Printed Tunics & Kurtis: Let Paisleys Do The Talking!

Printed Tunics & Kurtis: Let Paisleys Do The Talking!

A tunic is a fashionable upper body garment that resembles a loose shirt or tee shirt and falls anywhere between the hips and the knees. It has been worn since the Greek and Roman times, traditionally by men, but today is considered an extremely trendy garment for women. The design and silhouette of this garment has obviously evolved over the years and it is today available in many beautiful cuts and designs which reflect the aesthetic influence of cultures from around the world.

India’s beloved pattern

One of the most popular designs for the tunic is paisley. This is a unique, ethnic motif which resembles a twisted droplet. It has also been compared to one half of the Chinese yin and yang symbol. In its original form, it was conceived as a stylized depiction of a mango, a common and popular fruit in the Indian subcontinent.

The paisley design originated in Persia many centuries ago and has been used to decorate ethnic clothing for many years. It is considered a very auspicious and traditional type of design in India and is typically reserved for wedding and ceremonial clothing. However the paisley is in no way a solely ethnic design; in fact, it was the British who gave this unique motif its name when they discovered it many centuries ago.

Paisley Patterns

The end result of this confluence of cultures and designs is that paisley is today used to decorate all manner of western and Indian clothing; the most popular of which, is the tunic. Paisley tunic tops can be either western or Indian, depending on their cult and silhouette. An Indian version would be called a kurta or kurti and will generally have a looser and flowing fit, as compared to the western tunic. Thus, there are many gorgeous varieties available in the paisley tunic.

Paisley tunics and dresses

A paisley tunic dress can have the design incorporated in a variety of ways. The simplest would be the plain tunics with borders decorated with small paisleys in a row. These can come in a number of vibrant colors and the effect is very subtle and understated.

Another popular variety for casual wear is the paisley print tunic. The motif is repeated over and over again all over the fabric, either in a single repeated pattern or in a more haphazard manner (sometimes intermingled with other motifs) to create a more kaleidoscopic effect.

The motif on the paisley print tunic dress can be small, medium or large in size depending on the effect required. The most traditional and ethnic looking paisley tunics are the embroidered and embellished ones. The paisley design is sewn on using traditional and sometimes regional Indian techniques such as Resham, zari, zardosi and aari.


The embroidery can be done in a detailed, intricate manner with few gaps, to create a fancier look for the paisley tunic top, or it can be scattered in a sparse pattern all over the fabric. Typically, embroidered designs are restricted to the placket, neckline, border and sleeves areas.

The paisley tunic tops done up in colorful threads have an ethnic and vibrant look while those with gold and silver thread designs tend to have a more glamorous vibe. The paisley design can also be enhanced by utilizing sequins, beads, stones, crystals and other such heavy embellishments. Such rich and ornate looking paisley tunics are preferred for party wear.

Designers often make use of colors to achieve the desired aesthetic effect with paisley. For instance, when a more subtle effect is required, they may use differing shades of the same color for both the paisley designs and the fabric (light blue on navy blue or pale yellow on bright yellow).

Paisley Tunic Dress

For a more classy party wear look, women often prefer the subtle sheen of metallic designs. Metallic thread can be used to outline the paisley design on the paisley tunic to tone down the glamour of the outfit. One can also find gorgeous, opulent paisley tunic dresses made of fine materials like silk and brocade in which the paisley is prominently displayed in a contrasting color.

Styles Tips for Paisley Tunic

Paisley is one of those rare designs that is considered universally fashionable and is never really affected by the ebb and tide of the latest trends. With printed fabrics in general coming back into fashion in such a big way, it is no wonder that paisley tunics have become so popular with celebrities, fashionistas and the general public.

Women often choose to create funky yet beautiful every day wear looks with these pretty garments. The beauty of a paisley tunic top is best highlighted when paired with a pair of neutral colored leggings in addition to classy Indian jewelry such as a beaded necklace or gold/silver pendant (depending on the colors and tints on the tunic itself).