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Evolution Of Indian Traditional Clothing

Evolution Of Indian Traditional Clothing

Traditional Indian clothing dates back more than a thousand years. Different fabrics were chosen for different types of traditional dresses, mainly to suit the weather of the region. Art inspired traditional attire and gave birth to beautiful Sarees and ethnic Salwars such as Churidaars and fabulous jewelry that reflected the rich cultural heritage of the people.

To understand today’s fashion, one must reflect on the past and go back years to understand the subtle nuances of today’s ethnic fashion. Stretching back to 2500 BC, India was a rich cultivator of cotton and silk reeling during the Harappan civilization. Cave paintings from the Indus Valley Civilization have depicted the human form with clothes that were mainly wrapped around the body. This is where Sarees and Dhotis came into being. The tradition of Silk Sarees dates back to this era, where women from aristocratic families draped themselves with opulent Silk fabrics. Both sexes of this period adorned themselves with jewelry made from turquoise, lapis lazuli, gold and silver. 

Through years and ages of being ruled over by various dynasties, the fashion of the day changed accordingly. One of the most impactful was the Mughal dynasty. It gave birth to today’s most intricate and famous dress – the Anarkali. It was a female courtesan, named Anarkali that fell in love with the prince Salim, who later went on to rule under the name Jehangir. The dress she wore was a tight churidaar along with a long kurti. The kurti of the Anarkali is almost like a long, tight-fitted frock, hence, it is paired with a plain churidaar on the bottom, so the focus stays on the kurti. This type of an outfit is quite slimming, and extremely elegant. No wonder brides, even today, still prefer the Anarkali.

Another famous dress from this era is the Garara, also known as Sharara and when modified, Lehenga, which is a full-bodied skirt that is taking bridal fashion by storm. The Mughal era also gave us the widely-worn Salwar and Churidaar. These days, the basic design of the Salwar has been adapted and altered to modern perceptions and it is easy to find Salwars that cater to every taste. Known for its magnificent splendor, the Mughal dynasty’s citizen always adorned jewelry and ornaments such as anklets and bangles.

Side by side another great and powerful dynasty emerged – the Rajputs – a dynasty that embraced grandeur, chivalry and endorsed an ethnic pride. They were known as warriors, given their Kshatriya martial practices, and this has been amply reflected in their dressing. The Rajputana court attire for men included an Angarkhi, a Pagdi and the Churidaar pyjama. A kamarband was added to complete this look.

This evolved into a Sherwani for the groom on his wedding. For today’s times, a Jodhpuri jacket is the perfect way to compliment the grandiosity of the Rajputana. The Rajput women opted for fine Sarees and Lehengas when dressing, thus displaying unmatched luxury and affluence. Royal Rajasthani jewelry, from the days of the early Rajwada, still stand the test of times. Rajasthani jewelry is still very much in fashion, as diverse dignitaries and celebrities still sport them. Rajputana jewelry is most famous for its Kundan and Meenakari work. However, the Nathini is the most important piece of jewelry and a part of every bridal attire.

Who knew the evolution of traditional Indian clothing could be traced all the way to the cradle of civilization that was the Indus Valley? As you go through the ages looking for fashion, there are many more eras and dynasties that can be looked at. Do let us know what is your favorite era or dynasty to take fashion inspiration from.