Many people are often confused about what traditional clothes are and how they are different from western clothing. Let us take a look at why traditional clothes are worn in India and learn what are traditional dress.

In the sub-continent, the temperature is very high in summers and very low in winters. Due to this very extreme weather conditions people have evolved to wear clothes which protect them from severe weather conditions.

Traditional clothes help keep the body warm in winters and cool in summers. Traditional clothes absorb sweat produced on skin efficiently which keeps the body cool during summers and prevents the body from getting dehydrated due to sweating. Also, traditional clothes reflect sunlight and prevent it from entering the body through its surface.

what are traditional wear

The light reflected by these clothes is white which the human eyes cannot see but our skin can feel its warmth. This reflected sunlight prevents our skin from getting burnt by the sun's rays. Traditional clothes also provide protection against insects such as mosquitoes by trapping them inside because of its thick texture.

CROWN FABRIC- Inspire Fine Clothing

Traditional clothes also have their own religious significance which is why they have been passed on generations after generations since ancient times. Caste system also played a role in evolution of clothing styles as castes were given different colors or designs to wear depending upon their profession or status in society.

Traditional clothes provide a sense of belongingness and pride.

Traditional Indian clothes can pose a bit of a dilemma for men. While many of them are familiar to Western eyes, they might not seem very intuitive, especially if you're unaccustomed to wearing pants that are so different from jeans and trousers. The key is knowing your options, and how to wear them appropriately.


These three garments are the Achkan/Sherwani, the Bandhgala, and the Lungi. They're all similar in that they're typically long-sleeved (except for the Lungi), but each is unique in its own way.


The Achkan/Sherwani consists of a long coat without lapels or collars. It's traditionally worn with a pair of loose pajama-like pants called a Kurta, though these days it's often worn with Western-style trousers for special occasions.

An Achkan can be made of anything from pure silk to cotton or synthetic blends, but it's always cut straight up and down without any pleats or gathers. This makes it much like a Nehru jacket in silhouette, though unlike the Nehru jacket, which is most commonly black in India today, an Achkan is usually white—though other colors aren't unheard of.

Traditional clothing for women include the Saree and Choli. There are regional variations of traditional Indian clothing for both men and women. For example, in Goa, traditionally women wear a skirt called a "Feni" with a blouse called a "Salwar".

what are traditional wear

Because India is a large country and has many states it is hard to categorize traditional clothing. However, there are some broad divisions in styles of clothing worn. For example, the people in Maharashtra have their own style of dressing while the people in Assam have their own style of dressing which is different from the Marathi style of dressing. But at the same time we can say that all these are part of Indian traditional attire.

In different regions and states the designs, colors and materials used vary according to the weather conditions, social customs and economic factors. The major differences between male and female clothing are that females wear more layers than men do while they cover their body with clothes as compared to men who prefer light clothes exposing only part of their body.


Importance of wearing traditional dress is unique to every individual. Today, let’s find out the types of traditional dresses which are most loved for traditional clothing. 


The sari is a traditional women’s garment from the Indian subcontinent. There are various styles of sari manufacture and draping, the most common being the Nivi style, which originated in the Deccan region. The sari is worn with a fitted bodice commonly called a choli (ravike & kuppasa in southern India, and cholo in Nepal) and a petticoat called ghagra, parkar, or ul-pavadai. In the modern Indian subcontinent, the sari is considered a cultural icon.

traditional wear

The sari is the national dress of India, the pride and joy of Indian women. It is not a mere dress but an expression of art, culture and tradition. The origin of this beautiful attire dates back to several centuries. Saris have evolved over the years and still have a long way to go.

There are innumerable designs and patterns in which they can be made. Over time, each state has developed its own style of wearing a sari, which adds to its grace. The variation in form is mainly due to the difference in draping styles, the length and width of cloth, and the variety of materials used for making saris and decorative borders.

The saree has become popular amongst women all over the world as well because it is comfortable to wear, looks very elegant and is suited for all occasions.

In a friendly tone: Sari is a national dress of India. It is worn by the female population of India. Sari can be worn in different styles. There are various types of saris available in different parts of the country. The most famous one is “Bhagalpuri saree”, which was known as “Mulberry Silk” earlier.

Bhagalpur is a city in East India, situated in Bihar State. Sarees have been manufactured in this city for more than 400 years and it has been exported to the world through Surat and Calcutta ports for centuries.

