Salwar Kameez is one of the traditional clothes worn by many people in central and south Asia. These are stitched clothes unlike the sari, or dhoti. Both men and women wear salwar kameezes in these parts of the world. However, salwar kameezes worn by women have different designs, which distinguish them from those worn by men.
Each salwar kameez consists of a trouser and a top. The kameez is the top and the salwar is its loose trouser, which ends in slightly narrow opening near the ankle like the traditional harem pants. Tailors either stitch some elastic at the waist level of these salwars or provide a small fold in which a string can pass, for tying the trousers. This string holds up the trousers. The fastening arrangement in these trousers is in the front or the center unlike in harem pants, which mostly have such arrangement on the side. The other common feature between the salwars and traditional harem pants is their bagginess. However, the bagginess of salwars tapers gradually towards the ankles, unlike in traditional harem pants. In Patiala salwar, this bagginess is more prominent and at times, it is almost straight like in pajamas. Patiala salwars with short snugly fitting tops are popular amongst teenage girls. These are convenient clothing. The narrower version of salwar fits like leggings. This is the churidar.
Men’s salwar kameezes are often similar to clothing worn by Pathans. Their kameezes may have a couple of pockets at the breast level. Cloth flaps above these pockets are for closing these pockets. A button stitched on the pocket passes through the buttonhole on the cloth flap. In addition, there are deeper pockets on either side of men’s kameezes.
Fashion designers change the length of such kameezes to create new fashions. Men often wear kameezes which are long. Usually, men’s kameezes reach a few inches below the knees. Women’s kameezes are usually slightly above knee length. Knee length or even longer kameezes are also popular. There are tight kameezes as well as loose kameezes for women. Tight kameez accentuates the feminine structure of women. Loose garments are ideal summer wear. Such loose kameezes may have loose sleeves that reach the wrists. However, elbow length sleeves or sleeves that run a couple of inches below elbow are more common in such kameez varieties. Rural women wear kameezes similar to men’s kameezes. They often combine such kameezes with pleated long skirts instead of salwars. These kameezes have slit openings on sides.
Anarkali kameezes are a popular variety of kameezes. These are calf length gowns. However, there are more gathers in this top variety. Usually, these gathers start at waist level or immediately below the breast level. Such kameezes may have snugly fitting sleeves that run right up to the wrists. There may be print, embroidery, or sequin work at the shoulders, arms and wrists of such kameezes. In addition, designers add borders to the skirt part of these kameezes. Usually, there is some design at the neck. Most of the time, such designs may extend a bit more in the front and extend right up to waist. Cotton salwar kameezes outnumber other salwar kameezes. Other popular materials for stitching salwar kameezes include silk, georgette, net, satin, viscose, etc.