Indian national attire, in general, is one of the most beautiful, feminine, and even sexy (in a good way) outfits around the world. Not many folk costumes can fit literally any women’s body shape this well, hiding any imperfections and accentuating lovely feminine curves. And the garment that plays an important role in this ensemble is the choli blouse – short and tight-fitting top worn with a sari, lehenga choli, sharara, etc. This top is a charming accent, a centerpiece of all mentioned outfits. Besides, the unlimited variations of choli’s styles and designs make it possible for any woman to choose the right one.
A choli is a blouse or bodice. This garment is called “ravike” in some Indian regions. It is usually short, reaches only to a midriff, and tight-fitting. The sleeves can be short, three-quarter, or long, but some choli are sleeveless altogether.
The cut and design of a choli can be so different, but the main idea is always the same.
A choli is only a part of the attire, so it is worn with a sari, skirt, or pants. And usually, it matches the rest of the set in fabric, color, and décor or at least creates a harmonious composition.
If to talk about the fabric, the most comfortable everyday choli tops are made from silk cotton or other cotton mixes. Festive blouses are sewn from silk, chiffon, and georgette.
Historically, a choli derived from the ancient Indian piece called “stanapatta”, “kurpsika”, or “kanchuki”. This was a chestband that left the stomach bare, it was tied at the back. And it is very old, known since at least the 6th century B.C.
A choli blouse is especially beloved by Indian women because it can be very ornate. The most elaborately decorated and costly are bridal choli – they’re usually adorned with gold embroidery, crystals, precious stones, sequins, and various other sparkly elements. Also, the wedding costume is complemented with expensive jewelry, which only highlights the beauty of clothing. Festive and everyday choli are simpler than a bridal top, some of them don’t have any embellishments at all and are made in plain color, others stand out due to the color of the fabric or such adornments as embroidery, gems, and border trims.
At the same time, the main useful and pretty feature of a choli is not in its decorations but in its shape. It serves as a bra, supporting the bust without being vulgar or too-open. And the bare midriff not just adds attractiveness but also saves women from the heat of the Indian climate (it is proven by scientists that the stomach is one of those body parts most actively partaking in thermoregulation). So, a choli top is as functional as it is beautiful and decorative.
But this piece is not exclusively Indian. Similar garments to a choli, short fitting tops, are also traditional for several neighboring countries – Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, etc.