The Search for Indian Garb

March 27, 2013

Posted by Kanga.

On the 30th, two good friends of ours are getting married. It’s an Indian wedding, so our search for appropriate apparel began.

I started by asking for advice from my former coworkers. This gave me a few places to begin looking and some idea of what price to expect.

We started in Fujairah by just walking into a fabric shop. This was the best place – the best fabric, helpful and honest staff. Fabrics for salwar kameez usually come in pre-cut matched packages. This is a problem for me because the sets are cut with much shorter, smaller women in mind. There was a matched set that caught my eye, but the staff was honest and pointed out that there would not be enough material for someone my size. At the time, I wasn’t smart enough to just buy two matching sets to double the material. 20/20 hindsight. I bought a lovely teal fabric instead – 5 yards for 100 AED ($27.00).

One of the staff then escorted us to a tailor shop in the next building along with a picture to help communicate what I wanted. The tailor took my measurements and said that it would take four days and cost 80 AED ($22). We wandered around the building to see what other shops were there. DaddyBird has been wanting his own salwar/kameez for quite a while. We discovered another tailor with some nice wares in the window. DaddyBird headed in and negotiated with the tailor for two black salwar kameez sets out of some lovely soft fabric. His bill was 100 AED ($27) per set (fabric and sewing), but it would take two days longer than my tailoring.

man in black shirt and trousers

The salwar kameez would not really be fancy enough men’s wear for the wedding. We continued shopping in other fabric stores, looking for fabric suitable for a sherwani jacket. However, we encountered blank stares when we mentioned sherwani. Even the printed out picture we showed them didn’t help much. None of the fabric was to DaddyBird’s liking, so off to the Mina Bazaar in Dubai we went.

I’m not sure why I continued to look at fabric for myself, but I did. You may remember that we are lousy at negotiation and Eastern style shopping/negotiation. We should have agreed on our tactics and signals before heading into the first shop. I ended up buying two fabric sets for more than I should have. In my defense, it was a matter of bad communication. The salesman mentioned the word “tailor,” so I specifically asked “do you have a tailor here?” I even pointed with my finger on the counter. He answered “yes” and then indicated that it would only take two hours to sew. Thinking that the purchase price included the sewing, I agreed to prices that were too high for what I ended up with. I lived and learned. I have actually started sewing one of the pieces obtained at this shop, but found that there was a two inch hole cut in the middle of the back and that the lining material is not colorfast. The project is somewhat stalled for the moment.

DaddyBird was also checking in the shops to see what men’s attire might be available, but the largest size available was 46 or 48 and he needs a 50 or 52. Several salesmen tried to tell him that the 46 would do. He actually tried one on to prove his point.

We went into a second shop with fabrics for women and endured quite a show put on by the salesman who probably would have shown me everything on their shelves if I had let him. He repeated his sales pitches frequently which included “this one is classic,” “the dupatta (scarf) is mind blowing,” “this one is the one for you.” I ended up buying two more sets from this shop. They are of better quality than the others, but still don’t have quite enough material.

teal fabric with gold and red embroidery in the shape of flowers

More fabric was needed for lining and sleeves for both of these.

black fabric with teal and pink flower embroidery, pink fabric with flower embroidery, plain pink fabric

So, it was back to the first fabric store in Fujairah where I got eight yards of teal satin for 6 AED/yd ($13.00) and three yards of pink for the same big 6 AED/yd. The staff were again very helpful finding just the right shade and giving us discounts.

teal and pink to match previous fabrics

Then we headed across the street to the lace and trim store. I wanted a little bit of extra bling for my teal salwar/kameez and some white lace for another set of material I hope to sew, someday. ($3.75/yd)


Now, as for DaddyBird’s search for a sherwani, we found a tailor in the Mina Bazaar area of Dubai. It turned out to be pretty pricy, so my six outfits don’t seem so bad in comparison. I still came out cheaper than he did.

tailor measuring man for a suit

We went back on Monday for a preliminary fitting. We pick the masterpiece up on Friday. DaddyBird very wisely listened to his wifey and chose the blue material instead of the black.

It has been quite an adventure and a lot of work for just a few hours at a wedding party. We need to line up a few more weddings to get more use out of our hard earned threads. We would have missed all this fun if we could have just bought something off the rack.



  1. what a super fun thing to do!!! Those are lovely colors and I cannot wait to see your duds. Odd you had trouble finding what you wanted, did the persons of the wedding not tell you what you needed or where to find it?

  2. Hi,
    I got to this post of yours while searching online for sherwaani tailors in dubai. Could you pls fwd me any contact details of the tailor you speak of here. I’d really appreciate it since I’m having quiet the sherwaani crisis right now.

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