How To Design a Salwar Kameez

    A salwar kameez is a beautiful, traditional outfit originating from South Asia. The salwar is the bottom half of the outfit – the trousers or pantaloons, whilst the kameez is the upper half – the shirt or blouse. Together they form the salwar kameez.

    One of the most magnificent things about a salwar kameez is sometimes designed entirely by the wear and often stitched to fit their proportions perfectly, making the outfit more personal than any in western fashion. Here we assess the different elements of a salwar kameez that can be mixed and matched when thinking about designing your own salwar kameez.

    First Step – Choosing The Right Neckline

    Image-2-NecklineStarting from the top down, the first part of the outfit we have to play with is the neckline. Like most parts of the outfit your proportions and appearance must be considered when deciding on your preferred neckline. The part of the outfit is a focal point, tasked with framing your face so it is important to get the right shape and style.

    There is no limit to the shapes that can be formed around the neck but some of the most common are the round neckline, sweetheart neckline, collared neckline and  the closed neckline.

    The round neck is perhaps the least adventurous. It is a simple design that leaves an open space providing the opportunity for more emphasis on jewelry that may adorn the neck. It is a modest look that combines both traditional and modern whilst also looking smart and casual.

    The sweetheart neckline is a far more elegant option and more popular with the younger generation. Commonly accompanied with short or no sleeves, a sweetheart neckline can perfectly accentuate the slenderness of the wearer.

    Next we come to the collared neck – a design of maximum elegance and class. This neckline can be perfectly exploited for both informal and formal occasions and allows room for embellishment around the collar, either elaborate decoration or subtle.

    The final example we have here, (but by no means the last option you have!),  is the closed neckline. This style is usually utilised to allow graceful embroidery to flow down the front of the salwar. It is a flamboyant and smart look that is usually used for very formal or ceremonial occasions.

    Getting To The Main Part – The Torso

    Image-3-TorsoNow, this is easily the central part of the outfit and the area which will make the largest impression. It is not so simple as choosing a type of neckline and is much more affected by how and when you plan to wear it, the fit, shape, material, thickness colour and length are all important considerations but it also more greatly dictated by your personal proportions.

    The best place to start is thinking about the length of your salwar and the length of your sleeves. You must choose then, between a long salwar that reaches your ankles and covers most of your kameez or a short one, more of a tunic-style shirt that reaches just the waist or goes ever so slightly beyond it. You must then consider the length of your sleeves, this comes down to just a few options; either three-quarter length sleeves, short sleeves or no sleeves at all.

    This means that the varieties are endless, long sleeves may suit a long salwar and short sleeves, a short salwar but there is nothing set in stone and you can really play around with the different options. Consider also how you plan on having the top half of your outfit fit your body – it can either hand loosely so that your sleeves and the bottom of your salwar move flamboyantly and do not restrict any movement. Alternatively, it can also be worn tightly, shaping the body and defining the wearer’s figure.

    The Final Part – The Kameez

    Image-4-KameezEvery detail counts and designing that perfect salwar kameez means also taking time to consider the type of kameez you want. This needs to match and compliment your salwar but also think that it will have the biggest influence on your comfort

    There are not quite so many variables with the kameez as there are with a salwar, after all they aren’t the most elaborate item of clothing but there may still be more to consider than you think. The kameez too must be chosen to be worn either tightly or loosely. Worn tightly to the legs is often seen as a smart and modern look whilst the loose and baggy kameez are far more traditional but equally far more comfortable!

    Sometimes the kameez is decorated with embroidery, though not as commonly as the salwar. They can look fantastic decorated around the heel but equally they are just as effective as a simple colour that brings to life the salwar, if you are truly in love with the top half of your outfit a simple colour that complements but does not detract the attention may be your best bet!

    Faisal Ahmed
    Faisal Ahmed
    Faisal Ahmed is a leading UK expert in South Asian Fabrics boasting over forty years’ experience of designing and trading. He now runs Birmingham-based Aziz Textiles Ltd, which has earned a respectable reputation amongst the Asian UK population.

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