Dupatta is a scarf that is like a shawl and is essential to many South Asian women's clothing (usually matched with the garment). The dupatta is most commonly used as part of the women's salwar kameez costume and worn over the kurta and the gharara, but is originally part of the gagra choli outfit. The dupatta has long been a symbol of modesty in South Asian dress as its main purpose is as a veil. In recent times the trend of dupattas for men, worn over the kurta or sherwani, has become commonplace.
Dupatta is worn in many regional styles across South Asia. Originally, it was worn as a symbol of modesty. While that symbolism continues, many today wear it as just a decorative accessory. There is no single way of wearing the dupatta, and as time evolves and fashion modernizes, the style of the dupatta has also evolved.
A dupatta is traditionally worn across both shoulders and around head. However, the dupatta can be worn like a cape around the entire torso. The material for the dupatta varies per the suit. There are various modes of wearing dupatta. When not draped over the head in the traditional style, it is usually worn with the middle portion of the dupatta resting on the chest like a garland with the ends thrown over each shoulder. When the dupatta is worn with the salwar kameez it is casually allowed to flow down the front and back. In current fashions, the dupatta is frequently draped over one shoulder and even over just the arms. Another recent trend is the short dupatta, which is more a scarf or a stole, often worn with kurtas and Indo-Western clothing. Essentially, the dupatta is often treated as an accessory in current urban fashion.