India’s clothing is as vibrant and diverse as its food, architecture and people. The country has seen many different cultures over the years, from the royal Mughal influences to the older kingdoms of the Rajputs and the Chola dynasty. This is reflected in the rich textiles and beautiful silhouettes of Indian clothing. Here’s an overview of the types of clothing Indian people traditionally wear.


Saree/Sari –

A garment most commonly associated with Indian culture; the Saree is a staple in a lot of Indian women’s wardrobes. It’s a rectangular piece of cloth ranging from 5 to 9 yards, that is draped to form pleats in the front or the back, depending on which part of the country you’re from, and finished off with one end draped over the shoulder. The secret to draping a sari is a not-so-well-kept secret that is passed down from one generation to the next.

Salwar Kameez –

The Salwar Kameez is a 3 piece outfit comprising of the kameez (long shirt), salwar (baggy trousers) and a dupatta (scarf). It can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the fabric used as well as embroidery that would make it appropriate for festival celebrations and wedding events.

Ghagra Choli –

The Ghagra Choli is an outfit comprising of 2-3 pieces with the ghagra, a long skirt, and the Choli, a blouse. Most ghagra cholis also have a dupatta (scarf) that is draped on top of the outfit. They are made with rich textiles and embroidery, and is the outfit of choice for a lot of Indian brides and wedding guests alike.

Choli –

A choli is a short blouse that is either worn with a skirt or under a sari. The choli can sometimes be the focal point of an outfit depending on how ornate and styled it is.

Kurta –

A kurta is a long shirt and is a versatile garment that can be worn over jeans for a casual look or with churidar pants and a dupatta for a dressed-up look.

Dhoti –

A Dhoti is a long, unstitched piece of cloth that is draped around the legs and tied at the waist. While traditionally worn by men, it has crossed over into womenswear as well. It is a comfortable and breathable garment that works in the tropical conditions of Southern India.

Churidar –

Churidars are tight fitting, extra-long pants that gather around the ankle when worn. They’re worn under kurtas, and are an alternative to their looser fitting counterpart, the salwar.

Anarkali –

An Anarkali is a long, flowy garment with an empire waist that comprises of kalis(panels) that give it a nice full skirt. It is worn over churidars, and sometimes over skirts. It originated in Pakistan and got its name from a story about a courtesan in the Mughal empire.

Sherwani –

A Sherwani is a garment worn by men and the outfit of choice for a lot of Indian and Pakistani grooms. It is a long ornate coat worn over churidar pants. They tend to be made with silks and jacquard fabrics with some embroidery at the collar and sleeves.

Patyala –

A Patyala pant comes from its namesake town in Punjab. It is a heavily draped pair of trousers, with layers and layers of fabric that is offset by pairing it with a fitted knee-length kurta top.

Dupatta –

A Dupatta, originally intended as an added layer for modesty, has become a way to add color and interest to an outfit. It can be a simple, solid colored rectangular piece of cloth or embellished with ornate borders and embroidery.

Lungi/Sarong –

Worn by men, it is a sheet of cloth wrapped around the waist and tucked at the hip, falling just below the ankle. It usually made with breathable cotton, making it comfortable for the tropics. In southern India it is called a Pancha, where it is made out of fine silk and is traditionally worn by the men in the bridal party.


Bindi –

A bindi is a decorative adhesive dot or motif that is worn between one’s eyebrows. It could be a simple solid colored dot/rhinestone or something more ornate.

Jhumka –

Jhumkas are long dangly earrings that can dress up an outfit instantly. They are usually studs or hooks with a dome shaped bottom half.

Maang Tikka –

A Maang Tikka is a piece of jewelry that is worn in the center part of your hair with the end resting on your forehead. It is made with gold or silver and adorned with precious or semi-precious stones. It is a long-standing bridal tradition to wear one.

Dupatta –

A Dupatta, originally intended as an added layer for modesty, has become a way to add color and interest to an outfit. It can be a simple, solid colored rectangular piece of cloth or embellished with ornate borders and embroidery.

Bangles –

While these accessories are not exclusive to India, the style and the way they’re worn are. There are so many varieties and styles but they’re usually carefully selected and stacked to match your outfit perfectly.

Anklets –

These fun accessories adorn the ankle and are often made to include bells that make a sound when you walk or dance. They’re made of gold or silver and meant to be glimpsed occasionally under a lehenga skirt.

Kamar Bandh –

A Kamar bandh is an ornate waist belt that is worn over a sari or a lehenga. It cinches at the waist, accentuating curves and acting as an added decorative element. Kamarmeans waist and Bandh is band or tie.

Jootis –

Jootis are ethnic hand-made shoes/chappals and hand-embroidered ballet flats. They come in various colours with beautiful intricate details on them.

Nose piercings –

While ear piercings are a given more most Indian women at a young age, nose piercings are an optional piercing that can enhance Indian features. Marathi women wear beautiful nose rings/studs called a Nath, made from gold and precious stones. The style and the side of the piercing can vary from region to region.