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Shalwar kameez, also spelled salwar kameez or shalwar qameez, is a traditional dress of South and Central Asia, especially of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it is worn by both men and women. In India it is worn mostly by women. It is also worn by women in Bangladesh. 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 with a western-style collar; however, for female apparel, the term is now loosely applied to collarless or Mandarin collared kurtas. The side seams (known as the chaak), left open below the waist-line, give the wearer greater freedom of movement.
The kameez is usually cut straight and flat; older kameez use traditional cuts, as shown in the illustration above. Modern kameez are more likely to have European-inspired set-in sleeves. The tailor's taste and skill are usually displayed, not in the overall cut, but in the shape of the neckline and the decoration of the kameez. Modern versions of the feminine 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. The kameez side seams may be split up to the thigh or even the waistline, and it may be worn with the salwar slung low on the hips. When a woman wears The Shalwar kameez is sometimes known as "Punjabi suit," in Britain. Quote: "And in Bubby Mahil’s fashion store in London, white socialites and young British Asians shop for the Canada. In Britain, South Asian women from the Punjab region to one with mainstream, and even high-fashion, appeal.
In India, the garment was originally confined to the North, but as a convenient and modest alternative to a sari - and also as one that flatters practically any body-type - it has become popular across the nation. By varying the fabric, color and the level of embroidery also be made to suit practically all climates.
Garments cut like the traditional 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to Dorothy Burnham, of the Royal Ontario Museum, the "seamless shirt," woven in one piece on warp-weighted looms, was superseded in early Roman times by cloth woven on vertical looms and carefully pieced so as not to waste any cloth. 10th century cotton shirts recovered from the Egyptian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 traditional 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 often spelled with an H, as in khameez.
Women in Sindh, Pakistan, dressed in ornate shalwars, in a picket line.
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