If you’re new to the wonderful world of South Asian fashion, we can help you get up to speed with the popular styles of the region.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular styles:
A lehenga (there are various spellings and even other ways of describing this outfit, depending on where you are from) consists of a separate skirt, a blouse (sometimes called a choli) and a scarf called the dupatta.
Nowadays, a crop top with a skirt is a common form of the lehenga, but the tops can be longer as well.
The dupatta can cover the midriff, depending on how one wants to wear it.
The skirts can be in a variety of styles, including A-line, straight cut, umbrella, mermaid and anything in between.
An anarkali includes a long dress or gown, as well as a dupatta. Sometimes it includes pants underneath, but not always.
A dupatta is similar to a shawl or scarf. It accompanies most traditional South Asian outfits, including lehengas and anarkalis. It can be worn in a variety of ways and often accents an outfit in interesting ways.
For a long time, these shawl-like scarves signified a mark of modesty. They tended to be draped across both shoulders and around the head. They still carry that meaning for some people, but over time they have been used for everything from political to fashion statements. Today, some people choose not to wear dupattas to events or they will take it off after wearing it at the beginning. You can really choose whether or not you’d like to use them or not.
Dhotis are a pant-like garment that wraps around the waist and legs and knotted at the waist. This is a style that can also be worn by men!
Palazzo pants are long trousers that have a loose, wide-leg fit. These pants are typically worn for an effortless, relaxed style, especially on harsh summer days.
Salwars are an outfit that includes salwar trousers, a kameez tunic and a dupatta scarf. The salwar trousers are made for a long, loose-fitting look with cuffs above the ankle. The kameez tunic is usually sleeveless and tends to be more tight-fighting.
Want a little more information? Check out this video we made with Rent the Runway on styling South Asian fashion.
One of our favorite Indian embroideries is chikankari, which is also called shadow work because it's traditionally been a white-on-white embroidery originally done on fine cotton cloth. This embroidery was made for royalty. Many accounts say Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, introduced Chikan, which was originally a Persian art, to India in the 17th century.