Pakistani clothing avaIn Pakistan, a lot of people still wear traditional clothes in daily life today. Their folk costumes changed and developed year after year to stay up to fashion. And by far not every country around the planet can say that about its national clothing. Why do people in Pakistan dress in folk attire when there are so many modern high-tech fabrics and pieces of clothes? Many Pakistani folk garments are made from silk or cotton, which are perfect materials for the local hot and humid climate, just as their cut and style are. So, why not use them in modern life?!

Pakistanis love their folk clothing and produce a lot of contemporary-looking traditional garments so that they could use such clothes every day. The local government officials are required to wear traditional outfits to work since 1982. But ordinary people often dress in the national costume as well. Let’s find out what garments are considered traditional in Pakistan.

The national costume in this country is called “shalwar kameez”, where shalwar means “loose pants” and kameez means “shirt”. Both men and women wear shalwar kameez, but, of course, their style differs. Also, there are a lot of regional peculiarities of Pakistani traditional costume – Baloch, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashtun people, and other ethnic groups have their own clothing traditions.

Men’s folk dress in Pakistan

Pakistani men traditionally wear such garments as shalwar kameez, kurta (about the knee-length shirt or jacket), achkan (knee-length jacket), sherwani (long light-weight coat), churidar (fitted trousers), pajama (another variation of pants), jama and angarkha (long coats of particular design), and other pieces of clothing typical for the Indian subcontinent.


Pakistani men wearing kurta
Pakistani men wearing a kurta


No matter what garment a man uses, his attire is usually modest, most of the skin is covered, and the outfit looks elegant. The traditional cut elongates the body, as a lot of upper garments are knee-length or longer. And the festive costume can be richly adorned with embroidery, prints, trimmings, made from expensive fine fabrics, etc. Pakistani male folk dress has some features of Ottoman and Indian traditional costumes.

There is practically always some kind of a headdress – either a fez (red skull-cap), or a taqiyah (soft round skull-cap), or a Jinnah cap (triangular cap made from karakul fur), or a pakol hat, or some kind of a turban.


Pakistani men wearing sherwani
Pakistani men wearing a sherwani


Pakistani shoes are also interesting, colorful, and ornate. The traditional footwear is called “Peshawari chappal” (comfortable leather sandals) or “khussa” (soft leather shoes, often with upturned toes). Both these accessories look stunning.

Women’s folk dress in Pakistan

Pakistani women prefer to use shalwar kameez of different styles, colors, and cuts. There are so many possible variations, but the main idea is always the same – pants are combined with a long shirt or blouse. The trousers can be baggy, straight-cut, fitted, etc. The kameez can have long, short, ¾ length sleeves, etc. The neckline and length of a shirt also differ.

Another garment worn with shalwar kameez or other clothes is a “dupatta”. It is a shawl or scarf worn around the head and shoulders or just thrown over the shoulders. This accessory is considered very fashionable among Pakistani women. Though, in some urban areas, females don’t use it.


Pakistani bride and her mother in traditional wedding clothes
Pakistani bride and her mother in traditional wedding clothes


But shalwar kameez is not the only attire popular in Pakistan. The local women also wear various dresses of modest design – stylish sarees, ghagra choli (long skirt & blouse combination), lehenga (ankle-length skirt + choli or another top), etc. For a special occasion, they may wear a sharara (gharara) – a set of clothing consisting of a long skirt or ruffle trousers, and some kind of a blouse.

Pakistani women look gorgeous in their festive clothing, decorated with needlework (often, gold embroidery), colorful prints, showy decorative borders, catchy color combinations, and lovely jewelry. The fabrics are light-weight, so they drape beautifully. Bright colors are very popular in Pakistani clothes, so even simple outfits, without any flashy jewels and gold embroidery, look festive and cheerful.

The traditional female footwear is also Peshawari chappal and khussa, but their designs differ from the male shoes, obviously.


children in Pakistan dress in traditional long upper garments
Even children in Pakistan dress in traditional long upper garments

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