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A Salwar is Born

The Salwar was first worn by the desert women as a cover to shield their legs from the blistering heat. It was made from coarse cotton and had no aesthetic value whatsoever. It was only during the reign of the Moguls that the concept of anything like a Salwar came about. It was a time to be lavish and clothing became a symbol of social status. The fabric employed to tailor clothes ranged from the finest silks, velvets, chiffons and muslins and it was at this time that lehenga, the sherara and the churidar also took birth.

The Salwar came to India with the invasion of the Aryans. They settled in Punjab and the locals adapted the salwar as their traditional dress. It was in Punjab that the concept of the Salwar as we know it today really came about. One only has to look at portraits of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a fearless Sikh chieftain, to see that the Salwar was popular in the Punjab district. Hence today when you think of the Salwar you automatically think about Punjab and Punjabi culture. As symbols of Punjabi culture the Salwar is only second to bhangra. It is the staple dress of Punjabi women and is worn throughout the year in various fashions from the simple day to day styles to the more elaborate styles reserved for celebrations such as weddings and especially Vasakhi.

The Salwar Today

It seems that Salwars have only recently been revolutionised. For a major part of the last century they had little impact on fashion and were seen only as something worn for traditional reasons. With the rise of Asian cool however, Indian, Pakistani and British Asian designers decided to embrace and reinvent the garment and the Salwar gained credibility and fashion cool. The Salwar has never been so revered as it is now with designers worldwide exploring its dimensions. It seems every designer in the know wants to give a new take on the Salwar.

p align="justify">Traditionally the Salwar has been teamed with kurthas of various lengths, knee length being the length of the season, but the daring have started teaming it with long shirts and as seen on the catwalks of India fashion week, bustiers and bandeau tops.

A perfect Salwar should have movement and create a sleek silhouette. The wearer should feel comfortable yet graceful if the salwar has been well tailored. That part of the reason the Salwar has never become outmoded is because of its comfort factor. The transition of the Salwar from a domestic sphere to a fashion sphere down to the fact that although it is not a modern garment, it has an ageless appeal and is effortlessly feminine.

Whatever the style of your Salwar you must remember that the tailoring is the most important thing. Wear the Salwar and do not let the Salwar wear you.