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Amitabh Bachchan in a Lungi | Old-School Indian Fashion
Old-School Indian Fashion
12 th Jun 2016

India is a multi-cultural and multi-dimensional country. Its diversity is seen in everything be it food or clothes.

India has an ample number of traditional Indian outfits which are dated back to its glorious history. Even today, designers don’t mind taking a stroll back to the bygone eras which represented royalty in ethnic wear and inculcate the same in modern fashion. With a rich culture of hand-woven textiles, embroidered fabrics and exclusive drapes, Indian fashion is something to boast about. 

Let’s take a road back to the old-school Indian fashion and find out how traditional Indian fashion has evolved over the years.

Women’s Costumes


When talking about traditional Indian outfits, the first thing that comes to mind is a sari. Sari or saree is traditional Indian attire that every woman has worn and intends to wear in both routine life or at special occasions. The history of the sari as the traditional Indian wear dates back to the era of Indus Valley Civilization in 2800-1800 BC which flourished in the north-western parts of India. Since then the sari has evolved and flourished with changing times. Both commoners and royals used to sport their version of a sari which varied depending upon their class and status. While locals used to wear simple handloom cotton sari, royals go for elaborated versions of embroidered silk saree.

This nine yard wonder has seen the progress from being a slave country to an independent nation. The impact of which is also seen in the changing styles and patterns of the saree which is now a sought after outfits, that is know all round the world. This authentic and elegant drape (sari) comes in different styles and fabrics depending on the region it is from. Some popular style of sarees include Banarsi, Chanderi, Kanjeevaram, Kantha, Chikankari,Silk, Cotton, Chiffon, Georgette etc.

The saree or sari | Old-School Indian Fashion


Another, very prominent and commonly worn traditional Indian attire is Salwar-Kameez. Having its roots in Islamic and Persian culture, women across the nation often prefer to wear it over other traditional attires because it is comfortable and low maintenance. It’s a set of separates that includes a loose bottom along with a straight long shirt and dupatta. Just like a sari, the salwar-kameez has also undergone various changes over a long period of time. The notable changes include the length of hem or fitting. For example, the bottoms of a salwar kameez may vary from being very loose called palazzo or tight-fitted known as churidar. Talking about the kameez, it could be long and straight or short and fitted. Another version is A-line or anarkali style which is a flared garment. All in all, salwar-kameez can safely be called old-school Indian attire which is still going strong in this day and age.

Old-School Indian Fashion


Lehenga-choli is another quintessential traditional Indian wear that has its roots in history of Indian clothing. This attire comprises of long flared floor-length skirt along with a short crop top. Lehenga-choli is not an outfit for daily-wear but rather one to be worn on special occasions like weddings or at a reception. Women in Gujrat and Rajasthan love to wear highly embellished versions of this attire. Their lehengas are adorned with beautiful ethnic mirror work, beads and intricate embroidery. But nowadays lehengas have recieveda  modernised make-over to suit the needs of today’s women. The kind of embroidery, hem of choli (long and short) and colour palette, are all being experimented with to suit modern sensibilities.

Old-School Indian Fashion | Lehenga-choli


Men’s Costumes


Just like women, Indian men also have a long list of traditional Indian wear.  Generally, these clothes are not worn on daily basis but on special occasions like festivals or weddings. The first among them is a typical dhoti-kurta. Dhoti is a 6-yard long rectangular unstitched piece of cloth which is draped around the waist and legs. Generally it is in cotton fabric but sometimes dhoti is made in silk too for special occasions. The way it is draped depends upon the region of its origin, for example, it is worn in different styles in Bengal or southern states of India. It is accompanied by a long shirt known as a kurta.

Dhoti-kurta | Old-School Indian Fashion


Another popular old-school men’s attire is lungi. This is also a piece of cloth but it is sewn in a circle and is worn around the waist like a sarong. Lungis are sometimes plain made in various styles like checks and stripes. It is one of the most comfortable garments for men, especially in hot regions.

Lungi | Old-School Indian Fashion


One of the most sought after Indian clothes for men even today is the kurta-pajamas. As discussed earlier, a kurta is a long loose shirt that reaches the knee of the wearer and is paired with a loose fitted bottom which is known as a pajama. This combination is not only comfy but stylish at the same time. Kurta-pajama comes in fabrics like cotton and silk depending upon the relevance of the occasion. Also, to give a festive touch to this garment, a little embroidery is done on the kurta to make it look fancy and occasion-appropriate, or it can be paired with a Nehru jacket for a more formal look.

 Kurta-Pajamas | Old-School Indian Fashion


Sherwani is certainly traditional attire with its own grace and charisma. Originally it was worn by the Muslim community for special occasions, but sherwarnis are now loved by one and all and a very popular options for weddings and festivals. A sherwani is a long button-down coat also known as an achkan. Usually it is knee-length and is matched with a pajama or a tight-fitted trouser. It looks great as it enhances the body-structure and makes men look taller and sophisticated. This explains why most men love to wear this as their wedding dress.

Sherwani | Old-School Indian Fashion

So, now you have a deep insight into old-school Indian fashion and its long journey from the pages of history till today!

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