In some parts of the world, time seems to stand still where culture and dress are concerned. The Indian subcontinent is one such place, taking old and new and blending it in a unique and alluring package that has endured for centuries, and will doubtless continue to endure for centuries more.
No one region in India shares exactly the same colors and styles; it depends partly upon climate, and partly upon subtly different social rules for an area as to what’s available. The sari is a length of cloth that drapes elegantly and loosely upon the feminine body. Similar yet distinctly different is the dhoti for men. The latter is rectangular and unstitched, draped over the shoulders and wrapped about the waist where it is knotted. The lungi (or sarong) is also popular. Such is the quality of Indian weaving, that many garments are simply lengths of cloth that are wrapped about the body and held in place with pins or knots. However, stitched garments do exist, they also tend to flow and breathe, which as you can see, is one unifying trait shared by almost all uniquely Indian attire. Salwar kameez (or tunic and pants) is an alternative to the sari that has gained ground for both men and women of late. The kurta is a loose, knee-length tunic that is usually worn with trousers and belted at the waist. Lastly, European-style trousers and shirts are also well-known to the subcontinent.
The Hindu film industry, colloquially known as Bollywood has been a strong influence on fashion and attire since the 1960s and 1970s, giving it a modern, sensual sensibility that many find appealing. From colors, which are typically bright and vibrant, accentuating the actress in question in a most flattering fashion, to unique cuts for the cloth, the sheer variety is nearly endless. Colors aren’t the only innovation; materials as well as embroidery techniques are springing up all the time. Velvet featuring zardosi (an embroidery technique of a fairly complex type) and deep-cut blouses are wildly popular.
When it comes to adornment, gold is exceedingly popular virtually everywhere in India. Indians believe that it has the power to purify anything it touches, so it’s typically worn against bare skin. Additionally, necklaces of beads, gold or diamonds are popular among girls and women, as are bangles worn upon the wrists, earrings, as well as finger and toe rings and anklets. The latter are usually worn by married women.