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Pakistan / Wedding Traditions in Asia

Evolution of Pakistani Traditional wedding dresses from 1940s-2010s

Today, Pakistani fashion dominates our lives like an efficient engine that runs on an endless supply of fuel. Moreover, it is kept in such excellent condition by fashion enthusiasts who follow the always changing trends. Social media also assures that fashion penetrates our souls and is prominently shown in pictures.

This wasn’t always the case, though. Fashion trends used to last years before they could be replaced. Now, it is surprising if a fashion trend lasts more than six months. Older wedding gowns were incredibly simple and lovely, didn’t require a designer to make them, and lasted for years before being passed down to sisters or daughters.

In order to show how much Pakistani fashion industry has changed over the last century, we want to shed some light on how Pakistani wedding dresses have changed. Continue reading to find out how it all changed.

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Following the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Indian culture served as the primary inspiration for wedding clothes. The grooms wore simple sherwanis or kurta pajamas, while the bride’s dress had a few laces here and there.
In the 1940s, Gharara was the talk of the town. All the women wore ghararas on a regular basis, but on the big day, it was desired to wear a more celebratory version of the same. Fatima Ali Jinnah, the sister of Quaid-e-Azam, served as the source of inspiration. Pakistani traditional clothing for women was also gharara with a kameez.

Brides opted for ghararas in vibrant colors made of silk or zarbakh with lovely chaandi (silver) embroidery. The dupattas also had chaandi decorations, but the shirts were left plain.


If you take into account wedding dresses, Pakistan hasn’t changed much in the past ten years. Pakistani women were elegant and quite carefree. It’s interesting to note that moms and khalas (aunties) made the majority of the ghararas by hand at home.

Preparing hand-stitched, locally made dresses for the bride three to four months before the wedding allowed everyone to fully enjoy the wedding season. Sisters, relatives, and all the other ladies in the household gathered to stitch the bride’s ghararas after they had finished embroidering and adding laces.
Again, men wore plain sherwanis with straight-leg pants in white, off-white, cream, or black.


The 1960s put fashion in its proper context. It’s interesting to note that Sughra Kazmi was a couturier and the original bridal revivalist in Pakistan. Moreover, Maheen Khan established her company from her porch and was the sole seamstress in Lahore.

It’s interesting to note that Maheen Khan collaborated with a number of French designers, Stockman mannequins, and paved a new route for Pakistani women to enter the fashion business.
In fact, the bride’s color preferences got brighter as more combinations started coming in. Reds, maroons, blues, and greens in various tones were popular.

The dress’s material changed from being all-silk to tissue or a hybrid of the two. The current fashion trend was heavy jewelry. Brides wore three necklaces, many bangles, a lovely tikka, a nath on their noses, and beautiful jhumars on their heads.


Wedding formals had several fascinating changes during the 1970s. Urdu-speaking households continued to wear ghararas while the cool shalwar kameez fashions of the Punjabi culture took over. In addition, brides in the 1970s wore exquisitely designed shalwar kameez for their Mayyun and Mehndi. Yellow, mustard and green hues dominated the color scheme.

Reds and greens were used, though, during the important wedding festivities like Baraat and Valima. Interestingly, the preference for fabric changed from tissue to jamawar with elaborate motifs while the dupattas were made out of net, silk, or chiffon.

Men dressed in sherwani for the baraat and a three-piece western suit for the valima, accordingly.


The rise of Indian cinema brought attention to glam clothes. To emphasize the curves, ghararas were worn with shorter shirts, and “lehngas” were the newest trend.

Flared lehngas, which are often thigh-length, have made way for the simple shirt. However, the dupatta, which had extra motifs such as: lappa, gotaa, and chaandi worked on it, was the star of the show.

The ideal choice for ghararas and lehngas remained Jamawar (silk-only weave). Tissue for shirts and dupattas made a comeback. Deep reds were replaced by flowery pinks, startling pinks, greens mixed with pinks, and gold to improve the overall design of the bridal dress.


Names like Bunto Kazmi, Nilofer Shahid, Rizwan Beyg, Shamaeel, and Amir Adnan were well-known by the end of the 1980s. The first Pakistani fashion show, which included Maheen Khan and Freiha Altaf, took place in 1989. Karachi thus became known as Pakistan’s fashion hub.

In the early 1990s, hiring a designer was a huge thing, but brides begged their parents to get them specially made apparel so they would stand out. Although the designers demanded a high price, they created beautiful wedding attire for the bride and the groom.

Spending money on properly designed apparel suddenly made sense because photography also advanced. In particular, the baraat paved its way back in with a mix of reds and gold. Contrarily, Valima brides chose emerald greens, turquoise, fresh pink, and shades of blue.

Another aspect that improved the bride’s overall appearance was the makeup revolution. The fashion trend at the time was smoky eyelids and bright lip stains.

On the other side, men wore sherwanis with matching qullas (headgear) and shalwar. Nevertheless, they decided to dress in a 3-piece suit for valima.


The year 2000 marked the start of a brand-new era that offered several options. The structure of Pakistani fashion has changed significantly since fashion aficionados graduated from the Pakistani School of Fashion Design in Lahore.

Everyone wanted to flaunt the Ghagra and Choli style that made its way into our world from Indian cinema. Wedding season brought new fashion designers to the forefront, including HSY, Maheen Kardar, Nomi Ansari, Maria B, and Kamiar Rokni.

The brides wore beautiful lehengas with cholis that reached just below their slim waists. Some even choose to show theirs. Monogamous and one-tone color combinations were currently in style. Especially, it was thought to be ultimate to wear a crimson dress from top to bottom. Peach was another color that gained popularity. For brides on their valimas, peach or tea-pink provided a beautiful, delicate appearance.

The ghagra choli and lehnga choli remained in popularity, but the color combinations, decoration types, and embroidered work changed significantly. The most popular colors were peach, tea-pink, beige and gold, maroon and green, orange, and red.


Interestingly, Shararas became popular in the 2010s. Overall, the trousers have a similar style to ghararas, although they have less flow and a lower-flared one-piece.

In addition, uncommon color schemes with a huge amount of lappa, Tilla, and stonework surfaced. Purple and blues, maroon with beige, sea green and silver, and other color combinations were popular.

Nude colors rose to popularity in 2015, according to fashion experts. Simple beige, light brown, white, cream, pearl white, and other dull colors made their way into the bride’s attire with a contrasting crimson or maroon dupatta.


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