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Fun, funky and glam: And you thought dhoti ain’t cool enough?

In our first ever rule-bending feature on dhoti, we give a fun and funky refresh to the humble garment

fashion and trends Updated: Jun 06, 2016 19:48 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times
Breezy and super comfy, a dhoti has all the flair to make a cool fashion statement.(PHOTO: AMAL KS/HT Photo; CONCEPT & STYLING:SHARA ASHRAF)

Dhoti is a clumsy garment. A dhoti works only for festivals or weddings. You look older than your age when you wear a dhoti. Dhoti is too rustic for a glam setting. How many times have you heard these lies and fallen for them? The truth, we learnt, is exactly the opposite. Breezy and super comfy, a dhoti has all the flair to make a cool fashion statement. In fact, a dhoti is to a man what a sari is to a woman. But sadly, the traditional garment has been deprived of the limelight that the sari enjoys, thanks to the obsession with everything western when it comes to menswear. While saris have undergone an evolution and are celebrated everywhere from the red carpet to those glam gatherings in their myriad imaginative versions, dhoti is yet to have its Cinderella moment. But recently, we were pleasantly surprised when we spotted a few fashion renegades wearing the most fun and fearless versions of dhoti. Inspired, we attempted giving a stylish refresh to dhotis. We asked three HT City journalists to venture out wearing dhoti. These men wore dhotis in the most imaginative ways! While Abhinav Verma came to work in a polka dhoti paired with a T-shirt, cape and sneakers, Akshay Kaushal wore a pop dhoti with a tuxedo to a bar and our photojournalist Waseem Gashroo went shopping in a printed dhoti and a denim shirt. Read their adventurous account here. You won’t look at dhoti the same way again.

Why follow when you can lead!

10:00 AM: When HT City’s Abhinav Verma showed up at work wearing a dhoti. Dhoti: Nida Mahmood, Sneakers: Adidas (PHOTO: AMAL KS/HT Photo)

For me, fashion is all about rebellion. And what better way to rebel than to break fashion rules. So when I was told to wear a dhoti at work, I gladly agreed. When a woman wears a sari, it is seen as the epitome of feminine expression. But when a man wears a dhoti, it gets labelled as archaic. A dhoti is the royal representation of our unique culture. And to prove this, I came to work (with my swag on) wearing a dhoti. The moment I stepped in, I got awkward stares from everyone, as if I have committed a terrible sin. From the guards sitting outside to my colleagues, people were scratching their heads, thinking that either I am shooting a music video or I have gone insane. But it didn’t matter to me as I felt a sense of freedom challenging set norms of what fashion is supposed to be. Besides, in this searing weather wearing a dhoti was super comfy! By evening, three of my team mates wanted to know where can they find similar dhotis!

Bringing the dhoti back with a bang

Dhoti: Nida Mahmood, Sneakers: Adidas (PHOTO: AMAL KS/HT Photo)

When I was first told to wear a dhoti and go shopping, I was very hesitant. As a photographer, I love capturing pictures which break the set norms of society. But to do that in front of the camera, myself was quite unusual. As I strolled along the CP lanes, shopkeepers gave a little chuckle. But for me, it was a unique experience. I was comfortable in my own skin and I didn’t care what people were thinking. I walked the streets as if I owned them. I did get a few compliments too, which made my day. By the end, I realised true fashion has least to do with aping trends. It’s always about following your heart and setting trends. I am excited that I am bringing the dhoti back with a bang.

It’s always fun to break set rules!

6:00 PM: HT City’s Akshay Kaushal decided to hit the bar in his dhoti paired with a smart blazer and bow-tie. (PHOTO: AMAL KS/HT Photo )

The idea of wearing a dhoti to a club was a tad daunting for me initially. I wore a dhoti for the very first time in my life. As I teamed it with a smart blazer, shirt and a bow tie, I felt it was a cool fashion statement to make. I realised it looked fab. When I went to the club, all eyes were on me. I did get a little intimidated initially when I saw people flashing a snarky smile, but soon I was enjoying it all because I knew I was doing something game changing. It’s always fun to break set rules. Dhoti is a part of our rich cultural heritage, but somewhere men have neglected it. We can make a dhoti look great if it is styled in the right way

‘Dhoti is not just for politicians and peasants’

One of the most well-dressed men in the country, Jawhar Sircar, CEO, Prasar Bharti, teams a his dhoti with a kurta and kantha work shawl. (PHOTO : MANOJ VERMA/HT Photo)

Most men think that it’s tricky to drape a dhoti and it looks clumsy. The fact is that it is very easy to wear. Men gladly wore dhoti teamed with a practical shirt till the 60s. But sadly, dhoti is either associated with peasants or politicians now. This mental association is completely destroying it. Lightweight and breezy, a dhoti is the most comfortable attire for a man to wear. Remember, people went to battles wearing dhotis? It will be great if we go back to wearing dhoti. It’s a very eco friendly garment, and it’s very Indian. Every nation wears its own clothing. The Japanese and Chinese can afford to ape the westerners because they are at a higher altitude, but we can’t do that.The western pantsuit or denims is not at all conducive to the Indian weather. Apart from making a style statement, wearing dhotis will also immensely help weavers who put in such hard labour.

Can dhoti make a cool fashion statement?

Delhi men rock the dhoti trend on the streets

We spotted these fashion renegades wearing dhoti s on the streets. (Amal KS/HT Photo ; Waseem Gashroo/HT Photo; Amal KS/HT Photo )

Left: Ishaan Singhal, 22, a PR professional, totally pulls off a dual-tone T-shirt over a pop dhoti from 1469, Janpath.

Center: Nitish Arora,23, a fashion blogger, turned heads in a dhoti teamed with a tuxedo and bow-tie at a fashion week in the city.

Right: Jatin Bhardwaj, 23, a flight attendant, shows how to make a printed dhoti work with denim shirt. His backpack and boots smarten up the look .

Designer Speak:

Dhoti is the most stylish yet super comfy garment for men. It’s time men took some inspiration from sari-clad women. Anju modi, Designer

A dhoti works for weddings as well as casual outings. Experiment with its drapes to make it more fun.
Tarun Tahiliani, Designer

Styling and Concept: Shara Ashraf & Akshay Kaushal

First Published: Jun 06, 2016 19:47 IST