India has a rich culture and tradition which is reflected in the clothing the Indians wear. Indian fashion has seen a metamorphosis since the ancient days. Although, the basics are the same, we can find a lot of western influences and modern designs that have been incorporated into the basic structure of any Indian outfit. So, what was ancient Indian fashion actually like? It was the time when there were no designers displaying their haute couture to pamper a luxurious line of clientele. Ancient India had its own kind of customs and traditions that were to be followed by generations and we can see its presence felt even today.
The Indian Wardrobe
Cotton clothing was predominantly used in India during the olden days. This was as early as the Harappan civilization. During the Aryan period, sari became the traditional clothing of Indian women. Sari is a long piece of cloth that can be wrapped in different ways over the body. Saris were also made in silk apart from the regular cotton ones. (Wealthy women only wore silk in those days.) saris generally had length of five yards or even nine yards, at times. It is worn as a skirt with the upper half thrown above the shoulder and sometimes worn over the head as a kind of a veil. Sometimes, it was even tucked between the legs to form a pattern of a pant. Even today, the traditional way of wearing a sari is still followed; sometimes with some modifications as well, which would depend upon the latest trends.
The sari has always been a very elegant piece of garment, which was always worn with a choli or a blouse. Choli is a tight fitting blouse that is worn under the sari. This trend evolved around the tenth century and some of the first designs covered only the front area, with the back being bare in this case. During the ancient days, such blouses were not stitched at all; in fact this garment was simply fastened at the back with a knot. Today, the basic choli is worn in various styles from halters to tube tops.
A startling fact about ancient Indian fashion was that the clothes were not stitched together at all. They did not really have garments that were sewed together! This was because most of the clothing was ready-to-wear, as soon as they left the loom. Examples of these would be the dhoti, sari, turban, and the scarf. Men wear the dhoti even today; though it is not worn by the average working man; it is still visible on the fashion runways and design houses as well. The dhoti covers the legs and has one end of it that is passed between the legs, which is then tucked behind. Dhotis were generally worn short and did not have the part that covered the chest and the shoulder area. Men combined these dhotis with turbans; these were also wrapped around the head in a particular fashion.
Although the saris and dhotis have never gone out of fashion, with the Persian influences in Indian fashion, women and men wore long tunics that went down to the knees with pants that were known as churidars. Ancient Indian attire also includes the very popular, versatile, comfortable, and stylish salwar-kameez. Salwar is a loose trouser whose basic design has been modified since ancient days. The tunics were worn with churidars. Indian couture can never be complete without the mention of the bindi. The basic form was a dot, which was worn on the forehead as a symbol of marriage. Today, even unmarried women in India wear the bindi, which is designed in various forms and shapes, colors as well as textures.
Gold was popular since the ancient days. Gold ornaments were always worn on the skin at all times. It was always believed that gold, as a metal, has the power to purify anything that it comes in contact with it. The noble metal was used since the days of the ancient Mohenjodaro and Harappa civilizations. Apart from such ornamental decorations, one also saw the use of flowers worn in the hair and eye makeup that always included kajal for the eyes. Indian fashion can never be complete without these elements.