10 Styles of Clothes Worn in India
India is a heterogeneous country that believes in Unity in diversity. You will be awestruck by the variety and range India offers to its visitors. India has 28 states and eight union territories, and each of these places has an individual culture and civilisation to follow. The dresses are not primarily a follow-up of today’s fashion, but most have a history attached to them.
The unique cultures and traditions that take shelter under the canopy of the term ‘India’, are what make the country even more enjoyable. The nation harbours various ethnicities, cultures, religions, traditions, historical diversity, linguistic diversity, wayward races, and other assorted groups. The word diversity indicates the multiple races of people and their identities, which coexist in harmony. They all have their language, religion, dialect, and dress code to follow. Indians are very particular about their fashion sense and love representing their ethnicity through their clothes. No matter where you travel in India, not one place follows one specific culture or dress code.
This is not just for the dresses but the pieces of jewellery too. Various attires have rolled from the past to relive their era in today’s date. Each state has its own traditional history to bear. To help you know about the dress culture of India better, we have curated this list of standard dresses that are worn by the natives of this country.
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The traditional male attire of Maharashtra is a “dhoti” or a “dhotar” which is a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist in various patterns. The natives also wear something called ‘pheta’. Women wear a nine-yard saree which is regionally called “nauvari saadi” or known as ‘lugda’. However, at the peak of westernisation, traditional attires are taking a backseat and are becoming rarer, with trousers and shirts overtaking the wardrobes. The formal attire is now only worn by Maharashtrians during special occasions and festivities such as Ganesh Chaturthi. Marathi women are known to adorn their hair-buns with flower garlands called ‘gajra’ in Hindi. They deck up with beautiful jewellery of intricate Maharashtrian-style designs. Jewellery such as tanmani, rani haar, bormal, kolhapuri saaj, and thushi are worn on the neck. Another form of jewellery worn right above the elbow is called ‘bajuband’. They also wear “painjan” or “payal” on their ankles, Marathi-style nath or nose ring, kudi, “jadau” or “jodave” on their toe.
The people of Kerala believe in minimalistic dress-up and prefer to keep their attire simple. Their simplicity is reflected in their traditional dresses as well. Although the common clothing for women in Kerala is believed to be the saree, many also prefer to wear a traditional dress that is worn around the waist, which is a two-piece dress called the ‘neriyathu’. The neriyathu is worn diagonally by women. It starts from the left shoulder, where one end is tucked in inside the waist garment. The material used to prepare this dress is soft to touch and is made up of hand-woven delicate cotton. It is generally cream or off-white with a coloured or golden-laced border (“Kasavu”) which is known as the “Kara” in the language of the localites. The blouse of the saree matches with the border, or the sleeves too have a golden border to compliment the saree.
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Nowadays, this attire has been refashioned and has given way to “Set-sari” or the “Kerala sari” which is a proper full-length saree measuring about five and a half metres in length. It is now worn just like a regular saree. However, no matter what alteration it goes through, the colour and the border of the saree stay the same.
Men wear an attire which is called a ‘mundu’ along with a shirt. Although now, men and men have started to shift to the western clothing as per their comfort and fashion trends. However, during festivals, they still dress as per their customs and traditions.
The attire for children is, however, different in this place. Little girls or teenage girls wear something called “Pattu Pavada” which is usually a long skirt teamed with a blouse made from silk. This is, however, not an everyday dress and is generally worn on special occasions or during festivities functions.
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The standard outfit of Bihari natives is “dhoti-kurta” for men and saree or salwar kameez for women. Here also, we see the growing impacts of western culture on society and the individuals of Bihar switching their traditional clothes with western shirts and pants and women with jeans and tops or dresses. The traditional dress-making styles of Bihar are known for their intricate hand-woven textiles, such as the ‘tussar silk’ sarees, remaining the face of the unique and artistic Bihari dressing style. No one can deny the fact that sarees form a crucial dress in the Indian subcontinent (no matter which state you travel to), and needless to say, women look stunning in any style or material of saree they choose to wrap themselves with. The history and origin of sarees seems to date back to when civilisation began to take shape and came into existence.
The traditional dress for Bengali men is ‘dhuti’, and the top or ‘kurta’ that is teamed with ‘dhuti’ is called ‘panjabi’.
During the old days, especially during the colonial period, the dhotis used to be of white colour with a very embroidery to form the border. However, nowadays, to add to the beauty of the attire, the dhoti is now available in various attractive colours to suit the preference of all.
For women, it has to be a saree. It is the signature Bengali attire for the women of West Bengal. The saree entails the very essence of the rich culture of Bengal, representing their heritage and a glimpse of the bygone era. Not just this, the saree draping style of Bengali women is also quite unique and stands out in the various saree-draping patterns. Women in Bengal prefer their sarees woven in cotton or silk and, depending on the material, have been named after their weaving techniques. Since the climate of Bengal is primarily humid, women prefer to wear cotton saree for regular use.
The traditional weavers or Tanti silk sarees of West Bengal are known worldwide because of their exceptional quality of fabric spun and the delicate thread work on the ‘aanchal’ of the saree. In various towns and districts of West Bengal like Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, Bankura and Hooghly, different types of sarees are hand-woven with high efficiency and dedication to produce unparalleled results.
Mizo women’s favourite dress is “Puran” and is preferred by many. The various vibrant colours embracing the dress and the exceptional design contribute to making a fabulous outfit. Puanchei, or also known as ‘ponchu’ is a very gorgeous dress worn by Mizo girls during weddings and festivals such as ‘Paut’ or ‘Chapchar Kut’. The usual shades seen in the attire are black and white. However, sometimes you will also get to see a tinge of colour in between the light and white stripes. The black striped portion of the dress is made from synthetic fur. Another form of dress is “Kawrchei” which is a fabulous blouse-style top for Mizo girls. This blouse-style dress is hand-woven and comes in cotton material.
Mizo men drape themselves in a cloth piece which is about 7 feet long and five broad in its dimension. During winters or when there is a nip in the air, additional clothing is required and is worn one on top of the other, teamed with a white coat. This clothing is worn from the throat and envelopes the wearer to the thighs. There are white and red stripes throughout the course of the dress, and the stripes are stuffed with various colourful designs adorning the sleeves of the coats.
Jammu and Kashmir
The traditional dress of Kashmir valley is ‘Pheran’ or ‘phiran’ for both men and women. This conventional dress extends to the feet of the person wearing it and is extremely loose to wear for anyone. An updated version of the pheran which extends to the knees, is preferred nowadays. The dress consists of two gowns and is worn one over the other. Ideally, the phiran is worn over a pooch with the exact dimensions as the pheran but is made out of cotton or any lighter material. It helps to provide double-layered insulation in the chilly weather of Kashmir.
Additionally, the inner clothing prevents the pheran from burning due to ‘Kangri’ which is an earthenware pot filled with wickerwork with simmering charcoal. The kangri is worn by the locals to keep out the cold since the temperature drops abnormally in the hills of Kashmir. The use of Kangri, however, has substantially declined over the years because of the fire hazards associated with it.
The traditional Kashmiri pheran does not have slits on its sides and is made of wool to drive out the cold. During summer, the cotton version of phiran is used for a few months. Delicate embroidery or flower styles are a popular function of a Kashmiri ladies' pheran. The flower-styled embroideries are made of fragile metal threads. This kind of intricate embroidery is known as 'Tilli' in Kashmir and is very popular not just in Kashmir, but across the world.
