The Many Fashions Of Punjabi Women: Your Ultimate Guide
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
There are many styles of fashion across the regions of Punjab varying in ornamentation and embroidery work depending on origination. Fashion also varies between South and North India. These styles have also been adapted to modern times. Just to confuse you even more they all have different names and aren't necessarily referred to by that name. Which makes it a nightmare when deciding what to wear as a foreigner living abroad.
Therefore here is your ultimate guide to understanding the more common styles of fashion worn throughout Punjab. The information provided, is to the best of my knowledge accurate, so please let me know if I have made an error. I have tried to summarise Punjabi fashion as broadly as possible so that it is easy to understand. Photos are all courtesy of Utsav Fashion your one stop shop for Indian fashion. You can purchase any of these styles via there web site www.utsavfashion.com or click the photos and be taken directly to the product shown. *These may no longer be available
The Lehenga Choli, is a popular style worn at many special occasions though most traditionally known to be worn on a brides wedding day. A bride's lehenga choli is particularly ornate with embellishments and embroidery work styled with much jewellery and accessories. Bridal Lehenga Choli differs vastly to fashion Lehenga Choli which are worn at special occasions.
A lehenga is a full length skirt which will be typically ornate with embellishments and embroidery depending on the region's traditions. The lehenga is then worn with a choli, which is a short sleeved blouse usually matching the lehanga. Unlike Southern Indian blouses, in Punjab a blouse is typically full length and will not show a woman's stomach out of modesty. Although with modern times there are some social classes where it is acceptable to show midriff, particularly for those who live abroad.
Accompanying a bride's lehenga choli will be a matching dupatta that is commonly adorned over the brides head like a veil and draped over one shoulder. It is then pinned into place as it is usually tremendously heavy due to the embellishments and fabric. However the dupatta can be worn in a variety of ways depending on personal choice.
A kurti is an A-line tunic that is either below knee length or full leg length. Traditionally in Punjab the kurta is known as the male version of a kurti. However in modern usage it can refer to the length, with the kurti generally falling just below the knee and the kurta being full length. Though you will find that most will simply refer to either styles as a kurti or kurta. Kurti's can be worn with either palazzo's, pajammi pants or churidaar leggings depending on the length. A kurti will typically be worn with palazzo pants, churidaar leggings or pajammi pants.
Kurti's nowadays can be stitched from a variety of materials such as polyester, georgette, cotton, rayon, chiffon or silk. Usually the kurti and pants will be stitched from matching material although it depends on the style of pant worn and personal preference. A short length kurti which falls at the knee is considered a kameez and will be worn with salwar pants.
Salwar Kameez Suit
This is the traditional fashion of women in Punjab and is worn as part of everyday living and it is also referred to as the Punjabi Suit. There are many different styles of Salwar Kameez/Punjabi Suits including the more common styles such as Anarkali Style, Abaya Style, and the Pakistani Suit. As with many cultural aspects of India, the salwar kameez differs between regions. However the structure of the suit essentially remains the same. It consists of the kameez which is a straight line tunic that is of knee length with splits on either side. It will have a high neckline out of modesty. The kameez can also be referred to as a kurti as they are not dissimilar in style. Depending on the style of kameez will depend on the style of pant worn.
The salwar pants are extremely loose in design and have many pleats that drape down the leg and is cuffed at the ankle. They are drawn with a cotton cord at the waistline. This is then worn with a dupatta which is similar to a veil or a scarf that is draped around the neckline out of modesty. However depending on the occasion a dupatta can be worn in a variety of ways, such as draped over the head usually for religious occasions or worn over the shoulder should the weather be hot. Young women tend to wear vibrantly coloured suits whilst older women will opt for more earthly subtle tones and textures. Should there be a special occasion then every woman will be adorned in ornate jewels and vibrant colours and textures.
The anarkali suit is a full length flowing frock style of salwar kameez. Typically it is tight fitted to accentuate the upper body then has layers of pleats that drape from the waist. It can be worn with churidaar leggings, pajammi pants, a lehenga, or palazzo pants.
However the most common styles worn are churidaar leggings and pajammi pants as the anarkali covers the legs unless it has a front split. In which case it will usually then be worn with palazzo pants or a lehenga. The anarkali suit is typically worn for special celebrations such as Mehndi Ceremonies, Weddings and other such occasions. A more ornate style is traditionally worn for such occasions and will be adorned in embellishments and embroidery work.
Pajammi Pants / Churidaar Leggings
Pajammi pants are loose fitted around the waist then tight fitting around the legs. They are excessively long in length as they are designed to gather around the ankle. They are drawn with a cotton string or with elastic. The pajammi pant is very similar to the churidaar leggings as they both gather at the ankle. The only difference is that churidaar leggings are essentially leggings therefore are fitted at the waist and leg.
Given there is not much difference between the two styles you will find people will refer to either of these styles in either of these names. Both of these styles are worn with any clothing that is below knee length such as a kurti or anarkali suit. Pajammi pants typically will be made of the same material used to make the kurti such as polyester, georgette, cotton, rayon, chiffon or silk. Churidaar leggings are mostly made from cotton as they are meant to have a stretch like quality.
Palazzo pants are tailored trousers that usually have wide fitted legs and are typically worn with a kurti. They are usually made from the same material as the kurti which can range from polyester, georgette, cotton, rayon, chiffon to silk.
The Jutti is Punjab's traditional dress shoe. It is merely a flat ballerina style shoe which can be round or pointed at the toes. There is also a traditional style of jutti that curls up at the toes, which I refer to as Aladdin shoes, however they are mostly worn by men. Jutti are usually brightly coloured with embroidery work and embellishments. Traditionally jutti are worn with the Punjabi Suit. They are especially comfortable to wear, more so than the ballerina flat worn in western fashion.
The long flowing, usually embroidered or embellished, scarf is known as a dupatta or can also be referred to as a chunni or stole. A dupatta is every Punjabi woman's must have accessory and worn with absolutely every style of fashion. Traditionally women are required to cover up and be modest therefore the dupatta is worn to achieve this. It is now seen as a fashion accessory and can make or break an outfit.