The most traditional Indian garment for men is the dhoti kurta, worn across the country in almost every region in different variations. This outfit has been worn by men in India for many centuries and was once lauded by the freedom fighters as an important symbol of the unique Indian heritage and cultural milieu.
The main reason that public figures like Mahatma Gandhi made the dhoti an integral part of the fashion sense is that this traditional clothing represents the best of Indian men’s fashion and looks smart while also being comfortable.
In fact the versatility and comfort of a dhoti is unmatched by any other Indian garment for men. It can be worn for casual occasions, when relaxing at home, for visiting friends, or for extremely formal occasions like state functions and religious ceremonies as well. Combined with a kurta, it looks smart and sophisticated, which is why many politicians too prefer to wear this Indian garment over other types of pants, both western and Indian.
The dhoti kurta for men consists of a long cloth wrapped around in a distinctive way around each leg, to create a loose, baggy, trouser like effect, and a long shirt with slits at the side called the kurta. The dhoti is wrapped in different ways in different parts of India: in some states, it looks more like skirt, while in others, it is wrapped tightly to resemble trousers.
Kurtas too can vary in terms of length (for the sleeves and the shirt) and in terms of the necklines, which can either be a high/low collar or a placket type opening. Dhoti kurta for men’s wear are very comfortable, as both the upper and lower garments are loose and airy. Though the wrapping process for the dhoti is a bit complicated, the final look which combines elegance with tradition and comfort with classiness is well worth it.
There are many varieties of the men’s dhoti kurta for various occasions. There are simple and plain cotton dhoti kurta combinations for daily wear as well as more colorful and fancy options for special occasions. The preferred colors for the men’s dhoti kurta include white, beige, off-white, red and maroon, though nowadays all kinds of colors are being experimented with.
In particular, a designer dhoti kurta will typically have a more innovative and exclusive look, utilizing off-beat shades like salmon pink, sky blue, grey or brown. These are meticulously stitched and tailored to fit beautifully, and usually come with interesting ethnic designs on the kurta. Traditional embroidery and embellishment techniques like zari, Resham, cut dana or aari may be used to decorate the kurta and make it more formal and ornate. A dhoti kurta for wedding wear is most likely to have more embroidery on the kurta and display rich colors like red, gold and green.
The dhoti kurta for men is typically made of either cotton or silk. Cotton dhotis are best suited for casual wear as they offer the most amount of comfort, while the fine-looking silk dhotis are the preferred wedding and festival wear garments for men.
The kurtas can be made of many other materials besides cotton and silk, including beautiful woven brocades with intricate designs, elegant georgette or crepe, or art silk, faux georgette or faux crepe. Velvet and satin kurtas look particularly luxuriously and are best suited for special occasions requiring fancy dressing.
Wearing the Dhoti Kurta
Dhoti kurta are one of those garments that can never really go out of the style. Moreover, like saris for women, they have the distinction of being traditional and trendy at the same time. With a dhoti kurta combination, men can pay homage to their ethnic roots or interests while still looking dapper and sophisticated.
This is why it is very common to see many prominent public figures, especially those in politics or business, wearing the dhoti kurta for special occasions. Even Bollywood celebrities have been seen wearing a designer dhoti kurta for red carpet events, when they want to make bold yet classic fashion statement.
Dhoti kurtas are complete outfits and styling them is extremely simple. The type of dhoti and kurta worn will depend on the occasion. When it comes to the dhoti kurta for men, wedding occasions are the best place to wear the woven brocade varieties made of fine silks and good quality gold threads.
However, for casual or semi-formal events, cotton varieties might be preferred. For religious ceremonies and festivals, they can be paired up with men’s dupattas to get the complete traditional look; for weddings they are typically worn with a red turban.
It is best to go for Indian footwear like embroidered mojaris and colorful jutis with these outfits. Simply match the color and designs to the kurta to get a stylish and ethnic look instantly.