Must haves in an Indian Woman’s wardrobe

Must haves in an Indian Woman's wardrobe

Now, I am no fashion designer, personal stylist or even a self proclaimed fashionista. I am just a regular Indian woman who likes dressing up. My wardrobe is a mix of functional and elaborate, basic and pretty. Over the years, my tastes have evolved. I have also learnt how important it is for clothes to have repeat wear value. I now have a list of staples or investment pieces in my wardrobe. These are the workhorses. The rest, that we nowadays call fast fashion, come and go. So here is my list of Must haves in an Indian Woman’s wardrobe.

Indian Wear

  1. Handloom Saree: Whether you are a teenager or a grandmother, a handloom saree is a must have in your wardrobe. You could choose from a variety of fabrics to suit your pockets and more importantly, your taste. A classic piece can be dressed up or down. It would be appropriate for official meetings as well as festivals. We know that, whatever be the event in India, a saree is always acceptable! I am just getting initiated into the world of handloom and have a new found love for cotton Ikats from Odisha.
  2. Cotton Kurta: Picture a crisp white, cream or pastel chikankaari kurta that you could team up with salwaars, leggings or even jeans. I am partial to Chikankari but a cotton kurta can be made up in any fashion really. It can be a sturdy khaadi cotton, an elegant cotton silk, a handloom weave. It could be plain or printed – think florals, stripes or even kalamkari. You can choose any embroidery from Kashmiri to Kantha to phulkari. While each fabric and style will cater to a different occasion, something simple and elegant will be most versatile – hence my pick of white chikankari. As for versatility, it can be paired with a variety of bottoms and dupattas. You’d never have to style it the same way twice.
  3. Silk dupatta: A nice silk dupatta can be paired with a plain Kurti and immediately raise the level of the outfit by a few notches. My own collection has tussar silk, sambalpuri silk, silk bandhani, phulkari, chanderi and a few printed art silk ones. They are easiest to pair with plain kurtas because that brings out the elegance in the best manner. I have however, also paired them with subtle self printed kurtis with great results. I mostly use them to dress up the outfit. Often, when I have needed to go to an event after work, I wear the plain kurti the whole day. Out comes the dupatta, nicer shoes and fresh makeup in the evening and am ready for the evening.
  4. Black and Gold saree blouse: Whether you wear sarees frequently or not, having basic blouses like black and gold come in handy because they can be paired with many sarees. So, if you get a new one, you won’t have an endless wait till the tailor to come back with the custom blouse.
  5. Salwar Kameez: There is no denying that salwar kameez is a much more comfortable outfit and much easier to carry too. Personally, I like the classic silhouette of a straight, mid-length kameez paired with a chudidaar bottom. But with the anarkalis, the gowns and the layered kameezes, cigarette pants, patiala salwars and palazzos you have the market full of shapes and silhouetts to choose from.
Must haves in an Indian Woman's wardrobe
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Western Wear

  1. Trouser jeans: Trouser jeans are a personal favourite . Although I have been favouring this silhouette over the others for ages, I discovered the correct name for this int only a few years back. Like the classic saree, this garment can be dressed up or down. It can eventually become the most used garment you own. Using accessories and shoes alone, it is possible to take the trouser jean from one avatar to another. I specifically call out trouser jeans because of their versatility. Others like skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, flared, boot-cut or even distressed ones are meant for specific looks and won’t work in every situation. A trouser jeans though can be combined with a fancy blouse and blazer for a semi-official event or teamed up with a plain tee and sneakers for a casual picnic.
  2. Mid length skirt: I find mid length skirts to be most versatile and flattering on all body shapes. A plain skirt can be paired with a variety of tops to suit many occasions. If you pair it with a tee, it is casual; with a short Kurti and dupatta, it gets  with an ethnic twist. If you add a crisp blouse, it becomes formal or semi formal. Skirts are a blessing in the hot humid Indian weather and a must have for summers.
  3. Classic button down: I had initially listed classic white button down but that seemed too cliche and me, I try not to do cliche. But yes, Indian or not, a classic button down is a must have in any woman’s wardrobe. With a trouser or pencil skirt, it is uber formal. With jeans, it is business casual, with an ethnic skirt and statement necklace it is boho chic and underneath a saree, it is the ultimate fusion combo. What’s not to love?
  4. Shrugs and jackets: If you guys have been fans of What Not To Wear, then you know about completer pieces. Shrugs and jackets are my completer pieces. For the Indian weather, I prefer lighter fabrics and the more flowy shrugs. However, I can not resist the charm of a structured jacket. It ups the ante on the outfit immediately, smartening up even a simple jeans and tee.

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  1. Ethnic accessories: The options here are limitless. You can pick jhumka, chandbaali, danglers or studs or traditional necklaces with large beads and statement pendants. For footwear, you have the option of kolhapuri chappal, mojri or an embroidered mirror and pompom decorated ethnic sandal. If you are a bag lover, potli bags are easily available. My personal favourites are oxidised jhumkas and kolhapuri chappals though I am often found pairing traditional necklaces with western tunics and dresses. A dozen or so colourful bangles that would go with many different outfits and a pair or two of kadas would spruce up any ethnic outfit.
  2. Sunglasses: They don’t just protect your eyes, they add oomph to the outfits. My favourites are large bug eye or aviator style glasses. While I like to experiment with the reflectors and bling, I most often reach for my white bug eye and brown aviators.

So this was my list people. What do you think about it? What according to you are the must haves in an Indian Woman’s wardrobe? Do share…

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41 thoughts on “Must haves in an Indian Woman’s wardrobe”

  1. That’s a very well balanced dress ideas for Indian wardrobe. I too can’t imagine without silk saree and Cotton kurta

  2. Really like your blog… you have covered some really good topics. Visited to read just one post but then you have so many good posts… great work!

    It’s a nice list 🙂

  3. I’m not much into skirts and would replace it with comfortable leggings rest all are perfect for must haves in a wardrobe especially saree, cotton kurta and a black, golden blouse works best on anything or any occasion. Well written post.
    #MyFriendAlexa #vigorousreads

  4. You Know what, I am patting on my back right now! As all these quintessential wardrobe essentials are very much present in there. Silk stole/ dupatta and cotton/Khadi kurta is my all time favorite fashion needs.
    #MyFriendAlexa #gleefulreads

  5. A good list, Ankita! However, I don’t have a handloom saree and it has been on my mind for quite sometime, especially when I see people posting pics in their sarees. Can you suggest a good place to buy them from?

    1. Hey Anshu, I got my first from Nalli. They have quite a variety catering to different tastes and budgets. I have also realised that the collection in Mumbai versus the collection in Delhi is generally quite different. Off late, I picked up a few Ikat handlooms from Odisha. The government store is Boyanika. They have an online presence too. Another option for Odisha handloom is Utkalamrita. It is run by two sisters, one of whom happens to be a blogger. Also, if you are looking for Tamil Nadu cotton, then CoOpTex stores are a good option. My mom used to pick from there. Hope these are helpful starting points 🙂

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know your thoughts :)