design / fashion

shalwar dance?

I have been looking around and noticing how more and more Western women are favouring a variation of garments worn by many women in the Indian sub-continent called Salwar kameez. Typically these are garments consisting of a loose long tunic (kameez) paired with pants (salwar). There are many spellling variations but this is the Punjabi version. All types of combinations are possible by playing with fullness, tightness, colour and cloth. And if you google salwar kameez you will see that it it is a vibrant and dynamic form of dress subject to the dictates of fashion but with a distinct Sub- continent flavour. still retaining it’s essential core. I wonder how many women here have thought that they are wearing a version of what their sisters overseas are wearing?

I was recently at Womad in Adelaide and I noticed many women wearing their own interpretation of these garments. I took a photo of two elegantly dressed women in tunic style tops teamed with pants.

Australian version of salwar kameez, elegant and climate appropriate

Australian version of salwar kameez, elegant and climate appropriate

This a fabulous clothing option for women it offers comfort, sun protection (if sleeves are included ) and infinite variation.

Amelia's version of Turkish trousers and Tunic top

Amelia’s version of Turkish trousers and Tunic top. Amelia was ridiculed and lampooned for her efforts to reform women’s clothing.

Amelia Bloomer is famous for popularising a form of dress based on Turkish women’s dress consisting of pants (bloomers and a tunic top) The image here shows how radically different her ideas were to the prevalent fashions of the 1850’s which were heavy, hot, expensive to maintain, and constrictive. Amelia was involved in securing women’s rights and was a forward thinking person of her time.

In Australia where I come from we are  able to make our own choices about clothing these days without fear of society’s comments. But if you are in the public eye it is a different matter, negative comments about Julia Gillard our Prime Minister and her clothing choices spring to mind. And of course if you are a Muslim woman and you choose to wear Hijab, you which is the addition of a scarf head covering, to your tunic and pants then you are subjected to unwanted attention in the form of unkind glances and sometimes racist comments.

From observation it seems to me that  we are moving forward in discovering a practical elegant form of dress suitable for our climate and that this is being done by average Australian women adapting regional Asian wear to create a unique Aussie version of the salwar kameez .


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