Sherwani vs Kurta: When to Wear and How to Style Them


Indian culture keeps you on your toes with different festivals, ceremonies, weddings and functions. The events leave little or no time in between to pick the best ensemble for yourself.

Talking about women, there are almost a zillion ethnic wear options to pick from however, for men, that is not the case. For men, the choices are mostly a sherwani or a kurta pajama. Despite the fact that these two ethnic wear options are extremely common in men, many men aren’t very familiar with the foundational difference between Kurta and Sherwani.  They usually end up buying something else and miss out on getting something that fits rightfully for the approaching occasion.

Let’s understand the basic difference between Kurta and Sherwani and what’s the right occasion to wear them.

What is a Kurta?

A kurta is a classic tunic that typically falls to the knee or mid-calf and is distinguished by its relaxed fit and straight cut. You can find a kurta in tons of designs, ranging from basic, plain cotton versions for everyday casual wear to exaggerated, heavily embellished ones for festivals and celebrations. A kurta is a versatile option that makes it appropriate for a vast range of occasions, from everyday outings to semi-formal gatherings. You can find a  trendy and chic kurta in breathable cotton and linen fabric for the summer seasons to luxurious silk and brocade for more dressy winter season events. The comfort and trend that a kurta offers have established its much-deserved place as a timeless option in Indian ethnic fashion.

What is a Sherwani?

A sherwani is a more formal-looking long coat-like attire that is synonymous with royalty and grace. Generally made from luxurious fabrics like silk and velvet, sherwanis are typically heavily embroidered with sequins, beads, and other detailed work, making them a perfect selection for weddings and other lavish celebrations. The structured silhouette of a sherwani with its intricate elements, sets its position in concrete as a sign of culture and prominence. Many may associate a sherwani with just weddings but sherwanis can be worn at other big formal events. It usually is paired with churidars or trousers to get a distinguished look.

Tracing the evolution of Kurtas and Sherwanis

A kurta is profoundly ingrained in the Indian culture for decades now. Originally a simple attire, it has evolved over centuries into various regional and modernised versions. Its fundamental relaxed design has made it a go-to for everyday wear for men, but its versatility meant that it could effortlessly be dressed up and styled for certain occasions. 

While the sherwani has a rich history, it has its roots embedded in the Mughal era. It evolved from the Persian garment “angarkha,” which is a typical cape-like garment. From there, the sherwani grew into the opulent, elongated coat we identify today. During the Mughal era, the men who wore sherwani represented nobility and royalty as they owned garments made of luxurious materials and intricate embroidery. 

Both the kurta and the sherwani spotlight the prosperous and rich cultural heritage of our country, with obvious Mughal influences in their design and craftsmanship. Local versions like the Punjabi kurta and the Bengali kurta further accentuate its adaptability and diversity across India.

Kurta and Sherwani: How Their Cuts and Styles Define Their Elegance

Kurta: The Supreme Versatility and Comfort

A  kurta is loved by men for its easy going, free-flow fit, which makes it excellent for a range of settings, from informal outings to semi-formal occasions. Here are some key elements that define the elegance of a kurta:

  • Length of a kurta: Kurtas come in different lengths, from those that fall just above the knee to more elongated styles that reach mid-calf. Shorter kurtas are often preferred for everyday wear, while longer ones can be more suited for semi-formal/formal occasions.
  • The sleeves: Kurtas come in a variety of sleeve types. You can easily find kurtas with full sleeves, three-quarter sleeves, and short sleeves. The sleeve style you pick for your kurta can significantly impact how you are going to look.
  • Kurta Side Slits: Most kurtas come with side slits, which is an amazing feature to add to the comfort. The kurta slits can be higher which are often found in more trendy designs, while traditional kurtas tend to have lower slits.
  • Kurta Hem Design: The hem of a kurta can be linear or curved. A straight hem has a more traditional, standard appearance, while a curved hem can add a contemporary twist.
  • Abundant Options of Necklines and Embellishments: When it comes to kurtas the neckline and work options are endless. They are available in round, V-neck, and collar styles. They also come with embroidery, sequins, and beads.

Sherwani: The second name to Royalty

While a kurta is very popular for its comfy fit, the sherwani is well preferred by men for its structured and fit silhouette, which has an aesthetic and glamorous appeal to it:

  • The Close Fit Of A sherwani:A Sherwani is designed to fit closely to the body, providing a tailored look that is meant to accentuate your body features. This fitted style is a key feature of the sherwani’s grand appearance.
  • Sherwani Length: A sherwani is usually longer than a kurta, as it usually extends to the knees or  even slightly below it, offering an elongated/tall appearance.
  • Front Closure: The front closure is a descriptive feature of sherwani. The closure often includes a row of decorated buttons, sometimes by a concealed zipper for a look that is cohesive and put-together.
  • Fabric and Work: Sherwanis are typically made from rich fabrics like silk and velvet, which give them a luxurious vibe. They often come with heavy embroidery or sequin work.
  • Necklines: A sherwani neckline is typically higher than a kurta and is more structured, often comprising of a mandarin collar that adds to the royal look.

Choosing Between Sherwani and Kurta for Various Occasions

If you are confused between when to wear a sherwani and when a kurta is the best option, always consider the season and occasion in mind, as this will solve the majority of your doubts:

  • Casual or Semi-Formal: For not-so-formal family gatherings, celebrations, festivals, or for everyday wear, a kurta is versatile and comfortable option to go ahead with.
    A kurta is best suited for daytime and summer events.
  • Formal Events and Grand Celebrations: For events like weddings, receptions, and other grand celebrations that call for manly glam, a sherwani is ideal with its luxurious fabrics and intricate detailing.

Styling Tips for Sherwani and Kurta

Now that you have made up your mind on what is best for you and when you’re wearing it, it is time to enhance your Kurta and Sherwani look with these trendy styling tips:

  • Styling a Kurta:
    • Pair your kurta with churidars or straight-cut trousers for a desi look.
    • You may also opt for denim or palazzos for a relaxed contemporary addition.
    • Accessorize with a stole, simple chain, or statement watch.
  • Styling a Sherwani:
    • Pair your sherwani with pants or fitted trousers to raise the glam quo.
    • Drape a stole or dupatta over the shoulder.
    • Complete the look with traditional footwear like mojris or juttis.

Sherwani and Kurta Care Tips: Keeping Them Looking New

Appropriate care can keep your kurtas and sherwanis looking their best even after years. This promotes fashion sustainability and keeps your clothes looking as good as new. Here are some tips to take care of your kurta and sherwani :

  • Kurta Care Tips:
    • Always follow care instructions as per what is mentioned on fabric (hand-wash, machine-wash, or dry-clean). Prefer dry cleaning to avoid any fabric damage. 
    • Store in a cool, dry place and avoid hanging heavy weight kurtas on hangers to prevent stretching.
  • Sherwani Care Tips:
    • Dry cleaning is favourably recommended for delicate fabrics and embroidered materials.
    • Carefully store your sherwani in a garment bag to protect it from dust and insects.
    • Use padded hangers to maintain shapeof your sherwani and air it out regularly to control unwanted odours.
Aditi Gupta
Aditi Gupta
Hey, I am Aditi. Join me on this journey as I explore the latest trends, delve into timeless classics, and provide valuable insights into the ever-evolving world of fashion.