Wondering what exactly makes Indo-western fashion different from Indian AND western? Here are 21 Indo-western fusion elements that every fashionista needs to try!
The 2010s decade saw the Indian fashion culture evolve more than any other decade, arguably. That’s because every previous decade played with either newer styles within Indian wear, or to introduce western wear to the Indian market. Whereas in the last decade, the Indian fashion itself turned towards Indo-western fashion elements to add an edgy statement to every look. And that’s what we’ll be seeing and wearing in 2020s.
21 Indo-Western Fashion Elements
From Tarun Tahliani to Rohit Bal to Manish Malhotra, all the top Indian fashion designers have been incorporating an element or two into nearly every look in every collection. Sheer backs in gowns, cold-shoulder cholis, and bridal lehengas with belts, this decade saw it all. In fact, the Indo western fashion elements have become so common nowadays that the lines between Indian fashion and Indo-western have totally started blurring out.
But what exactly are these so-called Indo-western fusion elements that give a garment the tag of “Indo-western”? Here, we bring to light every little one, creating a cohesive guide of all 21 Indo-western fashion elements that we’ve been seeing in designer collections and celeb looks. These are the styles every Indian girl needs to try to further her fashion momentum.
1. Flounce sleeves
Flounce sleeves are the types of sleeves that have a frill, a circular fabric or any other type of style added to them, which makes them flared out at the end. Flouncy sleeves add flare to your basic sleeve to add drama to your look. They’re bigger than bell sleeves.
This style has earned its place as a staple in every desi fashionista’s wardrobe. Add them to saree blouses, lehengas cholis and anarkali suits to kurtas – the options are endless. And they make a very versatile option to incorporate an Indo-western fashion twist to your ensemble.
A deeper foot into Indo-western fashion from the flounce is the ruffle trend. The ruffle saree has been making quite the rounds on Instagram lately with celebs donning the look for various events. With the larger the better attitude, ruffles were seen in layered lehengas, layered pants or sleeves for a more pronounced expression. Or just add hints of ruffles at the hemline to add a subtle touch.
Inspired by the 70s boho culture, fringes have re-entered the western fashion scene lately, seen in gowns, jackets, shoes and what not. And now, Indian designers are following suit, with fringed lehengas, cholis, sleeves and all. After Kareena Kapoor donned this look in Veere the Wedding, this element caught the flame even more. It’s a great way to bring some dynamism into your outfit, and make a huge statement without even showing any skin! I personally love all the ways this element looks and cannot choose just one. From casual wear to occasion wear and even party wear, there are ways to don the fringes for every occasion.
Jackets as an outerwear teamed with any ethnic piece gives an unexpected chic look. Throw any jacket over a desi outfit to try this look for yourself. My fave has to be the jacket saree, which give the timeless saree a complete new makeover. Choose the length of the jacket to compliment your body type.
Robes are like long overcoats, but in a lighter fabric like satin, silk or velvet, tied with a belt in the front. Collections of designers like Rohit Bal and Anamika Khanna incorporated belt-less robes paired over sarees or anarkalis that extend to the floor. Robes add a very rich look, making any outfit more modest, fit for all age-groups.
High-low has been in the fashion scene for longer than any others. This doesn’t come across as much of a statement but surely adds a design element to your simple outfits. It’s just the right pick as a guest for a wedding. Either go for a high-low kurta with a skirt, or a high-low choli with lehenga that looks stylish.
Take a sexy western style and include it in Indian garments to make waves in the fashion circle. Lehenga blouses, gowns, saree blouses and tops, off the shoulder is ruling the Indian runway fashion. Adding a glamorous yet fun element to been-there-done-that ethnic looks. From cocktail parties to pompous sangeet nights, off-shoulder style is surely a crowd-pleaser.
Appliqué is a surface technique that originated in the west and made its way over to the east within the 2010s. In appliqué, decorative flowers or other pieces of fabric are cut and sewn onto a garment, creating sort of a 3D pattern. Appliqué looks so chic on lehengas, choli sleeves, saree pallus or depattas. Great way to make a statement at any special occasion.
The holy matrimony of sexy and sassy has got to be the strapless Indo-western fashion look. Break free from the standard sexy back and slide into strapless. Approved and sported by celebs Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor and Shilpa Shetty this uber hot look is the next thing to try and is here to stay in the fashion scene.
India has no dearth of sheer and semi-sheer fabrics. Indian dresses have seen sheer panels, dupattas and sleeves for years. Recently, designers used sheer fabrics like tulle and georgette in fresher ways like embellished bridal veils, necklines or backs. Personally, I like embroidered sheer backs in cholis or saree blouses that pack such a sexy surprise for any Indian outfit. Also, sheer dupattas, blouse sleeves and jaali sarees are still in!
