I love saris, lengha, salwaar kameez, etc. I wear them a good deal of the time, and yes, I do know how to drape it and how to get those lovely pleats in my sari, too! 😉


Types of Indian Clothing - Women

So being tired of people constantly label every type of Indian dress as a “sari”, I figured I would make an informative post so that you all can educate yourselves. There are numerous variants of these, so I’m just presenting the basics.

(1) Sari 

Basically a strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from four to nine meters in length, that is draped over the body in various styles. The sari is usually worn over a petticoat, and they’re known for their pleated fronts on the skirt portion. If your sari doesn’t have lovely pleats, you’re wearing it wrong. The blouses for sari’s can either cover or show the midriff. Dancing in a saree takes a lot of skill. This is a traditional dress so don’t be fooled into thinking they’re fancy wear—there are plenty of casual saris. 

(2) Ghagra/Lehenga Choli

Traditionally worn in Rajasthan and Gujarat, as well as Punjab in folk dances and for weddings.  It is a combination of lehenga, a tight choli and an odhani. A lehenga is a form of long skirt which is pleated. It is usually embroidered or has a thick border at the bottom. A choli is a blouse shell garment, which is cut to fit to the body and has short sleeves and a low neck. Blouses and either cover or show the midriff area. This is a very wonderful dress to wear for dancing. It’s Southern counterpart is the Langa Voni.

(3) Salwaar Kameez

Traditionally worn in Punjab, Haryana, and Himachel Pradesh, though now has become the most popular dress to wear. It’s referred to as a “suit” by many, and is similar to the suthar in Sindh and Kashmir. It consists of loose trousers (the salwar) narrow at the ankles, topped by a tunic top (the kameez). It is always worn with a dupatta which can be used to cover the head, otherwise draped over the shoulders. Most young women wear this in lieu of Western clothing on a casual basis. 

(4) Churidaar Kurta

A variation of the salwaar kameez. A churidaar fits below the knees with horizontal gathers near the ankles. It’s usually work with a long kurta or a kameez. This is considered more “fashionable” than the salwaar kameez, and can be casual or dressed up. They look amazing, but sometimes the tightness around the legs can be constraining—like skinny jeans.

 (5) Pattu Pavadai/Reshme Langa

A traditional dress in south India and Rajasthan. It’s usually worn by small girls and teenagers.The pavada is a cone-shaped garment, usually of silk, that hangs down from the waist to the toes. 

(6) Langa Voni

A type of South Indian dress mainly worn in Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, and Kamataka. It has two components—the langa is the cone shaped long flowing skirt that covers the body from the waist, reaching the feet. In some cases, it might be as long as knees or just lower than the knees too. The second part is the blouse, or a jacket, that covers the upper part of the woman’s body. It’s Northern counterpart is the Ghanga Choli. 

(7)Mundum Neriyathum

The traditional wear of women in Kerala. It’s actually the oldest remnant of an ancient form of the sari, which only covered the lower half of the body. The most basic traditional piece is the mundu or lower garment while the neriyathu forms the upper garment of the mundu.It is the cultural costume of women in the Malayali community (often referred to as the kerala saree). 

(8) Mekhela Sador

Traditional dress of Assamese women.There are three main pieces of cloth that are draped around the body. It has three components—the mekhela which is the bottom portion and is in the form of a sarong folded into pleats to fit around the waist. The top portion is called a sador, which is a long length of cloth that has one portion tucked into the mekhela and the rest draped over the body. The third piece is the riha, which is worn under the sador

Again, there are various styles and types to each of their dresses which vary region from region. Some styles are casual, while others are for more formal occasions or used as bridal gowns. Hope this was of some help!

[Explanations are a mix of things from Wikipedia (to make my life easier) and my own comments]

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January 14, 2014 · 3:58 pm

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