Designer Jasvinder Kaur's book sheds light on fashion that we owe to British Raj

Combo image of men sporting a western coat with Indian Pajamas (L) and the book cover.

Fashion world chants the mantra, 'a male shines as a male if and only if he wears a tuxedo suit'. India received the tuxedo suit in a different way though it was already embraced by the men's world. The tuxedo suit was Indianised in the country in the early stages by pairing it with dhoti pants, Cummerbund popularly termed Kacha overlapping tuxedo and decorative stitches in collars and cuffs. In short we adapted tuxedo as our own.

A girl from Arnauli wearing a saree with lace details 1930.

The famous textile designer and researcher Ms. Jasvinder Kaur through her new book ‘Influence of the British Raj on the attire and textiles of Punjab’ explores the influence of 200 years of British rule on evolution of Punjabi fashion. She puts profound ideas in lucid terms so that even people not familiar with Punjabi fashion can think and understand. From Daily wear to festive clothing the book speaks a thousand stories.

A woman from Jalandhar donning a European skirt with leg-of-mutton blouse 1902.

Though Women are usually counted as the harbingers of modern fashion trends and style changes Ms. Kaur’s observation on Indian history indicates a different story. Indian men, mostly were more welcoming to British style of clothing and tried to emulate them. Aristocratic Indian men wearing suits were a common sight as early as 1920s. Ms. Kaur through her book opens the door on the impact of Imperial rule on every aspect of clothing like inner wear, accessories, choice of fabric, jewellery and picturesque stitchings. This tempt the readers to interestingly become aware of the daily routine, today's fashion ingredients even the behind door stories of style .

A hat with ‘good luck’ weaved on it, discovered from Una in the early twentieth century

As the British period photographs and illustrations are given in superb standards it is easy to understand. and of India, through illustrations and photographs from Ms. Kaur instigate a desire to learn more about the backstory of Punjabi fashion. It’s not just a fine read for history and fashion enthusiasts, but an invaluable source for students and scholarly researchers, is the added advantage of the book. Published by Rupa Publications, India. Price: ₹2,500

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