India has been changing. Rapidly. I was here about two years ago and already during this visit I’ve come across a huge metamorphosis. Of the many things I’ll focus on one for now. Fashion. I don’t really get to use many Indian clothes in the U.S but every time I am here the fashion has changed and I find myself comically out of place at social events when I don older outfits. I must be living in a cocoon which is not entirely false. So, maybe I’ve just never noticed these things till now. I will tread carefully here since I am no fashionista. This is a list of things that I’ve observed over the past decade with respect to the fashion scene in India and more specifically in Hyderabad.
Everywhere it’s leggings now. Not that I’m complaining. The skinny chudidaar was always a pain to get on and take off. This trend isn’t a complete surprise to me and it goes with everything from casual to formal wear. It’s been a few years now since this caught on and these are so much more comfortable and come in a myriad different colors. In the U.S, excepting teens and the more adventurous lot, we usually stick to neutrals or sober colors. However, here in India, everyone big and old wear a variety of shades, mix and match and they look and feel wonderful.
2. Pant Styles:
- Harem – I’ve heard of Harem pants before though I’ve never worn them. When I first saw them I was a bit befuddled. I couldn’t quite understand where it started and where it ended.
‘Ah, It’s a skirt?’ I asked, perplexed.
‘No m’am. Those are pants’ said the salesman patiently till I finally figured it out.
I think it takes a bit of smart coordinating and confidence to truly carry it off. I’m not quite ready for these yet.
- Patiala – These are also called dhoti pants and I’ve worn them when I was younger. They’re incredibly comfortable and I’m glad they’ve made a comeback.
- Pallazzo – This was a complete surprise to me. I did a double take when the salesman asked if I wanted to see some Pallazo pants. It made me think of Caesar’s palace in Las Vegas. They’re basically retro style pants which again needs a keen eye for fashion to really pull off.
3. The ever-changing length of the Kurti
A few years ago short kurtis were all the rage and now they have long kurtis and something called ‘Anarkalis’ that extend all the way to the ankles. I don’t understand the purpose of leggings at that point since you can barely see them. ‘Anarkalis’ when I was younger used to be something that had tons of pleats so the dress/kurti had a big flare, perfect for twirling, which is the same style even now but much longer. They’re incredibly flattering and have some history dating back to the mughal era.
4. Dazzle Dazzle Bling Bling
About a decade ago things started getting very flashy. Everything had mirrors, glitter and seemed incredibly loud. You couldn’t step into a women’s clothing store without getting a serious case of vertigo. This was especially prevalent some five years ago I think and though it is still around we can thankfully now also get clothes that are subdued and elegant.
5. Big bucks for blouses
Okay, first, I do love one thing about the blouse craze. You don’t need a brassiere anymore as they stitch the cups in. This allows for a whole new level of freedom with cuts, styles and might I add degrees of exposure. But, all of this comes with a heavy price tag. Go to a designer and they charge you an arm and a leg or quite possibly more. And that brings me to the next topic.
The city is teeming with them. You’ll find their beautifully decorated stores in quaint bungalows in rich residential areas. Some 15 years ago I bought a Sabyasachi Salwar at an expensive boutique. I didn’t tell my mother how much it really cost but lets just say I shamelessly buckled under sales pressure. He wasn’t that known so the sum was paltry even at the time, considering. And now when I went to the new Sabyasachi store I couldn’t get past the sticker shock. It’s quite like stepping into avant grade fashion stores in New York or Paris.
Indians love their gold. And now their diamonds. I’ve seen big gigantic earrings, bigger stones and necklaces that cover most of the bosom. There are exquisite pieces with a lot of the inspiration taken from the yesteryears. It feels like the market has really flourished over the past decade what with so many jewelry stores sprouting all over the city. The designs are fantastic and there’s choices galore. I’ve indulged in some window shopping but this is most certainly not for the faint of heart.
8. A hole in my pocket
No, that’s not a new fashion trend, it’s the state of affairs for me when I visit here. See, I went for this party and I wore a beautiful cream colored Ritu Kumar which I owned and considered a classic. And yet, the cut, style etc was very out of place among the sea of long anarkalis. Since I’m staying here a bit longer and have a few other occasions to grace my mother has been asking me to get with the times. I am reluctantly considering it. Reluctant because I feel like I’m spending on a white bridal gown each time. You only wear it once and then it sits gathering dust in your closet because India has decided to move on to something else once again. It’s apparent costs have gone up all over India but women’s fashion is a league unto its own. Sometimes it borders on to the ridiculous. We’re talking lakhs of rupees. It makes me think of the one time I stepped into a Ralph Lauren store seven years ago in New York and wondered who would buy a simple plain white T-shirt for $300. Well, India has arrived. More aptly perhaps, I maybe finally coming out of my cocoon.