The chudidar suit or salwar kameez is officially the national dress of Pakistan but women everywhere in the Indian subcontinent wear it too. The word chudidar was coined because the long tight fitting trousers had extra material that would scrunch up at the bottom, making it resemble bangles (chudi).
This humble outfit has seen many avatars over the years yet remains true to its original roots. Letâ€™s travel back in time to see the origins and evolution of the evergreen chudidar suit.
The chudidar suit was inspired and adapted from the Iranian-Turkish baggy trousers (pyjamas) paired with a long loose shirt like apparel (later to become the kurta) and a long scarf (dupatta). This outfit became popular thanks to the Mughal regime that brought it to India. The new fashionable outfit soon left the courts and found its way to the common people of North India. The first versions of the suit often had long transparent overskirts and jackets along with the tightly bunched up chudidar bottom.
At the turn of the century, the chudidar was being paired with beautiful, voluminous kurtas or tunics. This was also the time when wide trousers would sometimes replace the tight fitted chudidar to match the new style of tunics.
This century brought us the salwar kameez as we know it today. The mid 20th century saw the chudidar being paired with a tunic that was tight at the bodice and flared below. Chiffon or muslin were commonly used to provide the flare. While this style was still influenced by Afghan clothing, it was on its way to becoming more individual in its Indian ethnicity.
Since the outfit became the most popular in Punjab, it came to be known across the country as the Punjabi suit. It featured heavily in mainstream Bollywood cinema. This was a time when heroines would debut a new style on screen and there would be mad rush everywhere at the tailors with young women wanting to copy the exact same look. For example, in the 60â€™s, the actress Sadhana (remember the Sadhana haircut?), revamped the whole salwar kameez making it look stylish, modern and sexy. The kameez was now extremely fitted and paired with a transparent dupatta. Years later, this style still rocks our wardrobes!
Since then, we have had anarkali suits that tell the story of the chudidarâ€™s royal beginnings in the Mughal court. Anarkalis are clearly a timeless classic as proven by history. These days, chudidars are often replaced by current fashionable pieces like denims, leggings, cotton pants and palazzos. Well, trends might come and go but the chudidar suit has firmly entrenched itself into the hearts of women all across the subcontinent and is definitely here to stay!
If you are inspired to wear a piece of history, shop Sochâ€™s collection of stunning anarkali suits here and feel like royalty.