Traditional Hindu clothing includes the dhoti and sari. The dhoti, consisting of a loose skirt or shorts that drape like a wrap, is worn by men with or without a long shirt. The sari is a 5- to 7-yard-long swath of fabric that is draped and tucked into the waistband of a woman's undergarments. Sometimes a shawl called a chunni is draped over a woman's head.
The sari and dhoti are very simple pieces of clothing. Neither requires any tailoring, and they are often made in village workshops. There are many different ways to fold the cloth, with the emphasis in Hindu dress being on simplicity and elegance. Lightweight fabrics such as cotton, silk or nylon produce the best draped effect.
At one time, the dhoti was also worn by Hindu women. When India was conquered by the Muslims in the 12th century, women were required to cover their bodies and heads, and the sari became common mode of dress. There are many regional variations for draping the sari.
Changing customs allow many women in more urban areas to wear a garment called a salwar kameez, consisting of pants with a long shirt. Some Hindu women and men also prefer to wear the Western style of clothing.