian Dhoti, the Scarf or Uttariya, and the popular Turban are still visible India and continue to be part of Indian fashion. Likewise, for women, the Dhoti or the Sari as the lower garments, combined with a Stanapatta forms the basic ensemble, and once again consists of garments that do not have to be stitched, the stanapatta being simply fastened in a knot at the back. And the Dhoti or the Sari worn covering both legs at the same time or, in the alternative, with one end of it passed between the legs and tucked at the back in the fashion that is still prevalent in large area of India. Indian men and women for these garments in the usually hot Indian climate. – dhoti when he speaks of ‘turbans used for trousers’, and a kaupina when he is speaking of ‘a rag of two fingers’ breadth bound over the loins.
Indian sari remains the traditional clothing of Indian women. Worn in varied styles, it is a long piece of flat cotton, silk or other fabric woven in different textures with different patterns. The sari has a lasting charm since it is not cut or tailored for a particular size. This graceful feminine attire can also be worn in several ways and its manner of wearing as well as its color and texture are indicative of the status, age, occupation, region and religion of a woman. The tightly fitted, short blouse worn under a sari is called a choli. The choli evolved as a form of Indian clothing around the tenth century AD and the first cholis were only front covering; the back was always bare.
Bollywood sarees : When it comes to fashion, Bollywood is a huge source of inspiration for all fashion enthusiasts and trend followers. Be it a plain transparent saree or a designer wedding saree, Bollywood films showcase them. Right from the time when Mumtaz and Saira Banu flaunted tight fitting typically draped sarees to today where Katrina and Kareena seen dancing in beautiful sarees, Bollywood encompass an entire gamut of different styles of sarees.
Yesteryear’s actress Mumtaz made the Santhali style of draping a saree very popular in the 1960s and the 1970s, so much so that it was popularly called as the ‘Mumtaz style of a saree’. The saree is draped in such a way that it hugs your figure like second skin and pleats are avoided. Mumtaz made a very fashionable entry with a glittering orange sari and a short sleeveless blouse in her film Brahmchari (1968) for which she received a lot of compliments. Her song “Aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charche” thus became a craze amongst the audience! Mumtaz’s style of saree had frills at the bottom which is below the knee line. Well, the good news is that this style of draping the saree is very much in trend these days and girls are buying such sarees in large numbers. After all, old always remains gold!
Be it Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun flaunting her violet embroidered saree with back open blouse or Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai wearing plain cotton casual sarees or Aishwarya in Devdas exhibiting her beauty in a bengali saree, Bollywood has showcased a range of styles, fads and trends that most of us have been following religiously!
Talking of Bollywood sarees, one is also reminded of Sushmita’s red chiffon saree in Main Hoon Na! Her sarees became very popular during that time. Every actress in Bollywood chooses her saree from the fashion designer she likes and also makes sure she is dressed keeping the latest fashion trends in mind.
What is also seen a lot in Bollywood these days is an explosion of colors. Indian actresses are experimenting with new colors; they are mix-matching and wearing contrasting color sarees that really catch the eye! Bright multi-colored sarees are really something that is totally in vogue. Fine embroideries, zardosi on velvets, blouses with deep cuts, chiffons are all a part of the wardrobe of most Bollywood actresses today.
Another popular attire of women in Indian clothing is the Indian salwar-kameez. This popular Indian dress evolved as a comfortable and respectable garment for women in Kashmir and Punjab region, but is now immensely popular in all regions of India. Salwars are pyjama-like trousers drawn tightly in at the waist and the ankles. Over the salwars, women wear a long and loose tunic known as a kameez. One might occasionally come across women wearing a churidar instead of a salwar. A churidar is similar to the salwar but is tighter fitting at the hips, thighs and ankles. Over this, one might wear a collarless or mandarin-collar tunic called a kurta. Though the majority of Indian women wear traditional Indian dresses, the men in India can be found in more conventional western clothing like shirts and trousers.
However, men in Indian villages are still more comfortable in traditional attire like kurtas, lungis, dhotis and pyjamas. Indian dresses & styles are marked by many variations, both religious and regional and one is likely to witness a plethora of colors, textures and styles in garments worn by the Indians.
Use of Gold in Indian Fashion: For this reason, some gold ornament is usually worn against the skin at all times. Indian Gold ornaments are popular because the metal is believed to have the power purify anything it touches.
