Men’s Indian ethnic wear - both sherwani and kurta are traditional garments cherished in men’s wardrobes since time immemorial. They, however, serve different purposes and are worn on distinct occasions. While the sherwani is a formal and ceremonial attire reserved for special events, the kurta is a more versatile piece that can be adapted for a range of occasions, from casual to semi-formal. Both garments play significant roles in Indian men’s fashion, contributing to the rich cultural tapestry of the region. Lashkaraa fashionably dissects the two in detail.
What is a sherwani?
A sherwani style garment is a traditional Indian outfit for men that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is a long coat-like garment that is buttoned up to the collar and usually extends below the knee. Sherwanis are often worn over a kurta (a long tunic) and churidar (tapered trousers), creating a layered and elegant look. They’re often embellished or intricately embroidered with designs ranging from floral patterns to more intricate motifs, often using gold or silver thread.
Typically crafted from luxurious fabrics such as silk, brocade, or velvet, enhancing the regal and formal appearance, Sherwanis are considered formal wear and are commonly worn on special occasions such as weddings, festivals, and other significant celebrations. They are a popular choice for grooms during wedding ceremonies.
What is a Kurta?
A men’s kurta is a traditional Indian garment that is a type of long tunic or shirt. It is typically worn by men in South Asia, especially in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The kurta is a versatile piece of clothing that can be worn casually or on more formal occasions, depending on its design, fabric, and embellishments. While the traditional kurta has a straight cut, which means it doesn't have a defined waist or may have a slightly flared silhouette, modern day cuts and shapes vary. They can be paired with various bottoms, including churidar pants, pajamas, jeans, or trousers, depending on the occasion and personal preference.
When comparing Sherwani vs kurta, they can be differentiated on the basis of occasion, design, styling and formality of the event.
Historical Aspects of Sherwani and Kurta
The sherwani and kurta, both traditional garments in South Asian men's fashion, have historical significance and cultural roots that date back several centuries. The sherwani has its origins in Central Asia and was introduced to the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal era in the 19th century. It evolved as a fusion of the British frock coat and the traditional Indian angarkha. Having gained popularity during the reign of the Mughal emperors, who were patrons of art and culture, the sherwani was initially worn by the nobility and the aristocracy as a symbol of prestige and affluence. It then became associated with royal attire and was worn by kings, princes, and courtiers during formal ceremonies and celebrations.
Elaborate embroidery, luxurious fabrics, and a regal aesthetic became characteristic features. Over time, the silhouette has evolved, with different styles, fabrics, and embellishments.
It has become a prominent choice for grooms during wedding ceremonies and other significant events.
The kurta, or its precursor, has ancient roots in traditional Indian attire. It draws inspiration from the ancient dhoti-kurta style. Different regions in India had their own variations of the kurta. For example, the straight-cut kurta is associated with North India, while the angarkha style is more common in Rajasthan and parts of Gujarat. Just like the sherwani, the kurta style was also influenced by the Mughals. In the contemporary world, the kurta has become a common and versatile garment worn by men in everyday life. It is comfortable, suitable for the climate, and adapted to different regions.
Understanding the Cut and Style: Sherwani vs. Kurta
The cut and style of the sherwani and kurta are distinctive, reflecting their specific roles in Indian traditional attire. While the sherwanis are typically longer in length, extending below the knee and sometimes reaching the ankles, the kurta comes in various lengths from short, reaching just below the waist style, to long, extending to the hips, knees, or ankles. A style we love is the Golden Silk Sherwani. When seen closely, the sherwani is characterized by its longer length, structured silhouette, elaborate embellishments, and front-open style, making it a formal and ceremonial outfit. On the other hand, the kurta offers versatility in length and silhouette, with simpler embellishments, suitable for a range of occasions from casual to semi-formal.
Occasions to Wear Sherwani vs. Kurta
As part of the traditional Indian menswear, both the sherwani and kurta style are classic silhouettes and the choice between wearing the two depends on the formality of the occasion and personal style preferences. Usually the go-to option for grooms at their weddings, the sherwani adds a formal, sophisticated touch to any look. This is however paired with a kurta to go under the sherwani, so both are prerequisites for a wedding attire.
Other ceremonies where you can wear them together are receptions and formal parties. The kurta however, like the Multi Floral Printed Kurta Set, is much more versatile and works well for formal and semi-formal events alike. From casual gatherings and family get-togethers, to outings and more relaxed celebrations at home, a well-designed kurta is a comfortable yet culturally rich choice. In some cultural contexts, a kurta paired with trousers is suitable for office or work-related events as well like the Nude Pink Multicolor Silk Kurta. Further, short kurtas or casual kurta sets can be worn as part of daily wear, offering comfort with a touch of traditional style.
Maintaining Sherwani and Kurta: Tips
Maintaining sherwanis and kurtas, both of which are often crafted from delicate fabrics and may feature intricate embellishments, requires special care. Here are some tips for maintaining these traditional outfits:
- Dry Cleaning: Dry clean your sherwanis and kurtas to preserve the fabric and prevent damage. This is particularly important for garments with heavy embellishments.
- Storage: Store your sherwani or kurta in a garment bag to protect it from dust, light, and potential damage. Avoid hanging heavy sherwanis for extended periods to prevent stretching.
- Avoid Direct Sunlight: Direct sunlight can fade colors and damage delicate fabrics. Store your outfits in a cool, dark place.
- Steam, Don't Iron: Steam your sherwani to remove wrinkles. Avoid ironing, especially directly on embellishments.
- Read Care Labels: Always follow the care instructions provided on the garment's label.
- Repairs: Attend to any loose buttons, seams, or embellishments promptly to prevent further damage.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your sherwanis and kurtas remain in excellent condition, allowing you to enjoy their timeless beauty for years to come.