Dress Code in Kerala: Tradition Meets Modernity

Kerala, known for its lush landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has a distinct dress code that reflects its traditions and evolving fashion trends. The state’s traditional attire is an essential part of its cultural identity, deeply rooted in its history and customs. This blog explores the traditional and modern dress codes in Kerala, highlighting how they coexist and complement each other.

Traditional Dress for Men

Mundu The mundu is the quintessential garment for men in Kerala. This piece of cloth, usually white or cream, is wrapped around the waist and extends down to the ankles. It is often paired with a simple shirt or a kurta. The mundu is versatile and worn on both everyday occasions and special events.

Kasavu Mundu For festive occasions and religious ceremonies, men often wear the kasavu mundu, distinguished by its golden or colored border. This elegant version of the mundu is typically paired with a shirt or a traditional jubba, adding a touch of sophistication to the attire.

Traditional Dress for Women

Saree The saree is a staple in a Kerala woman’s wardrobe. The traditional Kerala saree, known as the Kasavu saree, is characterized by its off-white color and golden border. This saree is typically worn during festivals, weddings, and other special occasions, paired with traditional gold jewelry.

Settu Mundu (Mundum Neriyathum) Another popular traditional attire for women is the settu mundu, also known as mundum neriyathum. This two-piece ensemble consists of a lower garment (mundu) and an upper cloth (neriyathu), both usually white or cream with a golden border. The settu mundu is often worn during festivals like Onam and Vishu, symbolizing grace and tradition.

Dress Code for Festivals and Special Occasions

Onam Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, sees people adorning their finest traditional attire. Men typically wear kasavu mundu with matching shirts, while women opt for Kasavu sarees or settu mundu. The attire is often complemented with floral decorations and traditional jewelry, enhancing the festive spirit.

Temple Visits When visiting temples, both men and women adhere to a modest dress code. Men wear mundu, sometimes without a shirt or with a simple shirt, and women wear sarees, settu mundu, or churidars with a dupatta. This dress code reflects respect and devotion.

Modern Influences and Adaptations

While traditional attire remains prominent, modern fashion trends have also made their mark in Kerala. The younger generation often blends traditional and contemporary styles, creating a unique fashion statement.

Fusion Wear Fusion wear, combining traditional elements with modern designs, is increasingly popular. For example, women might pair a Kasavu saree with a stylish blouse, or men might wear a mundu with a trendy shirt. This blend of styles allows for personal expression while maintaining cultural roots.

Western Attire In urban areas, western attire such as jeans, t-shirts, dresses, and suits are commonly worn, especially among the younger population. However, traditional attire is still preferred for formal events and cultural celebrations.

Dress Code in Professional Settings

In professional settings, the dress code in Kerala is similar to global business standards. Men typically wear formal shirts, trousers, and sometimes suits, while women wear sarees, salwar kameez, or western business attire. However, on special occasions like festivals or cultural days, traditional attire is often encouraged.


The dress code in Kerala is a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity. While traditional attire like the mundu, Kasavu saree, and settu mundu continue to be integral to the state’s cultural identity, modern influences have led to a dynamic and evolving fashion landscape. This harmonious coexistence of old and new reflects the adaptability and rich heritage of Kerala, making its dress code a fascinating aspect of its culture. Whether in traditional or contemporary wear, the people of Kerala showcase their unique style and cultural pride with elegance and grace.

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