The sherwani is a long, coat-like dress worn by men across south-east Asia. The sherwani is considered a more evolved form of ethnic attire and is the preferred outfit for special occasions, weddings and ceremonies. It holds a special place in Pakistani culture as the Pakistani sherwani is the national dress of the country.
The sherwani originated with the Mughal royalty, who preferred this garment for courtly occasions. Over the years, the design was somewhat altered to resemble the British frock coat and the western suit. The final design of the Pakistani sherwani for men we see today hence displays diverse cultural influences. At the same time, Pakistani sherwani designs are distinct and have become famous across for the world for the classy, regal look they create.
A Pakistani men’s sherwani looks like a cross between a kurta and a coat. It typically has a low collar and buttons all the way till the hemline, which usually falls below the knees. The sleeves are also long, with a straight, stiff cut. The sherwani, on the whole, is quite stiff, with wide shoulders and a well-fitting silhouette. Since Pakistani sherwani styles tend to be very formal, thicker fabrics are used, often with some kind of padding and a close-fit to make the wearer look as majestic as possible. It is sometimes worn as a coat over an underlying kurta.
A men’s Pakistani sherwani will always be formal and suited for more fancy occasions, but that doesn’t mean the varieties to choose from are limited in any way. The colors can range from classy white and beige shades to attractive and rich hues of red. For state occasions and national holidays, a black sherwani is a preferred choice while for parties more vibrant colors can be worn. The fanciest varieties like the Pakistani designer sherwani options come with subtle but beautiful embellishments of crystals, beads and thread work near the neck and the borders or sparsely scattered throughout the fabric.
Of course, the most ornate and heavy option is the Pakistani groom sherwani. Since these are to be worn by the groom during the Nikaah they are extremely rich and utilize only the finest fabrics, designs, patterns and motifs. Also called the Pakistani dulha sherwani, they will come in traditional shades of beige, red, gold and white. They also usually sport a lot of intricate work not just in certain areas like the border or the placket, but on the entire outfit. A truly ornate and traditional Pakistani
They also usually sport a lot of intricate work not just in certain areas like the border or the placket, but on the entire outfit. A truly ornate and traditional Pakistani wedding sherwani will utilize thick woven brocade with glimmering gold or silver designs and add a large zardosi border and some type of beads or crystal work. The designs are usually quite intricate and beautiful, reflecting the influence of Persian art forms. Other fabrics that may be utilized include silk, velvet and satin.
Nowadays, designers are also adding some non-traditional elements in the wedding outfit by incorporating bright colors like blue or yellow in the piping, borders or designs of the sherwani and including more western patterns and shapes.
Until a few decades ago, sherwanis were only worn for traditional occasions. Though they had acquired some fame because of the numerous politicians and officials who wore them, often as a sign of their commitment to their respective cultures, they were not that widely known across the world. All this changed in the last two decades.
Designers, striving to re-discover ethnic attires and techniques, seized upon the sherwani as a classy and sophisticated garment for men. In particular, the royal look of the Pakistani men wedding sherwani was much appreciated, and as a result, today, they have become the staple men’s wear choice for any formal ethnic event. Even some international designers have featured the sherwani in their collections.
When it comes to the Pakistani sherwani for men, they tend to be very traditional. However, those for other occasions are often more experimental, incorporating bolder colors, altering the silhouette or playing around with the necklines and the designs. For instance, the vintage style of wearing the sherwani as a coat over a kurta has come back into fashion, and designers have come up with lots of different types of cuts for this type of look.
Styling a sherwani is relatively simple. The traditional look pairs up a Pakistani sherwani with a pair of well-fitting long leggings called churidars which bunch up at the calves. However, they are nowadays also worn with funky dhoti pants or loose salwars. For weddings, they are accessorized with ornate and imposing turbans and long scarves called dupattas or chunis. These are different from the women’s dupattas, as they are thinner and stiffer in their fall, similar to a stole, rather than flowing and voluminous. A pair of traditional embroidered mojaris will complete the look.