They say a Pakistani woman’s outfit is incomplete without a billowing dupatta. While there are many women that are happy to break that rule, it is still very common to see women wear dupattas in public in Pakistan. Living in the United States, I acknowledge I have the freedom to go to an Eastern gathering without my dupatta tugging on nooks and crannies of tables, chairs, and other people, but out of respect, I ensure I have outfits with dupattas for religious occasions like Eid or Ramadan.
Growing up in a fashion-conscious family, I observed my grandmothers, aunts, and my mother of course to make very deliberate choices that suit their tastes, their lifestyles, and the latest trends at the time. And while dupattas were not the highest priority for all of them, dressing up was. The 1980’s and 1990’s were about structured and smart silhouettes without much fuss. But in the last 20 years, embellishments have taken over Pakistani fashion. Today, I thought to discuss some important ones to note.
Kingri edging: One of my favorites edgings in a suit is kingri edging because it is so ethnic. The little triangles shapes give the dupatta and the rest of the outfit a festive look. The edging is less fussy and gives the entire outfit a very clean and somewhat structural look. The best part is it comes in traditional colors like gold, white, and silver and modern colors like blues, pinks, and yellows. You can put Kingri anywhere from dupattas to shirts to the hems of the shalwar or pants. Some of the best branded Kingri work available is from The Pink Tree Company (See HERE) and Koel (See HERE).
Kirin: Kirin was very prevalent in Pakistan in the 1960’s and 1970’s. While the only outfit I own with gota Kirin is a turquoise blue gharara (See HERE) stitched by my deceased grandmother, I wouldn’t mind embellishing a fashionable cotton or lawn shirt with kirin. Traditionally the kirin was worn by women during the post-Mughal era and was revived during the 1960’s and 1950’s, however, it is still spotted on wedding dresses of brides these days. Certain girls who prefer having multiple parties prior to their wedding day, opt for kirin because it is much cheaper (but just as festive) as hand embroidered work.
Picot, Lace, and Piping: During the very late 1990’s and especially 2000’s, women and girls who did not want the typical look of Kingri and kirin started decorating their dupattas with picot and ribbon piping. In Karachi, you will find markets and markets dedicated just for dupatta embellishments like these. While piping is a thin contrasting colored ribbon stitched on a dupatta or suit, picot and lace are more decorative and intricate. Recently, I have seen lace appliques as edges as well. Reserved for dupattas mostly, these edgings give an outfit a nice finish and are done with machines, not by hand.
Other trimmings in pret-wear include shells, sequins, beads, coins, wooden carved beads, tussles, and anything you feel makes you look fancy.
Tassels/Pom Poms: These two (See HERE) trimmings made appearances a couple of years ago and were all the rage in lawn suits. These are playful additions to any Pakistani outfit, pret or even formal, and give the whole look a fun vibe with a whole lot of movement.
Formal & Bridal Wear
Formal and Bridal wear have very different hem edgings that suit the money you spent on them. While it is not uncommon to see gold and silver border decorated dupattas and outfits, hem embellishments like tassels are popular and involve beading instead of threads (See above).
Zari/Zardozi or Gota Kinari: You can read about embroidery common in Pakistan in a previous post of mine (See HERE). While Zari and Gota Kinari are popular wedding options for weddings, any embroidery work is appropriate for dupatta borders. Depending on your price point, you can go as expensive as zari, or opt for a slightly cheaper kamdani or gota.
Contrasting Fabric: Those women and girls who want a lot of vibrant colors and texture on their dupattas or if their dupatta fabric is plain can use contrasting color fabrics or ribbons on their dupattas’ edges. They can use one color or multiple colors to create borders, unlike hems. Fabric work like chatta patti & Tukriyaan work is quite beautiful during wedding festivities. You can even make it more extravagant with sequin or gota work or even zari work although the colors in the fabrics are vibrant enough to look pretty.
Metallic balls: This was an “odd” trend about 10 years ago and almost every bride in Pakistan and ahem ahem the United States had these metallic balls on their dupattas. A little heavy for my taste but a perfect addition for those brides that are wearing heavily worked dupattas or those who like a heavy look.