Sherwani (Urdu: شیروانی) is a long coat-like garment worn in South Asia, very similar to an Achkan or doublet, is notably known as Pakistan's national dress and is traditionally associated with the Muslim aristocracy of the northern Indian subcontinent. It is worn over the Kurta and Churidar, Khara pajama, a shalwar. It can be distinguished from the achkan by the fact that it is often made from heavier suiting fabrics, and by the presence of a lining.
The Sherwani originated in South Asia and was the court dress of nobles of the royals of India, before being more generally adopted in the late eighteenth century. It appeared during the period of British India in 18th century, as a fusion of the Shalwar Kameez with the British frock coat. It was gradually adopted by most of the Indian aristocracy, mostly Muslim, and later by the general population, as a more westernized form of traditional attire. Like Urdu, it also became a symbol of Muslim nobility. Before the independence of India and Pakistan, the Sherwani was closely associated with founders of Aligarh Movement. Following Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, all the professors and students wore Sherwani. The name "Aligarh Sherwani" was also coined, inspired by the popularity of the design at Aligarh Muslim University. At the Aligarh Muslim University, these Sherwanis are still worn to keep alive a long running tradition of academics.
The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Sir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, the richest man in the world, having a fortune estimated at US$2 billion in the early 1940s, always used to wear Sherwani. He ascended the throne in 1911. In his time, all the nobility at the court and all officers of the state also used to wear Sherwani.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah in national dress
After the independence of Pakistan, the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah frequently wore the Sherwani and made it the national dress of Pakistan despite the fact that English culture had greatly influenced his personal preferences, particularly when it came to dress. Earlier, Mohammad Ali Jinnah donned Western style clothing and he pursued the fashion with fervor. It is said he owned over 200 hand-tailored suits which he wore with heavily starched shirts with detachable collars. During his last years he was seen mostly in Sherwani and Karakul hat which subsequently came to be known as "Jinnah cap".
Following him most government officials in Pakistan such as the President and Prime Minister started to wear the formal black Sherwani over the shalwar qameez on state occasions and national holidays. But Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave respectability to this dress by wearing it in public.
It has also become almost customary for bride grooms to wear a sherwani on their wedding almost always accompanied by a turban. Wedding sherwanis usually tend to have embroidered collars and have been popularized in recent times.
Achkans and sherwanis are worn by many grooms as wedding dresses. These garments usually feature detailed embroidery or patterns.