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Men in Gujarat usually prefer to wear ‘Chorno’, which can be best described as cotton pants. It looks very similar to a dhoti. Chorno is known as one of the most preferred clothing found in the state and is therefore also readily available in the market. This style of clothing is pretty adaptive to the hot and humid climate of the state. Chorno is teamed with something called ‘Kediyu’ worn as top wear. The dress is a frock-like style of clothing and is worn primarily in the state of Gujarat. The Kediyu usually comes in a wide range of vibrant colours and is worn by Gujarati men on special occasions. Men also wear kurta and dhoti on regular days. Additionally, the men of Gujarat also wear something like a headgear called ‘Phento’, which is again very vibrant and colourful in appearance.
Women in Gujarat usually prefer to wear Ghagra or the ‘Chaniya Choli’, a dress that is quite popular not only in the state of Gujarat but in several parts of India too. This attire is decorated with vibrant designs and is worn especially during festivals such as “Navaratri” and other occasions. Chaniyo is a very popular dress worn by the women of Gujarat. The attire is quite similar to the pattern of a “Lehenga” in appearance. What makes Chaniyo unique is the vibrant colours, shiny embedded sequins and intricate colourful thread work throughout the dress—Women team up Chaniyo chunni. Chunni is like a scarf, quite similar to ‘dupattas’ and is worn usually to cover their heads or wear across the choli in style. Most women in Gujarat also prefer to wear sarees, in their distinct style, different from the other unique styles from other parts of the country. Other than these traditional dresses, the natives of Gujarat also wear amazing clothes for special ceremonies.
The traditional dress of women in Punjab is the salwar suit which is a replacement for the older traditional outfit called ‘Punjabi ghagra’. The Punjabi attire is made up of a kurta or ‘kameez’ and bottom wear called ‘salwar’. The Patiala-style salwar is a very popular dress in India. The traditional attire for Punjabi men earlier was the kurta and tehmat, which got replaced with the kurta and pyjama, especially the well-known ‘muktsari-style’ in India. The dress is called muktsari style because it hails from the place Muktsar in Punjab.
Weavers in Meghalaya, known as the Garos are catering to various types of clothes in the state. In rural areas, women cover themselves with a cloth around their waist, a short piece of cloth. However, when women go to crowded places, they generally prefer more prolonged attire. Garo women team this skirt-pattern bottom wear with a blouse and a lungi known as ‘Dakmanda’ in the local language. Dakmanda is a kind of hand-woven cotton fabric. Traditional clothing is also increasingly popular amongst Khasi women. Other than this, the Muga silk sarees of Assam are also pretty famous amongst women across India and the neighbouring countries. Another style of clothing made of woollen cloth known as ‘Jainkup’ is primarily worn by older women. With Jainkup, women also adorn themselves with a headdress called ‘Kyrshah’.
The traditional dress for Garo men is a loin-made outfit. Most Khasi men prefer to wear unstitched Dhoti, which can be seen in almost all of Meghalaya. They team up this dhoti with a turban, a jacket and a headgear. But nowadays, men prefer to wear traditional clothes only during festivals or important events to stay in touch with their indigenous culture. The traditional dress of the Jaintia tribe is quite similar to Khasi.
The traditional clothes of Nagaland signify prosperity and success. The clothes are dyed in yellow and have flowers designed on them. These dress designs are created by the people belonging to the community itself, thus, preserving the authenticity of their culture. The kilt is another kind of dress that is worn other than the shawl. A kilt is signified as the working dress in Nagaland and is black in colour. The kilt is intricately decorated with cowrie shells. Before the cowries are embedded on the Kilt, they are rubbed against a stone to make them stick perfectly on the dress. The person who uses the kilt only sews the dress. The cowries weaved on top of the kilt cloth are pretty famous amongst the people of Nagaland and symbolise the success of the wearer as well as the weaver.
Other dresses of Nagaland include Mechala, Azu Jangup Su, Moyer Tusk and Neikhro. The regular tribal dress of Nagaland of the Angami tribe is a skirt made up of a combination of blue cloth and white cloth. The white material is laced with thick black bands, which vary in breadth from maker to maker.
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