Many Indian women wear ‘suits’ (kurta-patiala salwars, pyjama-kurtas, Fabindia kurta-salwars etc etc.). While there are no figures to measure its popularity, it is true that most urban women find the ‘suit’ far more comfortable than the saree.
Then why is the ‘suit’ usually so indescribably dowdy? According to fashion designer Nachiket Barve, “The saree movement, which kickstarted in the late ’90s, resulted in the suit taking a back seat in the Indian fashion scene.”
Apart from a few designers such as Meera Ali who experiment with silhouettes, most designers (including the grand dame of Indian textiles and fashion, Ritu Kumar) stick to staid styles, limiting their experiments to fabrics and embroideries. So we took a few cues from Pakistani designers (who were in Delhi for an exhibition) on how to soup up the suit. The salwar kameez is their national dress and they experiment with it. A lot! “We play with it as designers in India play with sarees and those abroad with western wear,” says designer Asim Jofa.
From the neck up
“Think of a neckline the way you’d conceptualise it in western wear, in dresses and tops,” says Suleman Pervez, the Lahore-based COO of Pakistani fashion brand Origins. Check out global designers’ collections and copy neck styles. If you have toned arms, go for spaghetti straps.
Experiment with straps
Break the monotony by contrasting the straps with the kurta. If the suit is a plain cotton one, have the straps in pearls, brocade borders or lace.
Opt for newer styles
The ‘U’, ‘round’, ‘square’ and ‘matka’ necks are passé. Instead, opt for different types of halters, boat necks, empire and cowl necks.
Play the band
Go a step further and get a band collar. It is a change from the done-to-death Chinese collars seen on suits. Have a swan neck? Embellish the band.
How to get a leg up
Repeat to yourself: salwars and churidars are not the only lowers that look good with suits. You need to be imaginative with them. They can make or break a look. So try different styles, from narrow pants to broad pyjamas
Finish the ends of the lowers with interesting fabrics. Lace, velvet, satin and embroidered patches are options.
Suits don’t always have to be modest. And cotton is not the only option for lowers. Experiment with see-through netm dreamy organza, soft chiffons or playful georgettes.
Add interesting details to the salwar. It is a garment in itself. Deck it up with gota or colour patches. You can also make the salwar loose or fitted.
Cut to cuts
Get creative with silhouettes. Wear cuts that suit your body. Go for kaftans, narrow, figure-hugging, long kurtas with a hint of lowers or whatever else takes your fancy.
Let it skim
Tight is not always sexy. Even internationally, loose silhouettes are fashion forward. Thin or fat? For either body type, flowy silhouettes work well.
Innovate with hemlines. Like with the lowers, finish the kurtas with different fabrics. Have them asymmetrical or round, rather than the usual square.
Keep it long
It’s a myth that long kurtas suit only tall women. Short women look equally graceful. Wear ankle-skimming kurtas. They’re a nice break from the current styles.
Adapt, adjust, create
This is a little tough. You’ll need to go through a few fashion magazines and websites. Take printouts for your tailor to ensure that he/she gets it right. You can copy a lot of western wear techniques such as side and front slits, pleats, box pleats, draping and pin tucks.
Layer the kurta the way you would layer western wear. Have a plain, pleated slip and layer it with a printed, lace jacket. You can also do it the other way round.
Intersperse vertical panels of contrasting prints in the kurta. This will add volume, detailing and also colour. But be careful, it can look tacky.
Rather than a kurta in one print or colour, mix several unusual prints. Stitch them together for a cool style aesthetic. Go for 3 or 4 prints in one kurta, and top with details.
Fabrics to get you through the summer
A type of cotton, it is lightweight, tough, crisp (more than mulmul) and sheer. It can be easily dyed and printed and doesn’t wrinkle easy.
Semi-transparent, this is a mix of fine cotton and net. It breathes and is very light on the body.
Has the lightness of cotton and the sheen of satin. A very interesting mix, it can be used for dressy suits. It is the silk of summer.
Made of cotton, silk or synthetic fibre, it can be dyed in almost any shade. It breathes easy and has a good fall.
Mulmul: It feels like you are wearing nothing, but it crushes easily.
– Inputs by Veenu Singh
From HT Brunch, April 22
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch