Ethnic ensemble for the modern day woman

Published On: October 12, 2018 11:30 AM NPT By: Anweiti Upadhyay

It’s that time of the year again when you will have many family gatherings and parties to attend, not to mention rituals and ceremonies. And Dashain and Tihar call for elaborate dressing. You will need more than a single type of outfit as wearing the same kind of sari, lehenga or kurta will get a little boring after a few days. This festive season, we urge you to experiment a little.

We had Kabita Pokharel, from Toonaz Fashion Design Institute and Mart, list out a bunch of ways you can update your ethnic wear to come up with different looks. The best thing is that you don’t have to spend a fortune in doing so. 

Play with denim and plaid

Plaid and denim are both considered casual fabrics. But they can look polished and elegant when they are used properly. Instead of using the customary fabrics, use either denim or plaid for your lehenga. Since this is not a common combination, you will have to visit a boutique to place an order for a custom made piece. While discussing the details with the designer, mention that you want the lehenga to fit you well but not be too tight so that it creates a very feminine silhouette. Opt for longer and well fitting skirt over flared or ruffled ones because flares and ruffles look frumpy when they are made out of denim or plaid. Also they will lose their shape after a single wash. A narrow and lightweight shawl in a shade that is similar to your lehenga fabric is a must with this look because, at times, this outfit might look a bit too casual for a big event.

Sport a bandana or a backpack

Let’s be honest, backpacks are always more practical and convenient than purses or handbags. But we don’t carry them when we’re trying to look dressy because we assume it will do the exact opposite. It is the same case with bandanas. Although bandanas and backpacks are usually not worn with traditional clothing, they can enhance your look – giving it a modern chic vibe when styled properly. 

Pick out a relatively smaller backpack in a dark color – preferably black, brown or dark grey to let your backpack blend into your outfit. A backpack that stands out too much, is very bright and colorful or has too many eye-catching details will look too messy. As for the bandana, pick one that complements the color of your attire. Forgo the earrings completely and let your bandana be the highlight of your facial area. Opt for light and fresh makeup and refrain from wearing accessories like a bindi or tika to further enhance the look of the bandana.

Belt it out
Sometimes, wearing saris widens out your frame in a very unflattering way. This happens especially when you are wearing new saris. One quick way to fix this would be to wrap a belt around your waist. Other than slimming down your silhouette, this trick will also make you look unconventionally modern. Make sure you use a belt that does not blend in with your sari and actually stands out a little. Pick a belt in a contrasting color to that of the sari of your choice. If you are feeling especially experimental, you can also use a silver chain, a colorful tasseled string or a studded leather belt. Wrap your belt around the slimmest part – or the dip – of your waist to emphasize your figure even more. There is nothing more glamorous and easy as this little trick to make your simple sari stand out. 

Swap the skirt for trousers

If you are not comfortable wearing skirt like bottoms, you can always don a pair trouser with your blouse. Just make sure your trousers are flared and not tight. A skintight pair of trousers should be avoided with this look at all cost. A cropped blouse with high waist trousers that end just above your ankles will lengthen your appearance. You can also pair a long blouse with flared trousers in a contrasting shade. As this look can sometimes come off as too casual, make sure you chose a fabric like silk, cashmere or velvet so that your outfit looks more dressy and festival fit. Draping a shawl over your shoulders could further polish your look but discarding that will work too.

Don a button down or a t-shirt

Swap the blouse you are planning to wear with your sari or a lehenga with either a button down or a t-shirt. This is a very easy way to upgrade a boring sari or lehenga look. It is also very versatile because you can shape your outfit into any kind of look – from classy or chic to casual or edgy. A silk or chiffon shirt will appear sophisticated and elegant when paired with a sari or a lehenga bottom in a matching shade. A t-shirt with a loose and boxy fit will appear more casual. These shirts and t-shirts can be cropped or tucked into the waistband of the bottom clothing. Wearing a long button down over a lehenga or sari (without tucking it in) can also work as long as the patterns and colors of the two pieces do not clash with each other. For a more edgy look, you can wear a leather top paired with a choker.

Mess up your hair
Gone are the days when only sleek and straight hairstyles were acceptable at formal events. These days, even messy and unkempt looking hair can pass off as stylish. Pokharel suggests that you purposely mess up your hairstyle a little if you are donning a traditional ensemble this Dashain. Her personal favorites are messy single braids. She adds that messy buns can also work with traditional outfits if you finish it off with a hair accessory (like a bandana or a hairclip). “If you are courageous enough to experiment, you can also tie a ‘lachha’ (also called ‘chulthi dhago’ or Nepali hair tassel) in a color that contrasts with your outfit in your messy braid or bun,” says Pokharel.

Bralettes, sneakers and boots

If you want to upgrade your sari or lehenga look but don’t want to spend a lot on it, you can simply wear a bralette instead of a blouse and sneakers or boots instead of sandals or heels. This is a hassle free tip that will upgrade your outfit with no effort whatsoever. Your bralette can either be black, silver or gold (since those three colors complement every other color) or match the color of your lehenga or sari. Your footwear should remain neutral (black, white, grey, tan or brown) to save your appearance from looking busy and all over the place. Remember to tie your bottom clothing a little higher in a way that the end of it hangs just above your ankle. Wear your boots (or sneakers) loud and proud.


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