Here are a few facts about the saree:

  1. The word saree is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘sati’ which means strip of cloth. 
  1. The traditional length of a sari was around 6 yards, but since the modern era it is available in 5-9 yards.
  1. In the Indian subcontinent, saris are worn with a fitted bodice commonly called a choli (ravike & kuppasa in southern India, and cholo in Nepal) and a petticoat called ghagra, parkar, or ul-pavadai.
  1. In some regions of India, women wear half sarees which consist of a skirt-like lower garment and a dupatta (stole).
  1. The sari is also worn by many women of other countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Salwar kameez-

The word salwar is a variation of the Persian word salwar, which was borrowed into Hindi, Urdu and other South Asian languages. The word kameez is derived from the Persian word kameez.

traditional wear

The traditional salwar kameez consists of a tunic top and loose-fitting pants called salwars. The pants are cut like a typical Western pair of pants with two legs and a crease along the front of each leg. There is an elastic band around the waist which holds the salwar in place.

The kameez can be sewn to fit or bloused over the elastic band, or a drawstring can be used instead of elastic. The shalwar is usually cut straight, with side seams only from knee to hem (the opening below the knee is known as the chalk), but sometimes also has a yoke seam at the back and front waistline resulting in two darts on each side.

In North India, women often wear cotton salwars and embroidered kameez's for everyday wear, reserving silk ones for special occasions. In Pakistan, women typically wear embroidered cotton kameez's with silk salwars on special occasions such as Eid ul-Fitr, weddings or parties.

The salwar is loose and wide at the top, and tight from the knee to the ankle. It is usually cut on the bias, making it naturally stretchy (unlike trousers). The salwar is tied at the waist with a drawstring. The excess cloth of the upper part of the salwar is folded and tucked into the waistband, leaving only a few inches gathered at the bottom hem.

These are then pleated; they may be voluminous or flat. Like other garments worn in South Asia, salwars are often sewn with traditional folds, curves and tucks. Different styles of salwars include:

- Salwars fall almost to the ankles; 

- Medium length salwars end just below the knees; 

- Short length salwars end just above the calves;

- Patiala salwars have an elastic-waist, balloon-like design so that they are very wide at the top, but narrow towards the ankle; 

- Churidar pajama, also known as churidar pajama, is a type of shalwar that is long and tight down to the ankles.


The sherwani is a traditional garment worn by men in the Indian subcontinent, especially in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The sherwani is a long coat-like garment similar to a frock coat or a Polish żupan. It is traditionally associated with the nobility of the Indian subcontinent.

traditional wear

It can be distinguished from the achkan by the fact that it is shorter in length, is often made from heavier suiting fabrics, and has no lining. Sherwanis are typically worn with churidars (as opposed to loose trousers) and may be accompanied by either a sash (known as an odhni) or a dupatta that covers the chest.

A jama (coat) may also be worn over the sherwani. It is customary for men to wear turbans or some type of head covering with the sherwani, usually a Peshawari cap, embroidered skull cap or turban depending on regional and religious customs (e.g. Sikh turban).

In a friendly tone: Sherwani is known for its tight fitting at the waist and loose fit at the hips. The length of the Sherwani varies from mid-thigh to ankle-length. The styling and length of sherwanis can be changed to suit one's taste and preference. The most common styles are angarkha, kalidaar, jama and Achkan.

The original sherwani was worn in the Mughal court and consisted of a double-breasted coat with an extended skirt. In modern times, it has become popular as a traditional garment for grooms during weddings and festive occasions such as Eid al-Fitr and Diwali. It is worn with a pajama or dhoti or salwar, or even churidars.

The sherwani is also worn with a stole called a rumāl folded neatly on top of the left shoulder as a mark of respect to elders. In some parts of India, including Hyderabad and Rajasthan, it is called kurta-pajama.

Sherwani was traditionally associated with Muslim aristocrats during British rule. It was later adopted by other communities across India. In Northern India, especially in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana, it is widely seen at festive occasions such as weddings and Eid celebrations.

The most traditional form of sherwani is made from heavy fabric such as brocade, jacquard and silk velvet. The outer fabric may be heavily embroidered upon with gold threads called zari work which are woven into the material using a hook called tambour.

