An Indian garment which has gone from being a boring daily wear staple to a hot and trendy ethnic wear item is the salwar kameez. This three piece garment consisting of a long shirt, loose pants and a scarf has been adapted and re-invented in a million ways and nowadays one can find a lot of interesting varieties to choose from.
One of the key factors that determine the appeal of the outfit is the salwar suit material; the choice of fabric influences the cut, fit, level of glamour and comfort of the salwar kameez.
The classic salwar suit dress material is cotton. This was the fabric used for many centuries to craft different types of casual wear salwar suits. It is highly absorbent and airy, while also fitting beautifully on to the figure.
Thus wearing cotton is a great relief in the summer; moreover, it is also durable and versatile, capable of being dyed in a million shades and embroidered and embellished with a lot of different designs.
The most commonly seen cotton salwar suits would be the printed varieties which come with a lot of bold motifs, both Indian and western; they also come with multi-colored ‘tie-and-dye’ patterns, patch border work and simple Resham embroidery designs.
The popularity of the silk salwar suit in India is evident when we see the tremendous variety in terms of design and style available in this type of outfit. Generally silk is loved for its soft, shiny and pretty surface and is considered a more ‘high-end’ fabric for special occasions.
However there are many different types of silks to choose from, including heavier varieties with a dull luster and lighter, finer varieties for more casual occasions. An example of the latter would be blended fabrics like art silk, which are a great way to get the best qualities of two different materials.
For instance, silk cotton salwar suits combine the comfort and breathability of cotton with the attractive shimmer and softness of silk. They can be worn for a wide variety occasions, depending on the designs and embroideries they sport. On the other hand, fabrics like Jacquard silk, Dupion silk, Tussar silk and Upadda silk which are known for their luxuriousness would only be used to make party salwar suits.
In recent years, certain fabrics like georgette, chiffon and crepe have become immensely popular. Each of them has a different look, feel and appeal, though they are typically used to make more formal salwar suits rather than casual wear salwar kameez.
Georgette salwar suits often come with a lot of beautiful Indian embroidery of pretty motifs like mangoes, flowers, stylized birds, leaves and so on, done using techniques like Zari, Resham threading, cut dana, aari, booti and much more. The traditional look of a georgette salwar suit is matched by a very comfortable, flowing silhouette because of the soft and comfortable fabric used.
Chiffon is a lot similar in terms of the texture and the ‘light-weight’ quality, and both these fabrics are made by twisting yarns of silk or cotton; however, chiffon is much lighter, almost translucent, and hence chiffon salwar suits are distinguished by how thin and body-hugging they are.
Crepe salwar suits have the advantage of being crinkle-free and they typically come with more machine embellishments than hand embroideries. Often, because of how well all these fabrics fit, they are the preferred choice for figure emphasizing anarkali style suits.
At the next level there are salwar suits material choices which are completely luxurious and expensive. Fabrics like velvet, satin, net, brocade and organza are used to make the most lavish salwar suits which usually come with intricate designs and detailed ornamentation of stones, sequins and beads work. Possibly the most luxurious choice would the multi-layered net salwar suits with velvet, satin and brocade layers and a corset like upper body fit.
Styling your salwar kameez
A trendy casual wear look is to pair up a tribal pattern printed cotton suit with wooden jewelry and colorful jutis. In terms of casual wear, a cotton silk salwar suit is also a good option; the best style is to pair up the colorful patterns on the kameez to stone studded pendants and stud earrings.
A great way to look glamorous at a party without giving up on the ethnic quotient is to pair up a net salwar suit with traditional yet glamorous pieces of Kundan, Thewa or Polki jewelry.
Satin salwar suits with beads work will pair well with pearls necklace sets. For weddings, a silk, satin, net or chiffon salwar in a rich color like purple or blue would be a good choice. Paired with a matching embroidered clutch and dangling earrings, this is a great ensemble for hectic weddings where comfort becomes a priority.