Uttar Pradesh has had a long history of getting exposed to various cultures and traditions, which has helped the state to evolve a pluralistic heritage that is manifested through costumes, cuisines, handicrafts, dances and music among many other things. Over centuries, a wide variety of cultures and traditions, crafts and costumes, arts and cuisines has evolved in this state that has long been the cultural seat of India.
As far as costumes of Uttar Pradesh are concerned, sarees are still popular among its women at large. In fact, sarees and salwar-kameej are generally worn by women all over India, and are the traditional dresses of the country. The saree, a six metre cloth worn with a matching stitched-blouse piece is the standard dress, which women prefer all over the country. Benarasi sarees are an exquisite creation and are generally worn in east India in formal occasions like marriages. Salwars, a long skirt reaching below the knees, along with pyjamas or lungis, is also a common costume in the state, and also all over the country.
However, nowadays, with continual pressure of globalization, western clothing has come to dominate the fashion of the Indian society, and UP is no exception. Where costume is concerned, in this day and age, the modern men of UP prefers to wear western clothing - shirts and trousers- and the trendy women don shirts and skirts and even shirts and trousers. However, in the villages of UP, the men usually wear kurtas, which are long and loose shirts. Or they wear half shirts known as gangis, and a dhoti as the lower garment, a scarf known as angauccha, and a cap or even a turban. Women wear loose blouses and sarees. They even wear lehengas, which is a long skirt of sorts, and a long scarf known as orhni, which is used to cover their head and the torso.
The male among the Muslim population of Uttar Pradesh prefer the kurta or a shirt as the upper garment, complemented by a lungi or pyjama as the lower garment. Sometimes, the kurta is substituted by a sherwani, a long coat worn in formal occasions. Additionally, they wear a cap or a turban. Muslim women wear pyjamas, kurtas and duppattas.
The costume unique to north Indian women in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana is the ghagra choli. It is one of the most attractive costumes of Uttar Pradesh and also in the major parts of north India; decorated with glittering mirrors. The ghagra is a long pleated skirt, very intricately decorated with handwork. It is worn with a matching blouse. The dress is designed to leave the back and the midriff bare, thereby contributing to the sensual appeal.
Jewellery plays a considerable part in the costumes of Uttar Pradesh. Gold chains, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, rings, earrings, anklets and tiaras, with or without diamonds and other precious stones, silver and platinum jewellery, are popular across the state. Most jewellery is worn by women. Men prefer rings and thin necklaces of gold or platinum. There are many shops in Uttar Pradesh selling jewellery. Jewellery with ghagra-cholis add a unique richness in dressing.