The three pieces of the salwar kameez

The traditional salwar kameez suit has three pieces: salwar, kameez, and dupatta (sometimes called a chooni).

The kameez is a long tunic shaped with a high waist (just below the bust) and either a wide flaring skirt or side slits that end just above the hip line. The similarity between the word "kameez" and the words "camisole" or "chemise" (or Spanish "camisa") makes it easier to remember that the kameez is the shirt or tunic.

The traditional salwar (pronounced sal waar′; the "w" is halfway between v and w) is a pair of loose drawstring pants that take their shape partly from the way the fabric is gathered on the drawstring and partly from a structured cuff. 

The dupatta (sometimes called a chooni) is a long scarf or shawl that represents (and serves to preserve) modesty and respect. Although those of us who grew up in jeans tend to think of scarves as an optional accessory, wearing the dupatta is an essential part of dressing decently when wearing salwar kameez in a traditional community.

Although many salwar kameez fabrics come from textile mills, it is still easy to find fabrics that are spun, woven, dyed or block-printed, and embroidered by hand in traditional cottage industries and artisan communities throughout India.

The traditional salwar suit starts as a set of three fabrics designed for that specific suit. The design details, though subtle, are closely coordinated, so resist the temptation to substitute or mix and match pieces from different suits even if they look very similar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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