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Cover Story: Dress Up Your Diwali

This Diwali, it’s not about going heavy. No long dupattas or yards of fabric. The big trend is to go minimalistic. Three designers tell you what to wear, how to wear it and what to stay away from this festive season

brunch Updated: Oct 27, 2012 16:53 IST
Rachel Lopez

Three designers tell you what to wear, how to wear it and what to stay away from this festive season

Sounia Gohil
This Diwali, it’s not about going heavy. No long dupattas or yards of fabric. The big trend is to go minimalistic, but style your ensemble with lots of accessories. Keep it light with these picks:

Dress to impress: Sounia Gohil’s ensembles blend East and West

The maxi dress:

Pick one that is long and simple but has Indian embellishments. You could team it with a churidar and dupatta or just wear it as a dress.

The statement accessory:

Don’t layer it on. Pair your


[full-length kurta] or sari with a brooch. It’s more eye-catching.

The new Anarkali:

Choose a lighter style and wear it as a dress. And ditch the dark purples. Neons, pastels and nudes all work just as well and can be festive too. Neons and black, particularly, make a very chic statement.

Nikasha Tawadey
If you’re going to a formal event such as a wedding or a puja – don’t play around. Keep it classic with a simple sari or lehenga. But if it’s a mehendi or sangeet or a fun party, Indian wear that has been given a funky modern twist works so much better, and more Indian women are getting comfortable with it too. Here are three ideas to try:

The waistcoat:

It’s possible to work androgynous chic even with ethnic wear. Indian waistcoats for women hark back to the Punjab of the late 18th and early 19th century, so don’t be afraid of them. Team your kurta with a well-fitted sleeveless waistcoat, or just wear dhoti pants with a short kurti and a waistcoat. The fitted sleeveless jacket also goes well with a Patiala salwar suit and crosses the boundaries between Indian and western dressing.

The wide-leg sharara:

Because it’s just so comfortable. Again this is unique to our fashion heritage – they are from the 16th-century Mughal period. Wear it with a short kurta or low-back kurti, and to make things more modern, team it not with a three-metre dupatta, but a short scarf or stole.

The pleated pant:

Forget the salwar and go with bottoms in soft silk. Team them with a fitted brocade jacket. Or if you like a little more drama, pleated pants, with a sari blouse and a dupatta draped like a sari pallu Gujarati or Kerala style.

But if it has to be an Anarkali… Choose a design that ends mid-thigh – so as to become an empire-line dress, not a full-on kurta. It makes for a younger look.

NikashaFor guys

Make sure you look good enough for your sherwani. Remember that kurtas are still the mainstay of an Indian look. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Keep it simple:

Avoid embroidery all over your kurta. Choose colour and tailoring over embellishment. Try simple white Aligarh kurtas instead of heavy zardosi and use pops of colour to brighten up the white – like a crushed silk scarf in orange or fuchsia. This is the time of the year when a bright colour is not sissy.

Anita Dongre

Enough embellishment, bling and over decoration. There’s a better way to make a statement this season.

The light Anarkali:

The new twist on the garment is a reduced ghera, less volume and a simpler style. Short, petite women tend to get swamped in all those layers of fabric. So the new look is more streamlined, with a silhouette that makes you look less like a tent.

Don’t flare up: Anita Dongre’s Anarkalis are low on fuss and high on style – they’re fitted to make the most of your bust

Get one that concentrates on the upper body – a good shape from the bust to the waist, leaving volume for the lower half – most Indian women have beautiful shoulders. And forget heavy borders – discreet trims add length and look better. The good thing about the Anarkali is that is always makes you look dressed up – it’s like wearing a sari.

The A-line Jacket:

Coordinate a long well-tailored A-line jacket with a kurta and flared pants. These add length and blend Indian wear with western chic. Again, don’t overdo the embroidery. Go for an interesting fabric instead.

For guys
Guys need to remember to coordinate an entire look, not just throw on a kurta. And if they put on a kurta, they need to do it right.

The bandi: This is a great investment for any young man. A bandi is a short open vest with a Chinese collar. It’s so versatile. You can wear it with your churidar, with jeans and a T-shirt, or with a linen shirt and drawstring pants for a day event. It’s less restrictive and stuffy than a whole bandgala and if you want to dress it up, tuck a silk pocket square in a contrasting colour into the breast pocket.

The linen and silk kurta: Fully embroidered kurtas are out, unless you’re the groom and it’s done tastefully. Otherwise, stick to a solid colour and let the material be luxurious, not ostentatious, with embroidery or handiwork on it.

Red Anarkali suit in georgette richly embellished with resham embroidery

If you want to pump it up
Don’t want to be draped in six yards this Diwali? Try the Anarkali instead. It not only gives you a festive look but does well over bodies that have something or nothing to hide. The modern Anarkali is lighter so you’ll look slimmer still.

Red Anarkali suit in georgette richly embellished with resham embroidery, sequins and gold silver zari tari patchwork
From Panash, available at

Go glam in this Anarkali in neon
Yellow gauze with a Banarsi georgette lining. The yoke and the border are embellished with pearls and Swarovski crystals.
Available at Vinayak Couture, Greater Kailash-1, Delhi

Get into the festive spirit in this bright red georgette Anarkali with a gold print and coordinated dupatta. Available at Biba
Compiled by Veenu Singh

From HT Brunch, October 28

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