Fashion

Kurta vs. Kurti: Key Features & Differences

Kurta vs. Kurti: Key Features & Differences

Clothing is one of those forms of creative self-expression that can bring us together, whether we live near where we were born or we’ve created a new community abroad. A deeper understanding of the culture and history of our favorite fashion pieces can give us insight into tradition (with a modern twist, of course) and can make us feel connected to our roots. 

That’s why our team here at Lashkaraa is so excited to share the quality and luxury pieces your whole family will enjoy. We match parents and children with elegant, artisanal pieces that follow traditional craftsman techniques. And we’re sharing all you need to know about standout elements of classic outfits and pieces, like the kurta and the kurti. 

Very often, the kurta and kurti are believed to fall along gender lines. Many still think of the kurta as an outfit piece more suitable for men and boys and the kurti more appropriate for women. 

The truth is, both kurta and kurti are worn by men and women alike. However, there are actually several other vital differences separating these two practical and elegant pieces. We’re here to share all we know about kurtas, kurtis, and other beloved garments, both their similarities and differences. 

Learn about the features and major differences between the kurta and kurti and a whole lot more at Lashkaraa. Begin exploring our growing collection of formalwear for the whole family today. 

Kurta at a Glance

The kurta is one of the most recognizable pieces of clothing in South Asian fashion, though variations of the kurta have appeared in cultures and styles from all over the world. Typically, it can be found where it gets hot, especially in the summer, because the style is designed for coolness and comfort. Everything about the kurta, from the specific materials to the styling options, are made to accommodate those circumstances. 

Both men and women can wear the kurta for formal or more casual events (depending upon how it is styled).

Read on to review some of the kurta’s most basic features. Please keep in mind that these are general statements as every region and group may have their own versions and interpretations of the kurta style.

Collar Details

One of the defining features of a kurta is that it is traditionally created without a collar. The kurta has evolved over time, and some modern interpretations of the piece do include a standing collar. Yet, most of the time, a kurta will have no collar, which makes it easier to dress up or down with other pieces from your wardrobe. 

Commonly Seen Materials

The type of material your kurta will be made with depends very much on the season and environment. Summer kurtas are made with a breathable material like cotton or silk for maximum comfort. On the other hand, winter kurtas can be found in wool or a thicker type of silk known as “Khadi silk.” Generally, khadi silk is 50% cotton and 50% silk: the best of both worlds, according to many.

When purchasing a kurta, you always want to consider where you’ll be wearing it most to find the best materials for the job. 

Shape and Silhouette

Kurtas have a relatively simple shape, comprised largely of rectangular pieces of fabric. This design allows for minimal fabric waste and ease of movement when wearing a kurta.

In addition to a more rectangular shape in the body, kurtas also have a straight sleeve. Unlike Western-style shirts, which taper at the wrist, kurta sleeves do not narrow or change size along the length of the arm, nor are the sleeves cuffed. 

Formalwear Appropriate

The kurta style is relatively simple, but they are often embellished and adorned to give them a unique and elegant appearance. For instance, the sleeves may not be cuffed, but they could be hemmed and may have decorations applied.

Kurtas can make appearances on special occasions, in which case they are paired with high-quality and fancy pieces, and more elevated kurtas are worn for the event. 

They Fall Around the Knee

Another recognizable characteristic of the kurta is where it sits on the body. Typically, kurtas fall just above or below the knee. This allows for ease of movement and makes it much simpler to match your kurta with other upscale pieces.

A kurta typically looks like a long and draping shirt, though with so many ways to style and customize it, you can easily make your kurta your own. 

Kurti at a Glance

While kurti and kurta may sound very similar, there are actually some note-worthy differences that set them apart.

Here’s a look at the features you can expect to find in a kurti:

Variety of Collar Types 

Kurtas are known for having no collars, with a few exceptions. Kurtis, on the other hand, may have many different collar styles and designs that really make the final look unique. With a kurti, you may decide between collars and necklines like V-necks, boat-necks, keyholes, and off-the-shoulder styles. 

Because kurtas may have an opening on the shoulder rather than in the center, you certainly won’t find the variety of collar types, or any collar type at all, on most kurtas. If you like eye-catching collar styles and designs, then kurtis are the way to go. 

Made of “Feminine” Materials

Both kurtas and kurtis are designed to navigate the hot summer months in South Asia, but you’ll find a significant deviation in materials used from one to the next.

That’s because kurtis are associated with what are sometimes referred to as more “feminine” clothing materials. This may include linen, silk, chiffon, and more. 

Formalwear Appropriate

Like the kurta, kurti are also versatile pieces that can serve many roles. They may be worn to formal events or dressed down for more casual parties or meetings. 

Recently, kurti have grown in popularity as business casual workwear in the Western world. There are endless ways to style and wear your kurti so that it really feels like you. 

Fitted Shape

Kurtas are known for being loose and more rectangular in shape. This allows for coolness and comfort on even the hottest days of summer. The looseness also means that they match well with many different lowers, like leggings, pants, and dhoti pants. 

By comparison, kurtis are much more form-fitting and sit much closer to the body. They taper at the waist where the stitching ends and give more of a flattering silhouette.

If you’re looking for the perfect hot-weather outfit with loose sleeves and fabric, the kurta might be the piece for you. Still, for a breathable summer look that still delivers on style, a more form-fitting kurti won’t steer you wrong.

Sits Higher on the Body

Shape is one of the biggest areas where the kurta and kurti differ. While the kurta is a long and rectangular piece that falls around the knees, the kurti rests much higher on the body. The stitching for a kurti stops above the waist and allows for the midriff to show. 

While the cut of the kurti is much higher, it may be just as long as the kurta or even longer, coming down to the waist, knees, or ankles. The most significant feature between the two is that kurtis cinch at the waist and expose the midriff, whereas kurtas come down much lower and do not expose the skin below. 

A Complete, Varied Wardrobe

Kurtas and kurtis are just two classic fashion pieces from South Asian culture, representing the culture's environment, beauty, art, and creativity. This garment can adapt to the hottest days of the year as well as the coldest nights through high-quality materials and low-waste designs. They can be elevated for special occasions, like weddings and holidays. 

And while kurta and kurtis have quite a lot in common, there are distinct features that set them apart, as well. For instance, the kurta falls to the knee while the kurti cinches much higher up, exposing the midriff.

The materials used to create the two are different, and the kurta is known for having no collar, while you’ll find many other collar options for your kurti. You can elevate either with threadwork, beading, and detailing to help create a kurta or kurti look that’s one-of-a-kind. 

Whether you’re searching for a kurta or a kurti, you’ll find what you’re looking for here at Lashkaraa. We make it easy to find all the best pieces for all the best occasions, and we’re excited to share news and resources on iconic and useful pieces. We carry a collection of pieces perfect for busy families, and we’re here to match you with the best pieces for parents and kids. 

Find your next kurta or kurti and a whole lot more with the support of Lashkaraa today. 

 

Sources:

How To Wear: The Boat Neckline | Fashion | The Guardian

Chiffon | plain weave | Britannica

The Different Forms of Khadi in India | Outlook Traveller