Indian Fashions can be confusing. Between the salwar kameez, shalwar kameez, churidars and parallel suits, it is sometimes hard to know exactly what you want.
Traditional Salwar Kameez
Traditional suit consisting of three pieces: a loose fitting, drawstring pajama like pant, a long, tunic style shirt and a long, complimenting or matching scarf. It is generally accepted that the kameez should come below the knee to the mid-calf region. The kameez is usually fitted throughout the shoulder and bust area and loose from the hips down to the hem. Side walking vents (splits) are added to both sides. Bollywood Fashion (Bollywood is the movie industry of India) tends to depict the salwar kameez with a tight, fitted look along the shoulders and bust areas. Most everyday wearers opt for a bit more room in their suits for comfort and mobility.
Churidar Kameez Suit
The kameez in this suit is like the traditional salwar kameez suit however, the bottoms are cut close and tight to the leg with a good deal extra length added so the material will wrinkle up around your ankle. This style of pant is called Churidar after the Hindi word for bangles Churi.
Parallel suits are an updated version of the salwar kameez, very popular among the younger generations of Indian women and many Non-Indian women as well. They are also known as a trouser suit or pant suit in Indian fashion clothing. They usually consist of the same three pieces found in a salwar kameez suit; however, this style of suit can be found without a dupatta as well. The difference between the parallel suit and salwar kameez suit is in the cut and style of the parallel suit. It features a trouser like fit through the hips and thighs and can either be straight down to the ankle like a trouser/pant or it can have a slightly flared leg similar to a boot cut pant. The flare can also be very wide depending on the individual suit and suit wearer’s taste. The most popular choice at this time is the slightly flared look. The pant is often embroidered along the leg or ankle. The top is much shorter than a traditional kameez, and is usually worn above the knee or at hip level. These suits can also be sleeveless, with thin straps, or compeletly strapless depening on the design.
Pajami Style Suit
This style suit is very similar to the churidar suit because it features the same long kameez. The difference is that the pajama (bottoms) does not have as much length in the lower leg and does not wrinkle around the ankle. It is a very slim fitting leg look.
This style suit is basically the same as a salwar kameez suit as it consists of the same three pieces. The difference lies in the cut and style of the suit. The salwars are very loose, featuring a many pleated look. The salwar is very baggy and is often embroidered along the leg or ankle. The kameez is shorter than a traditional suit, ranging from mid-thigh to above the knee. This suit can be sleeveless.
This term is often used to describe salwar kameez (shalwar kameez) suits that combine both Indian and Western styles and designs. The parallel suit (as described above) is a good example of Indo-West Fusion and these two terms are often used interchangeably.
Kurti or Kurta Kameez
Kurti and Kurta are words used to often describe a shorter tunic style shirt. These terms are often used to describe the Parallel Suit. This is very popular and is worn with leggings.
Patiala Suits or Punjabi Suits
This style suit is famous in the state of Punjab is a type of female trousers which has its roots in Patiala City in the Northern region of Punjab state in India. The King of Patiala in earlier times had its Royal dress as Patiala Salwar. It has a close resemblance to the pathani Suit which has similar loose lowers as salwars and long knee length top known as kameez. Over the decade the dress now is not worn by men but has classically transformed itself with new cuts and styling into women's Patiala salwar.
The reason why the patiala dress is preferred by most of the women of Punjab and other regions of Northern India is its comfortability and durability in summers. Since the patiala salwar is very loose and stitched with pleats its a very comfortable outfit to wear. Its distinguishing characteristic is folds of cloth stitched together that meet at the bottom. Patiala salwars require double the length of material to get stitched. The fall of the pleats of the Patiala salwar is such that it gives a beautiful draping effect.
It is a combination of a long kurta and bottoms that are usually in the form of a churidar. The kurta is fitted on the bust and normally features large pleats flowing around the legs like an umbrella.
Anarkali dresses owe their name to Anarkali, a famous courtesan in the court of the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The story of Anarkali is famous because of her affair with the Emperor's Son Salim, that ended in tragedy when Anarkali was buried alive behind a wall. This style is immortalised by her.
The styling of the dress has evolved over time, with trends ranging from floor lengths to normal length ones that end below the knees. Some newer Anarkali Salwar suits are short to suit the modern generation.
Each Salwaar Kameez is a Rich Fashion and Historical Tradition of its Own !