In October, the festivities kick off right from day one. Navratri and Durga Puja begin in the first week and it’s time for mirrorwork cholis, bright hues and flowing ghagras. Or is it? New trends take a spin away from the chaniya choli with soft flowy patterns and soft-pastels to androgynous silhouettes and fun shades. They’re also much easier to put together. Most styles need only a few tweaks to go from day to night, so there’s more time for Pari Hoon Main.
Most designers suggest picking an ensemble that is sensible and fuss-free clothes. “Pick silhouettes that work with your shape and your personality,” says Payal Khandwala. She says that a shirt dress, palazzos, maxi or kurta dress or a light lehenga paired with a jackets or shirt makes for an interesting departure from the norm. “Brocade is the king of textiles. It keeps the clothes lightweight yet dramatic and I highly recommend it.”
Delhi-based designer Gautam Gupta suggests hand-woven Banarsi jackets with full circle-skirts to play with tradition and modernity. “Or pair a sari with an embroidered cape for any evening occasion and you are sure to make heads turn,” he says.
This season brings with it another rule—what is natural, is cool. “People are becoming more aware of their environment and are moving towards sustainable fashion, says Gupta. “It’s no more about heavy and bling. Natural dyes, organic fabric, handlooms, hand printed materials and recycled styles are this season’s best bet.”
One last tip. Designer duo Rimple and Harpreet say that minimal makeup, with a pop of colour on the lip and an interesting piece of boho jewellery is all you need to complete your look. Here’s your handy guide to this year’s dress code.
Layering works well when you have several events in the same evening. Fashion designers Monica and Karishma of Jade say it helps to create different looks as the night wears on. Start with a gilded Banarasi handloom skirt with a solid-coloured top in the afternoon, then amp up the look by switching to a vibrant kedia top before you step out to dance the night away. A waistcoat or bandi jacket could add to the charm as well, says designer Kunal Tanna. “Chanderi jacquard material is comfortable and breezy for dancing in.”
Festivals are as much about style as they are about having a good time. So stand out with the a tabard, a long, sleeveless garment with a front and back but no sides. It’s a great design to add length and leanness, says designer Anita Dongre. “It will work really well when paired with a skirt or palazzos.”
An unusual style this year is the androgynous look that still looks feminine. “Go for a well-fitted deep slit-neck jacket with fitted pants or full circle skirt,” says Gautam Gupta. Lightweight flared hemlines, fringes and tassels will soften any hard edges and add a bit of fun.
Of course it’s bling season. But you don’t want to look like a chandelier on all nine nights. Gupta’s mantra for shaking things up is to go minimalist. “Do not mix colours, keep your ensemble monochrome or dual toned. Even the embroidery work this year is monotone,” he adds. Men can give the regular sherwanis a twist by pairing it with ankle-length pants with geometric prints in offbeat colours.
Until last year, we all thought the kurta-pallazo combination would look so 1960s. And then all of a sudden the look was a hit. The key to festive fashion this year is fusion. Sari gowns with stylish cape tops. Saris paired with floor length jackets for the night. For a day look, consider georgette anarkali jackets with cigarette pants or solid coloured tops with brocade pants. Or just pair a draped, off-shoulder shift dress with dhoti pants.
Saris with a twist
If every Durga Puja pandal looks like a sari exhibition because of the well-draped crowd, take advantage. Experiments with the six-yards has always managed to get attention. Gupta says, “Pair your saris with embellished jackets, crop tops, or off-shoulder blouses.” You might also want to try dhoti sarees teamed with anti fit blouses or crop tops.
Balance is the key to making any look work. And remember, if you’re going to be on your feet all day, working, visiting friends, pandal-hopping and dancing till dawn, let your shoes be as comfortable as the rest of your clothes. Juttis will never go out of fashion, and a little bling won’t do you any harm. Try quirking up the juttis with cute bead embellishments shaped as robots , moustache and television sets. Boys can choose to give the kolhapuris a miss and try sequinned shoes instead to take their plain kurta-pyjama look a few notches higher.