Giving fashion and Indo-western fashion styles a totally fresh approach, designers like Gaurav Gupta, Falguni Shane Peacock and mostly, Manish Malhotra, ruled the fashion scene by including feathers into garments. Step into the statement-making look with hints of feathers in your look such as sleeve hems, saree pallu and dupatta hems. Or go all out with feathers and sequin.
12. Floor-Touching Sleeves
Giving an OTT outlook and replacing the dupatta, floor touching sleeves are a fool-proof way to rock Indo-western fashion. Choose either plain ones or a embellished exaggerated sleeve to suit your occasion portraying a visually spectacular sight. Add them to lehenga cholis, anarkali suits or gowns.
Anything to replace the forever loved dupatta that we Indians never miss is making it to the limelight these days. Capes are an easy way to amp up any simple outfit. Throw on a beautifully embroidered cape over a simple suit or gown or saree to take it several notches higher on the chic scale. This has got to be the simplest pick for a Diwali outfit or any such festivity. Add a cape to a saree, lehenga or gown.
Asymmetric structured garments are having a moment this season. Offsetting an uber & effortless style, only a few can carry this look with panache. While designers like Jayanti Reddy and Payal Khandwala are playing with a Indie-chic vibe with ponchos teamed with wrap skirts and dhoti pants, others are playing it safe to catch the crowd masses. Go for a net poncho over your lehenga to replace the dupatta or wear it over a strapless gown.
Belts are the quintessential wardrobe item that originated in the western world. And now they’re everywhere in the Indian fashion landscape. Kickstarting the trend, Sabyasachi used it in bridal lehengas and sarees. This has been a revolutionary move for keeping your pleats in place. Cinch your waist over a lehenga dupatta, saree pallu or even with a salwaar suit. It’s totally your comfort calling with a dash of this trend.
16. Illusion Neckline
Wishing for our Indian clothes to have the dreamy look of western bridal gowns is what most of us dream for. Introducing the illusion neckline that has satiated our wish. A gorgeous dress in all its glory with a scintillating neckline and a sparkle of diamond is what you need for your next function. Opt for an embellished illusion neckline to complete the shimmery look. Also, its a easy way to skip the heavy jewelry and opt for simpler pieces.
Ah, the utility pieces of garment taken from the 20th century have been revived to create sexy Indo-western fashion clothes. Bustiers with under-wiring and padding are becoming so common for saree and lehenga blouses. You can also try cholis with built-in bras and blouses with bustier-inspired boning. Bustiers are a bold choice of clothing, and they’ll work well for fashion shows and such glam events. They’ll also be good to pair with a lehenga for someone with an unconventional style choice.
Peplum tops are those that flare out at the waist, usually with a belted silhouette. The peplum cholis with an extra flare really make the waist seem cinched-in, and work well for women with rectangle body types. Pair a peplum choli with lehenga to create a modest yet stylish lancha. Good idea for a family function or your cousin’s wedding.
19. Cold Shoulder
Cholis, suits and saree blouses with shoulder cut-outs are western-inspired with just a hint of skin showing. This style was seen in the western runway collections in 2016-17. And it has become a go-to Indo-western fashion element for many women across the country in the last couple of years. I’m personally not a fan, since a lot of designs I’ve seen in this don’t look classy. And i feel it doesn’t work well unless the sleeve is well-fitted. So if you want this look, go for something like the Shyamal & Bhumika one above.
While neck-bows date back to the 18th century in the western world, Coco Chanel really popularized them again in the 1920s. Recently, western designers have been using large and extravagant bows on not just necks, but shoulders, waistlines and more. And we’re seeing them here in on the cholis too. I’m personally loving this new trend – it looks super unique and chic. Perfect idea for your engagement or your brother’s wedding.
Overskirt is a skirt or piece of fabric that is draped around or on the sides of a skirt, often detachable. Western wedding gowns usually use an overskirt to create a long train over a shorter skirt. Designers like Gaurav Gupta have been creatively bringing this beautiful style to Indian wear with overskirts on gowns and lehengas. Great idea for a bridal or engagement lehenga.
Shazia Bargathullah is a regular freelance writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. She is also a fashion design graduate from iNIFD. Her journey started with a keen visual eye, an interest in styling and a passion for design. She has an expertise in modest fashion and writes about makeup tips, beauty trends and runway-inspired fashion ideas. She is also the author of the blog Devil Wears Parda. For comments and feedback, please email [email protected]