How I Styled 1 Anarkali in 3 Different Ways this Wedding Season

Indian wear is expensive. Or should I be saying, my tastes are expensive? Either way, most anarkalis I love don’t start below Rs.15,000 (at minimum!) and just a set of unstitched suit fabric in raw silk costs Rs.8,000. Of course, I still go on a manic hunt every time to find something more reasonable, but the fact no one can deny is – ethnic clothes cost a helluva lot these days! Which is why, when you have bought something, you want to get all the use out of it you possibly can.

I have one anarkali in my wardrobe that I love so much, I wore it to 4 different wedding events last winter. But when you’re wearing the same outfit over and over again, you want to style it differently each time, however slightly, so that it doesn’t look the exact same over and over again. While I’m no stylist, and this is not ground-breaking research, it was fun to play around with small aspects such as draping the dupatta differently or accessorising it with a contrasting clutch. I hope you find some inspiration from these looks!

First, How The Anarkali Came To Be

I loved a lot of the wedding presents my husband and I received, but one of my favourites was a turquoise blue anarkali bought from the popular Heritage store in South Ex. I remember opening the familiar red rectangular box and feeling the glee spread across my face – it was unstitched georgette fabric in my favourite shade of blue, with an unusual combination of delicate floral threadwork and silver gota patti embroidered on it.

Considering how exquisite the piece was, I didn’t want to go to a run-of-the-mill tailor to have it stitched. I had heard from a bride that she got all her trousseau pieces stitched at Heritage itself, and so it was decided – we were going back to Heritage to have the anarkali made. When I enquired at the store, the masterji gave me bad news. “The kalis on this anarkali are pre-stitched, and so we won’t be able to give it the fitted shape you’re looking for. It will have to be an A-line anarkali, and even then, it might end up looking loose on you.” Disheartened, I wondered if I should give away the anarkali to someone bigger in size than me, because if there was one thing this outfit deserved, it was to be worn!

A couple of days later, I had recuperated from the setback. I had a plan.

I dialled Mansi’s number.

Mansi Gupta is my favourite boutique Delhi designer, and if it’s custom-made you’re looking for, she’s the one to go to. I’ve trusted her to take my most-loved fabrics and convert them into outfits I will wear (although, she is a designer and will rarely take on the task of just stitching a piece of fabric you give her). At her Le Meridian store, Regalya, Mansi had a look at the turquoise blue fabric and immediately gauged that she was about to fight an uphill battle. As if I hadn’t done enough to make it hard for her, I added another request. “Mansi”, I said, “this is heavier than what I typically wear, so can we also remove the original yoke and replace it with a tufted piece of plain fabric in the same colour?” I’m sure she wanted to punch me in the face then, but she stuck to her professional demeanour and remained poker faced. She let out a strained, “Yes, we can do it” and I made a run for the exit, afraid she would change her mind if I hung around even a minute longer.

As expected, Mansi turned it into a piece I loved – an empire-waist anarkali with a tufted plain yoke, and enough space inside to wear a thermal underneath for Delhi’s winter weddings (shhh…that’s our little secret).

Now that my anarkali was ready to wear, what would I wear it with? My mother, as all mothers do, suggested pairing the almost floor-length anarkali with a pair of high heels. Ummm…NO. I don’t do high heels.

I know! I’m going to wear it with juttis!

“Really?” my mother wondered out loud.

Yes mom, if Deepika and Katrina can do it, so can I.

So off I went, to my trusted South Ex market once again, to buy a pair of juttis in the same shade of silver as the gota patti on my anarkali.

Now, How I Styled it in 3 Different Ways

Look #1: With Pinned Dupatta, Open Hair & A Pink Envelope Bag

I first wore the anarkali to a distant cousin’s Sangeet here in Delhi. I folded and draped my dupatta onto one shoulder, and pinned it all into place. I put on a pair of vintage silver earrings (from South Ex), and left my hair open. A month later, a close friend of mine was getting married in Delhi, and I repeated the exact same look, with the addition of this pretty pink envelope clutch by ARTiara. Since it was an outdoor venue in the middle of January, I wore a thermal underneath and carried a baby pink shawl to layer with the dupatta to keep warm (I’ll be Periscoping about this in more detail later this week!)

Look #2: With Pinned Dupatta, Open Hair & Kundan Jewellery

4 Open hairstyle and folded pinned up dupatta with maang tikka | How to style an anarkali in 3 different ways

A few weeks later, one of my childhood friends was getting married in Jaipur, and the relatively heavier anarkali seemed appropriate to wear to her Sangeet. But having already repeated the exact same look twice, I wanted to add something new to it. I took out my wedding day jewellery, and decided on pairing the kundan earrings (not visible in the picture) with the maang tikka. I had seen guests becoming more comfortable with using hair accessories at weddings recently, and it made me want to try out the maang tikka.

Look #3: With Braided Hairstyle, Open Dupatta & Silver Earrings

Shortly after the Jaipur trip, there was yet another Delhi wedding to attend. My husband’s second cousin was getting hitched at the Vasant Continental hotel, and I wanted to wear my favourite anarkali of the season again! I put on the same silver earrings (from Look #1), but made a messy braid to fall over one shoulder. On the other shoulder, I draped my dupatta but left it open for a more relaxed look.

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1 Anarkali Styled 3 different ways to wear to weddings

Which was your favourite look? And how have you styled your ethnic wear differently in order to re-use it?

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