The lengthy, coat-like garment known as the sherwani has been most commonly associated with India. This is understandable given the history of the development of this clothing staple; however, the manner in which the sherwani has evolved in neighbouring Pakistan can be easily overlooked.
A garment popularised in India
The sherwani’s history can be traced back to British India in the 19th century. During this period, Britain ruled not only the territory that is today the country of India, but also other parts of the broader area known as the Indian subcontinent.
The sherwani was favoured as a form of court dress by northern Indian royals and nobles; however, use of the sherwani spread further during the late 19th century. Other members of Indian royalty and aristocracy gradually adopted it – and later still, the subcontinent’s general population took it up.
The increasing use of the sherwani in Pakistan
Pakistan formed as an independent dominion in 1947 – the same year India also broke away from British rule. After this milestone, the sherwani was often worn by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the politician who was the founder and first Governor General of Pakistan.
Most of the country’s government officials – the President and Prime Minister included – started wearing the formal black sherwani on top of the shalwar qameez during national holidays and state occasions. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto publicly wore the sherwani during his 1970s tenure as Prime Minister.
This made the sherwani more respectable attire for civilian and military officers. Due to a move by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s President from 1978 until 1988, it even became compulsory for officers to wear the sherwani during particular occasions, including national holidays.
How is the sherwani worn in Pakistan today?
Pakistan is one of the countries – also including India and Bangladesh – where the sherwani is at its most popular today. In India, it is often worn with dhotis or churidars, while in Pakistan, it is more typically worn alongside the shalwar instead.
Whether you wish to replicate Indian or Pakistani style for your own next special occasion, you can do so more easily by ordering sherwanis from our selection of Indian men’s clothing – or contacting us about our complete renowned bespoke service.