East meets West – Indian Fashion Trends go Global

By on October 4, 2012

“Wow, you wore a different outfit every day? They’re all so beautiful! How did you choose what to wear? But I saw a similar skirt in Zara a few weeks ago!”

This is what I hear after showing my colleagues the pictures of the latest destination wedding I went to. Indian clothes are definitely beautiful, but not just reserved for wearing to the latest Diwali ball or your best friend’s wedding. There are many Indian fashion trends that have gone global and can be easily worked on their own or with something borrowed from your western wardrobe. Here are a few:

Ghagra choli

From a stunning Priyanka Chopra in a Ritu Kumar Ghagra Choli to a colourful Ghagra Skirt paired with a white top and black blazer.

A ghagra choli, or lehenga, is a long skirt. A brightly-coloured fabric with an embroidered top, it’s the perfect outfit for a sangeet or wedding ceremony. Worn with a plain-coloured vest top, it’s a gypsy skirt and works as a light and summery outfit for the humidity of Hong Kong. Bling not required.

Salwar trousers

Kareena Kapoor wearing a patiala salwar kameez & Ralph Lauren’s runway gold harem pants

I call these MC Hammer trousers because it is loose-fitting around the hips and thighs. They’re also called pyjama trousers. They’re normally worn with a long top, and is the casual outfit of choice for many Indians and Pakistanis going about their daily life. The bottom line is, it’s a comfortable outfit. In Hong Kong, you can get away pairing it with a jacket vest. The message to the bankers rushing around Central is clear: you can’t touch this.


(Left) Kurti paired with black leggings (Right) Kurti/Tunic slipped over your favourite bikini

There’s one main difference between a kurti and a kurta. A kurta is a long shirt worn by men, and a kurti is a long shirt worn by women. A kurti is loose and comfortable, and usually worn with leggings to balance out the swathes of fabric. In English, it’s a tunic top. Throw it on over your bikini when you’ve had enough at the beach and slip on some embellished flip flops and it’s totally trendy.

As glamorous as one looks at Diwali balls and weddings, it’s so easy to mimic the style and wear it casually. A little creativity and inspiration is all it takes. I’m thinking to implement an “east meets west” dress code in my office; maybe I’ll suggest these ideas to my colleagues first.

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Shaneli Dadlani

Shaneli is a writer and editor based in Hong Kong. She grew up here and has a penchant for tea and scones, and all things royal. Shaneli is a world news and current affairs junkie, and has experience writing for magazines and newspapers. She loves writing short stories, and one day will have a novel published. You heard it here first!

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