Salwar kameez, from Max Tilke's Oriental Costume, 1922
Shalwar kameez, also spelled salwar kameez or shalwar qameez, is a traditional outfit originating in Central Asia and South Asia and is a generic term used to describe different styles of dress. The shalwar kameez can be worn by both men and women, although styles differ by gender. The shalwar and the kameez are two garments which have been combined to form the shalwar kameez outfit.
The shalwar are loose pajama-like trousers. The legs are wide at the top, and narrow at the ankle. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic, often seen with a Western-style collar; however, for female apparel, the term is now loosely applied to collarless or mandarin-collared kurtas. The kameez might be worn with pajamas as well, either for fashion or comfort. Some kameez styles have side seams (known as the chaak), left open below the waist-line, giving the wearer greater freedom of movement.
The kameez is usually seen straight and flat, but there are a variety of styles. Modern kameez styles are more likely to have European-inspired set-in sleeves. If the tailor's taste or skill are displayed, it will be seen in the shape of the neckline and the decoration of the kameez. Traditionally, the female kameez was a modest article of clothing, but modern versions of the female kameez can be much less modest than traditional versions. The kameez may be cut with a deep neckline, sewn in diaphanous fabrics, or styled in cap-sleeve or sleeveless designs.
In India, the garment was originally popular in the North as a convenient and modest alternative to a sari. Owing to its traditionally generous cut, the kameez also fits well on most people regardless of body shape, it has become popular across the sub-continent.
Another style of the shalwar kameez is the Anarkali suit. The Aarkali suit is a timeless style which has become very popular. The Anarkali suit is made up of a long, frock-style top and features a slim fitted bottom.
Etymology and history
The pants, or salvar, are known as salwar in Bengali, salvar in Punjabi: ਸਲਵਾਰ ਕਮੀਜ, salvaar or shalvaar શલવાર કમીઝ in Gujarati, salvaar or shalvar शलवार क़मीज़ in Hindi, and shalvar in Urdu: شلوار قمیض.
Garments cut like the kameez are known in many cultures. According to Dorothy Burnham, of the Royal Ontario Museum, the "seamless shirt," woven in one piece on warp-weighted looms, was superseded in early Roman times by cloth woven on vertical looms and carefully pieced so as not to waste any cloth. 10th century cotton shirts recovered from the Egyptian desert are cut much like the kameez or the contemporary Egyptian jellabah or galabia.
Transliterations starting from Punjabi often render the sibilant sound at the start of salwar/shalwar as an "s". Transliterations starting from Urdu, Lahnda, Persian, Pashto, Turkish languages use "sh". Both spellings are found in common English usage. The shalwar spelling seems to be most common in Canada and the United Kingdom, and is the preferred spelling in the Oxford English Dictionary. Salwar is the spelling most commonly used in India. The word kameez is also spelled with a Q, as in Qameez.
Different forms of Shalwar kameez
The following can be mentioned amongst some of the forms of shalwar kameez namely: Khet partug, Perahan tunban, churidar kameez, Dogri suthan and kurta, Sindhi suthan and cholo and the Anarkali Salwar Suit.
- Khet partug
- Perahan tunban
- Kashmiri Phiran and poots
- Anarkali Salwar Suit
- Ross Howard (2014) Kafiristan 
- Unquiet Pasts: Risk Society, Lived Cultural Heritage, Re-Designing Reflexivity - Stephanie Koerner, Ian Russell - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2010-08-16. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
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- Bachu 2004
- Burnham, Dorothy. 1973. Cut My Cote, Royal Ontario Museum. p. 10.
- Bachu, Parminder (2004), Dangerous Designs: Asian Women Fashion the Diaspora Economies, London: Routledge. Pp. xii, 196, ISBN 0415072212, archived from the original on December 31, 2008
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- Walton-Roberts, Margaret; Pratt, Geraldine (2005), "Mobile Modernities: One South Asian Family Negotiates Immigration, Gender and Class in Canada", Gender, Place and Culture 12 (2): 173–195, doi:10.1080/09663690500094823.
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