This wedding season, don’t suit up. Designer Kunal Rawal’s guide to making a statement with Indian formals instead.
In the age of social media, it’s difficult to repeat an outfit. There will always be that one person who will take a picture with you and upload it online. Situations like these call for investing in versatile separates that you can mix and match without having to spend a fortune on each event. Here are some must-have pieces, and how to wear them:
• Shorter hemmed kurtas
These are big this season, whether it’s a straight bottom, round bottom or a placket kurta (a kurta with a buttoned strip down the neck). It also flatters most people when fitted correctly - too loose and you look broader.
Shorter kurtas can be worn under a bundi with a Patiala/breech pants/ churidar for a formal Indian look. Team it with denims and sneakers for a fun semi-casual look, or with a blazer, chinos and lace-ups for an Indo-Western night look. Pairing short kurtas with an open bandhgala also makes for a great Indian contemporary silhouette.
• Contrast Linings
The best way to make your kurtas versatile in the least amount of effort possible is to add a contrast sleeve lining. Keep your sleeves down with a tonal bundi and churidar to a formal event, and wear the same kurta with the sleeves rolled up to add a pop of colour. It will make your outfit seem like a completely new one.
A sherwani is must-have, as it is great for layering. It can be worn shut with breech pants or fitted chinos for a dressy formal evening look. If the function does not demand such formality, wear it open like a jacket over a kurta and a shut bundi. It is important to have a sherwani that is tailored to you, and cut more like a jacket than a traditional sherwani, as the styling is more western.
Another must-have piece is a full placket kurta or a wrap around kurta. Both can be worn on their own or with a shirt or tee as an over-shirt and cardigan respectively, for a casual yet Indo-western approach.
When choosing your embroideries, keep your motifs smaller and tighter, so that the texture stands out more than the motif. Tone-on-tone rich embroideries instead of bright contrast, metallic and zari ones will always work better for a clean and chic look. It also gives you more ways to wear it, whether it is on a kurta or a jacket, instead of contrasting ones which have more recall, and hence look repetitive.
Elements like pipings and pintucks add sophistication and a level of detail without being the main focus of your outfit. It helps you balance it with another trend like layering or colour play.
• Black pintuck bundi
There is nothing it can’t be styled with. Wear it over a bright kurta and lighter bottoms for a light day look, a black kurta and churidar for a formal night look, with a Chinese collar shirt and chinos for a western take, or with a red and purple combo for a bolder fashion statement. It also goes well with a tee, tacks/denims and sneakers.
• Contemporary footwear works for most ethnic looks. Clean mojris and kolhapuris in western fabrics like washed or patent leather (no feathers, brocades and embroideries, please), can also be worn an Indo-western look.
• Go for western footwear like clean lace-ups and monk straps, but in colours like tans, browns, maroons and even black, to make it work for Indian wear.
• Simple, short stoles really add to the traditional quotient. It always helps to have one in champagne - it can make any look seem a little desi. Keep it slicker rather than going heavy with gold borders and embroideries.
• Multi-coloured and printed pocket squares can also help add variety to a look.
• Choose western fabrics in Indian fabrics like silks, in western colours like deep wine, navy and grey, to keep things versatile.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe