Wearing a Punjabi suit feels like walking around in a handmade work of art. The tradition, attention to detail and diligent composition of a Punjabi suit is undeniably beautiful, no matter where or why you’re wearing yours. Once you put it on, it can be hard to take it off knowing how empowered and stunning it can make you feel.
Thankfully, that’s the beauty of the Punjabi suit – unlike certain other traditional outfits, Punjabi suits are incredibly versatile and can be worn for a variety of occasions, both formal and casual.
The term “Punjabi suit” is slightly broad and refers to a design that became popular around the time of the Mogul Empire, somewhere between 1500 and 1700 c.e. Punjabi suits are traditionally worn in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and have been a longtime staple in Indian culture.
There is no shortage of customizations you can select when shopping for a Punjabi suit – from intricate embellishments to striking colors to unique patterns, it’s rare to find two of the exact same Punjabi suit in one event or social setting.
Nowadays, there are so many different designs for Punjabi suits that make them arguably more versatile than ever – some include tighter-fitting pants, some are designed with numerous pleats, and others are simplified to the basic traditional design.
No matter where you don your Punjabi suit, you’re guaranteed to find a style, color and design that fits your body type and the needs of the occasion. Before we dig into the various places you might wear your Punjabi suit, let’s explore a few of the most popular styles:
- The Patiala Suit consists of a long kurta/kameez with wide or tight sleeves. The pants typically have more pleats or cuffs than other Punjabi suits.
- The Dhoti Salwar is designed in the style of a popular Indian male garment called the Dhoti
- The churidar kameez pairs a traditional kameez with tight-fitting pants that create rings near the ankle
The most traditional and popular style is the salwar kurta, which pairs loose-fitting pants with a close-fitting, short kurta and a matching dupatta (a long shawl designed to match the rest of the outfit and typically worn over one shoulder).
So where exactly does one wear these varying styles of Punjabi suits?
To a wedding or other formal gathering
If you are a guest at a traditional Indian wedding, a Punjabi suit may be your go-to attire. Wedding suits are typically heavily embellished and designed with rich, bold colors. You would also typically pair this look with heavy gold jewelry, Kundan and matching makeup and shoes.
You may also opt for a sleek A-line Punjabi suit for a wedding or other formal occasion. These suits are slightly less common in a formal setting, so you’re sure to stand out from the crowd just a bit.
Punjabi suits are a comfortable choice for weddings and can be easily customized to fit the venue, season and color scheme of the wedding or other formal occasion.
For work, school or everyday uses
You read that right! Punjabi suits are more than versatile enough to wear in a variety of casual settings, including your university, workplace or other everyday gathering spaces. You typically wouldn’t wear Punjabi suits with extravagant embellishments in these casual settings –though if you do, you would certainly steal the show and turn heads everywhere you go!
It’s more common to see Patiala- or Dhoti-style Punjabi suits in these casual settings, due to their looser and more comfortable nature. These styles also come in a variety of simpler patterns, colors and fabrics that breathe easier and allow you to move around quickly in your on-the-go lifestyle.
In many parts of India, you’ll see women wearing their Punjabi suits while walking around town, shopping or gathering in public spaces. This is part of the beauty of this tradition – no matter where you wear yours or where you are in the world, there are so many people just like you wearing a similar look (though with so many options, you probably won’t spot many of the exact same look!).
To cultural festivals and celebrations
One thing Westerners may not realize about Punjabi suits is that many of them are specially designed with deliberate decorations that carry a great deal of spiritual and cultural significance. For instance, it’s not uncommon to find a Punjabi suit that is decorated with symbols that are meant to guard the wearer against evil spirits and negative energies.
For this reason, it’s typical to see people wearing Punjabi suits at a variety of cultural festivals, including Diwali. The breadth of colors and embellishments also means it’s extremely easy to customize your Punjabi suit to honor the deity or event being celebrated during any given festival.
No matter where you choose to wear your Punjabi suit, the delicate details and vibrant designs are sure to reflect your personal style and suit the occasion perfectly.