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Shalwar Kameez - Kurti, Tunic and Dupatta

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Shalwar kameez including dupatta, kurti and tunic - traditional Islamic dress worn in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan

Shalwar kameez suits and tunics are seen more as South Asia or Central Asia styles of Islamic clothing. It is actually a unisex dress similar in way shirt and pants worn by Westerners.

Traditionally, shalwar kameez is worn in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In Pakistan, it is regarded as the national costume.

The shalwar is a loosely-fit pyjama-like pant. The legs are often wide at the top, and narrow at the ankle. Nowadays, there are several styles of shalwar pants following the current modern pant style and some are jean-like.

The kameez or kurti is a long shirt of tunic length, usually cut straight and flat. Contemporary kameez are more likely to have Western-inspired set-in sleeves. The neckline, sleeves and bottom edge are often decorated with embellishment or lace.

On a female, the shalwar kameez set is completed by wearing a dupatta or rectangular scarve or long shawl. Dupatta is considered as integral part of shalwar kameez used to cover the head or drape over the chest.


Tips & Ideas on Shalwar Kameez

The following tips and ideas will be useful to ensure stylish and trendy look with salwar kameez. These include for ready-made shalwar kameez suit, making your own or even purchasing salwar kameez fabric set.



The shalwar or pants come in many different styles. If you buy the costume as a set, the shalwar will be included. When you buy ready-made, you could have the opportunity to mix and match shalwar with kameez.

The different shalwar styles are:

Parallel shalwar - straight cut pants like western pants; loose on the top and the bottom, giving the look of a straight-leg or boot-cut pant

Churidar shalwar - loose from the knee up and tight from the knee down; made longer than the leg and bunches up around the ankle, creating the look of bangles around it

Patiala shalwar - the pants are sewn into many folds, creating luxurious drapes around the waistline


churidar shalwar

Churidar Salwar


When choosing the shalwar, consider the length and colour of the kameez. Make sure that shalwar style compliments the kameez and your figure as well as the dupatta that matches both pieces together. Select flowy material for salwar so that it falls well.

Pleats add pounds. If you want to look larger through the hips, opt for Patiala shalwar. To lengthen your legs wear slim, straight leg pants and for your salwar kameez suit parallel or pyjama shalwar will be a good choice.



Long Kameez gives you taller appearance. Closed-necked kameez along with Churidar shalwar looks fabulous and gives a slimmer look for heavy figure, but closed-necked kameez won't suit you if you have broad shoulders.

Churidar shalwars look perfectly chic with long kameezs or kurtas. Avoid wearing them on short kameezs especially if you have round body.



Avoid wearing too tight kameez. Kurta or kameez that fits well will make you look slimmer while tight tops will only add pounds to your body.

The kameez should be long enough to cover those 'trouble spots'. When choosing kameez and kurta styles, avoid constricting or too clingy design. They should be a little bit loose, although not too baggy.


Fabric Selection

Shalwar kameez are made from variety of fabrics including cotton, crepe, georgette, satin, silk, brocades, organza, polyester and many others. Points to consider before buying the costume are when and where will you be wearing it.

Cotton is suitable for warm and humid weather or season while knit fabrics keep us warm in the cold weather. These materials are perfect for daily wear around the house and running errands. Fabrics such as silk, satin, brocade and organza with embellishment and embroidery are suitable for special occasion and formal wear.



Although organza gives dramatic style in your shalwar kameez, if you have full body, avoid organza or any stiff material for slimmer look.

Try to find fabrics without too much print on them. Fabric with solid colors or with complimentary patterns and prints will add statement to your salwar kameez suit.



With the exception of ready-made or off-the-shelf shalwar kameez, most of these costume suits are unique designs, works corroborated between the owner and the seamstress.

When designing the costume, it is essential to consider your height and figure to obtain the most flattering cut. If you have broad shoulder, avoid puffy sleeve. To look taller and cover unsightly bulky areas of your body, opt for longer kameez.

To balance pear shaped body, wear set-in sleeves with good size shoulder pads. These shoulder pads will widen your shoulder a bit and balance up your upper torso with your wide hips.

If you have big bust, V-neck and scoop neck design are not the option as they emphasise the chest size. High neck design works well and with full sleeves, they complement the heavy bust. For small bust line, empire basques and V-necks in bulkier fabrics create an illusion of a fuller bust.



Depending on your skin tone, some colors look best on you. If you are dark colored, bright colors such as yellow have a tendency to make your skin look darker. However, bright but not vibrant colour such blue, green and maroon make your skin look lighter.

In order to see which colors flatter your skin tone, place fabric swatches under your face or on your arm.

If you have fair complexion, bright pastel colours such medium shades of pink, copper, green and blue suit you. For sallow complexions, turquoise, rusty shade and navy blue salwar kameez will look amazing on you. Earth colors like maroon and brown suit dark-skin tone.


Orange & blue tones shalwar kameez set

For broad figure, vertical print salwar kameez suit is a perfect choice with long length kameez. Avoid large prints material and bright solid color fabric if your body is on the plump side.

You can also play with colors to balance your body appearance. As a general rule, light and bright colours suit small figure and dark colour look great on heavy body. Hence, if you have large hips, wear dark shalwar and light coloured kameez.



Choose your accessories wisely. Accessories can enhance the look of your beautiful salwar kameez suit.

As salwar kameez is fairly elaborate attire whether by its design, fabric or embellishment, choose carefully accessories that could complement the costume.


Cluster necklace

Gemstone ring
Pearl necklace

Keep jewellery to a minimum when wearing salwar kameez with grandiose detailing - it will keep you look sophisticated and elegant.

For an ultra-modern look with your salwar kameez, dress head-to-toe in one colour and add ethnic jewellery or accessories.






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