Salwar Kameez is a ubiquitous dress in India and neighboring countries. Consisting mainly of a bottom and a top, it has many variations and is often colourful. Uniquely it is something women wear and when men wear the equivalent it is called by other names (eg. kurta-pajama).
Salwar typically means a baggy pajama, a little constricted at the ankle. They can be with lots of pleats (gher), i.e. Patiala style, or much more streamlined, as worn regularly.
However, loosely the term is also used to denote churidars. Churidars are tight legging type bottoms made (usually) of cotton or similar material, with length greater than the leg. So it bunches up near the ankle. The more the cloth near the ankle, the better it is supposed to be.
So, what should one wear with this attire? The decision of shoes with salwar kameezes is pretty much second nature to those who have been seeing it since childhood, or wear it often. But to those who are new to the dress, there can be some trauma associated with the choice. So here I am, your angel in disguise (OK dispute that if you want! humph!) to help you.
Flats go very well with Salwars, as opposed to Churidars. Kolapuri chappals look very nice, as well as any Indian sandal type. Flip flop style chappals are also a good bet. You can look at the post on Indian sandals I had written about earlier for a pointer on the types available. You can choose any type from there.
When wearing flats with salwars, do ensure that the pajama is not too long for your leg, and does not curl up under your heel. Not only will that be a nuisance while walking, it also looks bad and spoils the show of the salwar. Afterall, the salwar looks best when it has a good fall from the waist, curtailing in the bakram of the ankle.
With churidars, flats can be worn (especially with short kurtas), it does not look as elegant. When wearing flats with churidars try and stick to jutis rather than any other type of flats. Jutis make the overall look nice and old-fashioned elegant. Kind of like what the men wear, yet also a little 1930’s type.
Stilettos / Pencil/ High heels
High heels go extremely well with any type of salwar kameez. With patiala salwars and kurtas, the high heel streamlines the figure and gives length to the silouhuette. The patiala tends to make people look shorter, so unless you are tall, a medium to high heel is recommended. A pencil thin heel makes you look more chic than a regular high heel. Platforms or wedges can also be worn.
A churidar kurta makes a person look thin and taller because of its streamlined outline. With a high heel, the posture is improved and the overall effect is that of a tall, thin, elegant person. Platforms can also be worn, but with caution as every platform shoe does not compliment all the styles of kurtas.
Medium heel sandals
For regular daily wear, medium heel sandals work best. (The type I outlined for short skirts in my earlier post). They are comfortable, while at the same time giving a slight elevtion making the legs look longer and you slimmer.
Indian chappals with the little block heel that they have work the best for this outfit at any given time. When the sandals have embellishments on the top straps, they can be worn for formal evenings out as well.
Salwar kameez, as anyone knows are typically very colourful. It is typically expected that the shoes match the oufit. If you don’t own sandals in matching colours, brown and dull bronze or gold are pretty universal. Black can be worn as well, but they stand out a little, because in most probability the dress will not have black in it. The same goes for white, though strappy cream sandals or very plain black sandals can work. Red slippers and shoes do very well, unless the dress is of a totally contrasting colour. However, unless wearing high heels, it is best to avoid the shiny shades of the colours, or patent leather. The emphasis then is on the feet rather than the overall look or outfit.
Indian chappals with gold embellishments or kolapuri chappals are pretty neutral and can be used with almost any outfit without worries. Kolapuris by virtue of their neutral brown shade make the outfit look good and very ethnic.
Style of Shoe
Like a friend of mine mentioned, Salwar Kameez essentially a feminine dress. and pretty ethnic. The shoe chosen to be worn with it should thus either be ethnic, or feminine. I would suggest to wear open toed sandals as far as possible when wearing high heels with this outfit. The only type of closed shoes that work with salwar kameezes well are jutis. However, if you are confident that your pumps are the perfect accessory to your outfit, you can give it a try. On the safer side though, shoes with two straps (like typical Indian chappals) or a couple of horizontal straps holding your feet in, or peep-toes for your high heels work best.
So go ahead, make you salwar kameez/ churidar kurta look better than it does with the correct pair of shoes and be ready for all the complements!