The traditional Baluch attire for a woman is the same as the rest of Pakistan, there is a long dress paired with a shalwar and dupatta. The difference is that this dress is not called kameez but pashk that has an elaborately decorated bodice and an empire line with lots of pleats called chin in Baluchi. These pleats will run all around the waist or on either side. The shawl or head covering piece is called chadar.
The handcrafted embroideries of Balochistan are famous worldwide for their vivid colours, mirror work and architectural geometric aesthetic. They reflect the landscape, history and culture of the Baloch people. A Baluch woman's dress has four embroidered sections called doch. The bodice covering the chest is called jig that has a central motif usually shaped like a strip called toi place above the yok line at the waist.
The symmetrically placed panels of embroidery on the sleeves create dramatically tapered cufflinks called banzar or banzari. These sections are fitted and stitched close to the body. The frock like dress has a free-flowing skirt that further highlights the closely stitched panels of embroidery. The shalwar will also have a fitted hemline at the ankles with a wide panel of embroidery making it comfortable to wear while working.
The pado or las is a long pocket in front of the dress running the entire length of the dress from the waist. This is a signature part of the Balochi dress design as it has threadwork and mirror work shaped to look like a rectangle with a triangle top or bottom section. Like putting together a layout for a house, the balochi dress has blocks of decorated patches that give the solid coloured dress character and personality.
The embroidery terminology is reflective of the environment of Balochistan. The technique is called pakka meaning concrete or solid, indicating that the intricate threadwork is as strong as mud. There are various versions of the balochi dress in both casual and formal suiting.
Ther casual dress threadwork is usually cotton yarn that makes it easy to wear as daily wear, to work or at semi-formal lunches and family gatherings in the summer.
The elaborate formal wear has jamawar base with silk threadwork, the metallic handmade threadwork is unique and feels like a piece of folk art that is worn on special occasions or weddings. The pattern is drawn on the base fabric with small wooden or metal blocks similar to block printing, there are also appliqued pieces sewn onto the fabric separately.
The modern Balochi dress can be created by buying the patchwork and applique pieces sold without the dress. Ladies can choose the fabric of their own choice and simply match the colours to finish their dress.