Ornaments of gold and other metals, often combined with precious and semi-precious gems and beads, are popular with both men and women in India.
Traditionally, Indian ornaments had economic significance for women too. The ornaments given to her at her wedding constituted a daughter’s inheritance from her father ( Dowry).
Customarily land and other property was divided among the sons, though this no longer holds true. In addition, a bride’s ornaments were financial security throughout her life.
Ornaments of Indian Fashion :
Nose pin: More common than a nose ring, both are symbols of purity & marriage, though today many unmarried Indian girls wear this adornment.
Necklace: These are very popular fashion accessories across India amongst girls and women of all ages. Necklaces are made of a variety of materials, ranging from glass beads to gold and diamonds. One special necklace is the mangalasutra, worn only by married Indian women. It is the Indian equivalent of the western wedding ring. Traditionally a woman wore it during her wedding ceremony and took it off only if her husband died.
Bangles: Worn on the wrist, bangles are believed to be protective bands and women always wore them as symbolic guards over their husbands. As with other ornaments, bangles today are worn by women of all ages all over India and are made of silver, gold, wood, glass, and plastic, among other materials.
Ear rings: Rings, studs and other ornaments worn in the ears are popular all over the country. In fact, a girl’s ears are usually pierced before her first birthday.
Other important ornaments are finger rings, toe rings and anklets. Rings for the fingers are again, of various materials and designs and worn by unmarried and married women. Since the ring has become a common adornment, it is no longer considered a symbol in Indian marriages.
However, toe rings and anklets are still worn mostly by married women. Ornaments for the feet are usually made of silver because gold, being a ‘pure’ metal, was not supposed to be worn on the feet. This privilege was given only to women of royal Indian families.
In addition to these ornaments is the ‘mangatika’ or ‘tikli’. This ornament, worn at the top of the forehead in the parting of the hair, is usually a small pendant on the end of a chain that is clasped to the hair. Although traditionally this ornament was also worn as a symbol of marriage, today it is not so commonly worn even by married women.
Kajal or Eyeliner : From the time a child is six days old, its mother applies kajal to its eyes and also a small black dot on the forehead to mar the child’s beauty. This ‘imperfection’ is said to protect from evil.
Sindoor : dot on forehead of woman indicating married status of Indian Women, power, protection for her husband. It is applied by the husband as part of wedding ceremony.
Kurti : Kurtis are nothing but short kurtas that are longer than a t-shirt and shorter than a full length kurta. Kurtis have now been an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe. The best part of dressing in a kurti is the fact that they are extremely comfortable and light and can be worn for hours at a stretch. Especially in summer when it is so hot, kurtis are the best bet. Be it college going girls or middle aged women; kurtis are popular across all age categories. Kurtis are worn with jeans, make it the perfect blend of Indian and western fashion. Indian traditional block printed kurtis which are available at a reasonable rate are worn by most urban women and can be seen on the busy shopping streets of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and other places. Kurtis are available in various materials. Kurtis worn during the months of summer are usually made of thin silk or cotton fabrics while winter season kurtis are made of fabrics like Khadi silk, jute and other thick fibers. Chikan embroidered cotton kurits are very much in trend as the subtle effect of this embroidery on the kurti makes it rich and appealing in all senses. One can even paint a simple khadi kurti with designs, patterns and colours one wishes to be in.
Special cuts in kurtis are now being experimented with. For example, Rani Mukherji Kurtis in the film ‘Bunty aur Babli’ went on to become highly popular amongst the college crowd. Even the kurtis worn by many other actresses in various films are trendy and stylish. While you can experiment with the style, keep your body type in mind and choose a well fitting kurti. Many people also prefer wearing designer kurtis that are beautifully adored with golds and shimmers to wedding occasions. One can pair these kurtis up with embroidered denims or tight fitting churidaars.
Kurtis that are in trend this season are frock-styled kurtis that are well fitting from the top on the shoulders and then flow freely from the chest to the waist. These kurtis should be avoided by people who are broad, short and heavy on their torso as it makes them look fat. This type of kurtis should be worn by people who are slim and tall. There are many styles and cuts available but the key to wearing a good kurti is one that fits you well and enhances your body.
Learn about Indian Fashion, Indian fashion designers, Pictures of Indian Kurtas, Dhotis, Turban, Indian Sarees, Indian Salwar Kameez :