Sorry not Sari

When it comes to traditional Indian outfits, look outside of the sari! With so many different regions and cultures in India, there are a panoply of designs, details, and color combinations that provide awesome visual appeal. This outfit, a Patiala style suit, from noted Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee caught my eye because of the vibrant pink bottoms (salwar) with refined detailing on the form-fitting top (kameez). The muted tan scarf (dupatta) blends the two to make a chic outfit perfect for a wedding, festival, or even cocktail party.

Patiala, a district in the festive Punjab region, is famous for its stately extravagance. Perhaps the best of example of this is the Patiala Peg, a measure of liquor that dates back to the Maharajas, where a generous 4oz. pour of whiskey became the standard serving size. Once the whiskey flows, it keeps going! It's no surprise then, that Patiala salwar flow so nicely, making them so comfortable to move in.  The pink color makes a statement, but is not a dizzying blend of colors that can sometimes make Indian clothes visually confusing. The kameez, a luxurious black velvet quarter-sleeve with golden embroidery is stately and elegant. What's more, the embroidery was heavy enough to not have to worry about accessories, but not too heavy to be busy. All I had to do was throw on some bangles for a complete look.

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A note here about velvet. It makes for great fabric designs, it feels great to the touch, it stays in place for a great silouhette, it retains its look for a long time, and it's not as hot as you might think. Make sure to look for good quality velvet (without cracked, faded or flattened spots) with a good quality lining underneath (try for more than 75% cotton). 

A note here also about cost. Indian outfits offer a wide variety of materials, designs, and embellishments; so pricing can span many different price points. For me, shopping on a budget means prioritizing materials and cuts more than embellishments. This outfit has held up for so many years (and has luckily stayed fashionable), being worn to so many different parties and get-togethers. By picking an outfit that had relatively lighter embroidery and work, shopping at a designer boutique worked for my budget. And thankfully, the material and design have continued to look fresh throughout the years.

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Some general tips:

  • Sometimes Indian outfits dazzle the eye with an array of colors, but an outfit that offers a solid pop of color can be just as dazzling.

  • Patiala suits are a comfortable and fun traditional Indian dress style gaining in popularity because they are perfect for all sorts of gatherings.

  • While silk and other more delicate fabrics are staples of traditional Indian clothes, don't automatically look past velvet. It's elegant, feels great, and looks great for a long time.

  • Embroidery and embellishments can add cost without necessarily adding design value. Prioritize quality materials, cuts and design elements that will make your outfit last longer.

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