Tunics are the latest trending upper wear garment in the west, though they have very ancient origins. In the west, they are descended from Greeks and Roman fashions, while the Indian versions are called kurtis or kurtas and are essentially evolutions of the kameez (top part of the salwar kameez outfit). Traditional tunics from India are highly in demand across the world as ethnic fashions have now become much loved and appreciated in western countries as well.
A traditional tunic is essentially just a long shirt that can reach anywhere between the hips and the knees (and may sometimes go even below the knees). It has a loose, straight fit, as compared to western tunics which tend to have a more body hugging cut. The sleeves are also very distinctive in a traditional top; unlike the western or modern varieties, these tunics have a straight cut for the sleeves as well. This means that they do not taper towards the wrist. There are other types of sleeves that can be seen in ladies traditional tops, such as the puff sleeve, half sleeve, three fourth sleeve and string tied sleeve. The neckline is traditionally thought to be either a v-neck or a u-neck in a kurti but in fact one can find other necklines as well, such as the high neck, round neck, collar neck and sweet heart neck. All of these would be considered traditional and are hence featured prominently in ladies’ traditional tops. The silhouette can often vary on the basis of what the traditional tunic is intended for. A casual wear, summer time tunic will have shorter sleeves and a more open, breezy cut while a party wear tunic may come up with a formal looking neckline such as a Mandarin collar or a high neck. Traditional tops for winter will come with long sleeves and closed necks to protect the wearer against the weather.
This kind of variation also extends to the fabrics, designs and colors. In summers, light and breezy materials are usually very popular. Cotton is an extremely important fabric in India and cotton kurtis and tunics are one of the most popular, if not the most popular, casual wear garments for younger women. The absorbent and breezy fabric can be easily dyed and printed which is why it is the perfect fabric to create vibrant and beautiful traditional tunics. It takes on traditional decoration techniques such as Rajasthani tie and dye (Bandhej) and complicated weaves such as Ikkat beautifully. Silk, on the other hand, is a very popular base fabric in the formal and party wear traditional tunics’ category because of its attractive sheen and smooth texture. Along with cotton, it is the preferred fabric for dyeing, printing and weaving into beautiful ethnic patterns and designs. Besides these two fabrics, jute and cotton are also frequently used to create traditional tunics, along with more modern materials such as georgette, chiffon and crepe.
For many women, the main attraction of traditional tunic styles is the sheer variety of choices they can browse. From brightly colored red, blue, green and yellow tunics to simple monochrome or subtly shimmering gold/silver tunics, there are a plethora of color options to choose from. Traditional tops are often very colorful and vibrant in their look, utilizing different colors in different parts of the outfit to create a very attractive patch work effect. Typically, bright prints are used to decorate casual wear traditional tunics. These prints can be either machine made or block printed using carved wooden blocks. A traditional tunic can come with many different regional prints such as Sanganeri, Dubka, Batik and Warli as well as exquisite prints or hand-painted designs of Madhubani art. Embroidery and embellishments can also be used to create traditional motifs of flowers, leaves, trees, animals, mythological figures, village life and celestial beings on ladies’ traditional tunics. Resham, zari, zardosi, cut dana, aari, booti, Kashida and Chikankari are just a few of the traditional embroidery forms one can find in traditional tunics. In terms of embellishments, sequins, stones, beads, mirrors and crystals may be used to emphasize certain points of the design or create ornate borders.
Gorgeous Varieties of the Traditional Tunic
Traditional tunics have become extremely popular because of the many Bollywood actresses who have worn them both on and off screen. They are typically paired with either plain or printed leggings; however, they can also be paired with dhotis, salwars, churidars and other such traditional bottom wear outfits. Just because they are traditional, however, does not mean they will not pair well with western pants such as jeans or trousers.
One can use appropriate jewelry to create an ethnic or indo western look with a traditional tunic as per the preference of the wearer. For an ethnic look, beaded jewelry, tribal necklaces and oxidized silver bangles should be used while pearl necklaces and silver pendants can add a more subtle, western touch to a traditional tunic.