It's Durga puja time. A time when many of you are fasting all morning and standing in pandal queues all night to pay respects to Ma Durga. And while you do all of that looking your best is no small business.
Ladies, we know the pressure (and the confusion) of going traditional during this festival: You want to indulge in nine yards of allure but stand out from the crowd. You want to drape your mom's rich handloom sari and get that old-fashioned swag going; but you want to look a little sexy too and wear something that screams street cool. You aren't quite sure if you want to wear a simple sari with heavy antique-looking jewellery or a heavy sari with light jewellery?
But sweat not; we have experts telling you what to wear and what not to wear to make you look like a Bong-diva-gone-regal all along, from Saptami all the way to Dashami. Remember, you have to wait one whole year for the next round of Puja fashion, so give in to the craze and deck up!
Morning look: A favourite with celebs, an anarkali suit is just what you need to shine on a Maha Saptami morning. The style staple from this Puja season will help you begin the festivities on a tasteful note. You can choose between a vibrant anarkali in citric colours or bright reds and pinks to reflect the festive mood. Or go for solid colours like black, gold, maroon, midnight blue or bottle green for a modest but rich look.
"A long kalamkari anarkali with a heavy black yoke adorned with couched flowers is an elegant look one can opt for," says Pali Sachdev of Monapali.
"But if an anarkali is not your style, then try a crushed or embroidered ethnic skirt in earthy colours teamed with a gold or copper top. A black or blue dress in rich fabrics like velvet, paired with a heavy worked over-coat will turn you into dusky beauty," she adds.
The works: Keep the make-up clean- add some kohl to your eyes and keep the lips nude. Curl up your locks or tie it in a loose side bun. But if you want to add an old-world charm to the look then a coiffed hairstyle is perfect. Throw on either a pair of antique-looking danglers or a stocky choker, and you can swagger the day ahead in your ultra-glam avatar!
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Evening look: After a day of elaborate Pujas, you finally have a date with your loved ones. And it's just the time to flaunt something quirky and justify the modernista in you. Draw some inspiration from bohemian fashion and go for a shimmery jumpsuit paired with a textured jacket in bright hues. Or try something fusion like long sheer jackets or trench coats with palazzo pants.
"A kimono-inspired top with lattice work or a satin jumpsuit with a net jacket is great for a Saptami evening jaunt- it's not too dressy but will make you stand out from the crowd," says Sachdev.
Prints are very much alive; so don't hesitate in wearing a nice printed tunic with leggings or a chunky top with printed skirt or jodhpurs. Pair these with a nice statement neckpiece or a rich stole, and you're almost good to go. Stick to clean makeup by highlighting your eyes with brown or black kohl. Crimson lips will add drama, but you can try light tints of red or soft matt colours in pink. But to add that much needed sparkle to your face go for glossy lips.
The works: Compliment the look by tying your hair into a high chignon or ponytail. For a softer look you can also adorn your curls with a headband or pearl necklace. Throw on a potli bag or embroidered clutch with those new pair of nude stilettos to finish off a young and happy you.
Morning look: This year, since ashtami and navami fall on the same day making this the penultimate day of Durga Puja, nothing less than an opulent sari will do. You can drape a pale georgette sari with a matching cutwork or tissue blouse as you partake in the auspicious Sandhi Puja on Maha Navami. Ornate embroidered and embellished saris are the order of the day and are perfect to start the day on a splendid note.
"Delicate floral beige and gold embroidery enhance this georgette sari. You can wear it as it is or drape it on a sheer petticoat with net frills at the hem to enhance its beauty and grace. Its nothing short of princess-like," says designer Abhishek Dutta.
Rich textiles like brocade, satin, net, crepe, tissue and georgette, embellished with sequin, zari and luxurious motifs will give you a majestic appearance. Get a fusion look by pair it with a backless choli or embellished quarter sleeves blouse. You can also look pretty in that subtle lehenga sari you just bought.
The works: Dutta suggests a clean makeup with just some primer, concealer, blush and gloss. Crimson lips will add to the drama. But highlighting the eyes with thick kohl and extra mascara is a must. Bindi is optional but, if you wear it then, remember to make it large and preferably red.
Married women can also apply sindoor to enhance the ensemble. Remember- it's Puja- the more traditional, the better. Wear wristlets or thick bangles in one hand (or both if you want to go a little over the top). Keep your hair open and give it a wet look. Better still tie it in a lose bun and let your accessories talk. To intensify the look, adorn your hair with a rose.
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Evening look: Do you want to be the centre of attention on Maha Ashtami/ Navami evening? Then arm yourself with a sari that steers away from conventional prints and patterns.
"Choose a traditional sari with a modern twist - it's understated but elegant. A dhakai with patch work or a kota will looks posh and chic," says designer Agnimitra Paul.
So keep your zari or stone work embellished sari or even an embroidered kantha or elegant dhakai handy to elevate your look for the night. Use your artistic bent of mind and doll up your sari with a multi-coloured patch work blouse. Simply break away from the sari and amp your style.
Be more dramatic with the make up. Smoky eyes with oodles of kohl and mascara will look glam. And if you add some blush on your cheeks, a gorgeous red bindi or carrot coloured sindoor on your forehead, then you are on a roll.
The works: Embellish the look with big beaded danglers, hoops and jhumkas, but give the stones a miss. You can either wear bright bangles in one hand or a chunky ring. Try experimenting with hair accessories too. "You can part your hair at the middle and do a side braid. You can also try hair jewellery by simply braiding your hair with it. Those with short hair can gel their hair sideways," says Paul. Finish off the look by throwing on an embellished potli bag or embroidered clutch.
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Evening look: The most eagerly awaited fiesta is nearing its end; and after all that glamorous Puja parikrama you need one last ensemble to give it a befitting finish. As you smear each other with sindoor and pray for happiness, blossom in a classic hand-woven ikkat. Or reserve your best chanderi, benarasi or kanchipuram as you wrap nostalgia around your heart and partake in Ma Durga's visarjan.
"This shaded ikkat with an eye-catching zari border is perfect for a profound Vijay Dashami. When paired with the right kind of jewellery, it is simply mystifying and matches up to the opulence of the night," says Kolkata-based artist and jewellery designer Narayana Sinha.
The works: And if you wish to get your Vijay Dashami look spot on then go for dramatic eyes. Make your eyes stand out with oodles of kohl and mascara. Apply a big bindi or use stoned ones to create an arty one. Sport pretty pink or red lips in matte and you are done. The night will surely be magical, so don't stay behind, wear some extravagant accessories. From striking choker, danglers and bangles to maang-tika and nose pin, just go with the flow. Keep the hair pulled up in chignon or go for waves to add some drama to the look.