The only time in her life Seema Gupta ever shrieked that time-honoured phrase of journalism, "Stop Press!" was when the 26-year-old freelance editor accidentally sent her crinkled skirt to the istriwalla.
“It’s one of the funnier anecdotes of my life,” says Gupta. “But sad too, because I was too late. The istriwalla had already started on it and my favourite crinkled skirt was crinkled no longer.”
That’s the biggest drawback of crinkled skirts – maintaining their crushed look. But that doesn’t stop women from buying them. Ever. Why?
“It is such a classic style that it just never goes out of fashion,” says fashion stylist and CEO of design house Bian, Harmeet Bajaj. “And it’s an easy style that works for everyone irrespective of body shape or height. And best of all, when it’s made of a light fabric like voile or cotton, it gives you complete freedom of movement and is perfect for summer.”
It’s also perfect for India, adds designer Neeta Bhargava. Which explains why it’s such a classic. “The crinkled skirt utilises some of the best known traditional work of Indian artisans, such as tie-and-dye, batik and block printing,” says Bhargava. "And when you wear it with accessories like a jhola or a potli, it gives you a very ethnic look too." Bhargava regularly designs crinkled skirts and has recently done an eco-friendly line embellished with appliqué butterflies and garden flies.
But the real reason that crinkled skirts never, ever go out of style, is their versatility. They can be casual, they can be formal. They can be budget buys, they can be designer wear. They can be worn ethnic hippie style, they can look incredibly international. In other words, one skirt can mean many things.
Day wear-evening wear
For a casual day-wear look, you can: Team the skirt with a T-shirt - Wear it with a cotton spaghetti top and a pair of funky chappals.
For a more dressy evening look: Wear a printed skirt in light silk with embellishments like beads. Pali Sachdev of the designer duo Monapali, says you can also match it with a fitted knit top or even a jacket.Add a neck piece, some bangles and a crinkled stole if you like.
Or, like artist Nupur Kundu, you can wear it with a choli, big earrings and a stole. (Recently, she walked the ramp for a designer friend, wearing a black silk crinkled skirt with gold sequins on the border, and a georgette choli). Pali says you should let your footwear show, so have the skirt end slightly above your ankle.
The price factor
Designer crinkled skirts are available by the dozen. Monapali, for instance, retail their block-printed skirts at Hauz Khas village in Delhi and Loudon Street in Kolkata.
For non-designer crinkled skirts, scour street markets like Janpath and Sarojini Nagar in Delhi and Linking Road and Colaba Causeway in Mumbai; crafts bazaars like Dilli Haat. Specialised stores like Anokhi, The Shop and Soma Shop that focus on natural fabrics and traditional prints, and department stores like Westside and Ritu Wears are also a good idea.
Prices range from whatever you can bargain down to at the street stalls, to between Rs 500 and Rs 4,000 at the stores, and even above that at the designer outlets. “Crinkled skirts in cotton and voile are one of the regular feature at our store as women of all ages ask for them. With an affordable price tag, they are a big hit with everyone,” comments Shachi from The Shop.
Crinkled skirts don’t require ironing. But washing tends to de-crinkle them, and then they lose their charm.
“To make your skirt last longer, you must twist it in the same way that clothes are twisted in the tie-and-dye technique of dyeing, while it is still wet,” says Rahul of the designer duo Rahul and Gunjan. “Then tie knots at the top and bottom to ensure the crinkles are kept in place and let it dry.”
Send silk skirts to a dry cleaner. But cotton skirts can be washed at home, mildly starched to hold off that limp look, twisted while still wet and left to dry, says designer Pali Sachdev.