A traditional kurta tunic is composed of rectangular fabric pieces with perhaps a few gusset inserts, and is cut so as to leave no wasted fabric. The cut is usually simple, although decorative treatments can be elaborate. The sleeves of a traditional kurta tunic fall straight to the wrist; they do not narrow, as do many Western-cut sleeves. Sleeves are not cuffed, just hemmed and decorated. The front and back pieces of a simple kurta are also rectangular. The side seams are left open for few inches above the hem, which gives the wearer some ease of movement.
The kurta tunic usually opens in the front; some styles, however, button at the shoulder seam. The front opening is often a hemmed slit in the fabric, tied or buttoned at the top; some kurta tunics, however, have plackets rather than slits. The opening may be centered on the chest, or positioned off center. A traditional kurta tunic does not have a collar. Modern variants may feature stand-up collars of the type known to tailors and seamstresses as "mandarin" collars. These are the same sort of collars seen on achkans sherwanis and Nehru jackets. For kurta tunics, most of the tailors command a vast repertoire of methods, traditional and modern, for decorating the fabric. The most common decoration is embroidery. Many light summer kurta tunics feature chikan embroidery, around the hems and front opening. This embroidery is typically executed on light, semi-transparent fabric in a matching thread. The effect is ornate but subtle.