Kurta pajama-

Kurta pajama is a traditional Indian dress that is a very popular and favorite dress among men of India. Another form of kurta pajama is the more popular Margani suit in places like Srinagar. This combination is also a favorite for festivals, celebrations, or evenings with family.

traditional wear

The kurta has been around for centuries. The kurta generally comes in white color, which makes it even more elegant when worn on special occasions. The sleeve length varies from short to long and sometimes even sleeveless. The pajama is usually white and sometimes made with silk or other fabrics and the length can vary from full length to knee length.

Kurta pajamas are worn all over India during religious and social events such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. They are also used at formal functions like meetings in offices or business meetings. Men in Mumbai often wear them as business attire while women may wear them to work or while going shopping as they are considered fashionable but not flashy.

In general, men's casual wear includes khaki trousers with a white shirt or t-shirt underneath; however, some people prefer wearing their kurtas without any trousers underneath whereas others prefer jeans to complement their outfit.

Ghagra choli-

The ghagra choli is a combination of a lehenga, tight choli and a dupatta. The choli may be long enough to tuck into the lehenga and may be cropped, or it may be short, with the stomach exposed. Exposed midriffs are particularly common in contemporary designs.

what are traditional wear

The choli is cut to fit tightly to the body and has short sleeves and a low neck. The ghagra is a skirt which is long and flows down to the ankles. It is pleated so that it allows ease of movement while dancing.

It is usually embroidered around the waistline with gota, phulkari or diree work. A chunni or dupatta is often worn with the ensemble. This is a long shawl or veil of sheer fabric, usually organza, gauze or silk, carried around shoulders or head and draped over head as well.

Ghagra cholis worn by men are referred to as kedia. Ghagra cholis worn by women typically consist of a blouse known as the choli, a long skirt called the ghagra, and an odhani or dupatta. Traditional ghagras are long skirts which are pleated from the waist and reach all the way down to the ankles.

The skirts usually have slits on either side, starting from the hem and reaching up to the knees along with intricate embroidery or mirror work. These skirts are often paired with cholis that are short crop-tops with elaborate embroidery.

The dupatta is generally worn over the heads in the northern parts of India and is draped over one shoulder in other regions, particularly in south Indian states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


The lungi is a traditional attire worn in South Asia, particularly in India and Bangladesh. It is a loose skirt-like garment that is wrapped around the waist. It is a very common attire for men. It can be worn by both men and women, but generally worn by men, as it is more comfortable for men to wear it, especially during summer season. It comes in many colors and designs.

traditional wear

In the past, the lungi was worn by the people of all classes irrespective of their social status. But now it has become a symbol of the underclass, who cannot afford to buy expensive clothes or do not have much knowledge about fashion or style.

Lungi is considered as an informal dress for men, and wearing it in public places or formal gatherings like government offices and hospitals are considered as inappropriate. The lungi is generally worn by villagers and poor people because they cannot afford to buy expensive clothes or western outfits like trousers and coats.

The lungi can be seen everywhere in India, from village markets to city streets. There are different styles of lungis available according to region and culture. In some regions of India, the lungi has become a popular attire for women also, especially in rural areas where women wear them as daily wear.


Lehenga is a traditional attire worn by women in India. A lehenga is basically a long skirt, which is secured at the waist and leaves the lower back and midriff bare. The length of lehenga can vary from region to region. In South India, the length of the lehenga can be as long as 7 yards, but in North India it usually comes with a length of 3-4 yards.

what are traditional wear

Different patterns and styles of traditional embroidery work are used to decorate the lehenga all across the Indian subcontinent. Gota patti embroidery is often used for festivals and weddings. The borders of the lehengas are also done in different styles and designs.

A dupatta or odhani is worn with a lehenga or ghagra along with either a choli or kurti blouse. The dupatta is draped over both the shoulders, covering the chest area completely.

There are various ways to drape a dupatta while wearing it with a lehenga or ghagra choli - it may be draped over one shoulder and left hanging diagonally over the other shoulder or draped over both shoulders like a shawl and then allowed to hang loosely down your fronts over your chest.

Most women in India wear a lehenga every now and then. It is considered as one of the most elegant pieces of clothing available for women, which is why it is so popular and widely used across the country. However, it is important to understand some dos and don’ts of wearing a lehenga, so that you can choose the best style for yourself, and then wear it in the right way.


  • Do consider your body type before buying a lehenga,
  • Do accessorize your lehenga well, and
  • Do choose the right kind of blouse for your lehenga.


  • Don’t choose a very heavy embroidered lehenga for your wedding if you are going to wear it during the day,
  • Don’t buy a lehenga online without making sure that you know what you are getting into, and
  • Don’t buy a very heavily embellished or embroidered lehenga if you are on the heavier side.


You can date the dhoti back to ancient India, or as far back as 3000 BC, when it was a part of the three-piece attire worn by men—the dhoti, uttariya (a scarf worn across the shoulder), and antriya (a long garment worn like pants). This was the typical attire for royalty and upper-class men, but lower classes wore similar styles of clothing made from cloth that was less expensive.

traditional wear

The traditional term for this type of garment is "dhoti," but depending on the region, it is also called a panchey, vesti, dhotar, chaadra, mardani or pancha.

Dhotis are typically worn during special occasions such as weddings and religious ceremonies. They are also commonly worn at home by older generations in many Indian villages.

However, they are not widely used in daily life due to the impracticality of wearing a long piece of cloth while working outdoors. In recent years they have been gaining in popularity with younger generations and are now widely available in stores throughout India.

Dhotis can be made out of any material depending on preference or cost. Common materials include cotton, silk and polyester. They come in plain or solid colors.

Despite the various names for this piece of cloth, the method of tying the dhoti is fairly uniform across the country. The cloth is usually made of cotton or silk and is around 15 feet long and two feet wide.

The length allows it to be wrapped around the waist twice before being taken up between the legs and knotted at the navel region. It can also be worn knotted at the back, while wearing traditional footwear or sandals.

Mizo Puanchei-

The Mizo Puanchei is a shawl, which is considered as the most colorful among the Mizo handloom products. The beautiful and colorful Mizo Puanchei is a unique product of the skilled weavers of Mizoram. It is woven by hand and is considered to be the prized possession of every Mizo woman.

traditional wear

Mizo Puanchei can be made in two different ways. The first one, called "Khuang Cawi" which is woven by knotting thread over a piece of bamboo which acts as a loom. The other one called "Tawi" is made by weaving thread over iron nails driven into a board shaped like a loom.

The designs and patterns of the shawl are inspired by the natural environment, such as plants and animals. The main colors used in the design are black, blue, green, red and yellow. The shawl can be worn by both men and women.

The traditional way of wearing it is to fold it into two halves and tie both ends at the back with a knot. It is then draped around the body like a scarf or stole. Puanchei is traditionally worn during ceremonies such as weddings. Mizo puanchei is also used as a canvas for Mizo artists to paint beautiful designs on it.

Mizo Puanchei can be made in two different ways. The first one, called "Khuang Cawi" which is woven by knotting thread over a piece of bamboo which acts as a loom. The other one called "Tawi" is made by weaving thread over iron nails driven into a board shaped like a loom.


In a friendly tone: The phiran is worn by both males and females in Kashmir. The phiran consists of two gowns, one over the other. The traditional phiran extends to the feet, which was popular up to the late 19th century C.E.

traditional wear

However, a relatively modern variation of the phiran extends to below the knees, which is worn with a suthan inside (loose form of salwar) similar to the styles worn in Afghanistan. It is optional to wear the suthan with a long phiran as traditionally lower garments are not worn with phirans. The traditional phiran do not have side slits.

The front opening can be either vertical (kangri) or horizontal (loch). The dress is usually made from wool but nowadays synthetic fabrics are also used and they are available in a number of colors and designs.

Kashmiris have been wearing the phiran for centuries, and the garment has come to symbolize the Kashmiri culture. The phiran is worn over a loose kurta and is usually of one color in wool or cotton, with buttoned up collars, pockets, and long sleeves.

The phiran extends to the feet, which was popular up to the late 19th century C.E. However, a relatively modern variation of the phiran extends to below the knees, which is worn with a suthan inside (loose form of salwar) similar to the styles worn in Afghanistan.

It is optional to wear the suthan with a long phiran as traditionally lower garments are not worn with phirans. The traditional phiran do not have side slits.


Modern India is a country of many cultures and languages. People wear traditional clothes to show their respect towards the beliefs of their ancestors. They feel completely at ease in wearing them. There is no discrimination among people who wear traditional clothes and those who don't. Whatever way you wish to wear it, make sure you maintain the tradition. There is a specific way for every Indian traditional dress and by wearing them right, you can respect your culture as well as wear something out of the ordinary. 

Let us know in the comment section below what you learned today from this blog.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published