It was some time ago that I first fell in love with the dhoti silhouette. Slightly oversized and breezy, this street-style trend spells ease and effortless chic. And in the last few Indian fashion week seasons I was happy to see that the spotlight was back on the humble garment. The Indian drape stepped up to a completely new level of fusion: think voluminous pant silhouettes in breezy fabrics teamed with Italian cut tuxedos and elaborate dhoti dresses with rich stiffened pleats.

The traditional Indian dhoti silhouette is making heads turn at cocktail evenings and runway soirées: Slip into voluminous, breezy and comfortable dhoti jumpsuits, gowns, saris & more.

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Once reserved for traditional functions and temple visits, the dhoti is now trending at cocktail evenings and runway soirées. On the ramp we’ve recently seen some stunning, sensual versions – from minimal jumpsuits to light, breezy saris and elegant gowns – created by designers like Tarun Tahilani, Wendell Rodricks, Lalit Sengar, Krishna Mehta, Anamika Khanna, and Payal Pratap Singh. The modern trouser’s often being donned for social events and casual nights out by fashion-forward actors Priyanka Chopra, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonam Kapoor, Prateik Babbar and Purab Kohli.

At London Fashion Week Summer/Resort wear 2014 , Tarun Tahilani’s dhoti saris were a huge hit. His amalgamation of the classic sari and the ubiquitous dhoti makes it ideal for women who seek comfort while retaining a sense of panache. If you’ve ever seen a Maharashtrian woman in a fish or vegetable market, you’ll notice a close resemblance between the dhoti sari and the ‘Navvaari’: 8 to 9 metres long and draped like a dhoti but said to allow greater freedom of movement. Designer Lalit Sengar wowed us with his men’s collection of deconstructed floral print jackets paired with dhoti pants.

“I think that dhoti pants (or my take on the classic design) are perfect for summer, plus I love the dropped crotch look with a big belt and a funky t-shirt. The look is quirky, stylish and super comfortable. I make a number of variations of these types of pants in jersey and cotton and I’ll soon be making a pair in butter crepe that’ll have more of an evening style. I completely love the look in all its forms,” says designer Judith Hobby whose latest collection boasts dhoti pants. Even designer Ujjawal Dubey’s collection ‘No Longer the Hunted’ had some elegant dhotis in a sombre palette. The form has also influenced several other contemporary silhouettes such as Afghani pants, patialas, harems and jodhpurs. Although they look more or less the same, it’s the construction of the garment and the placing of the pleats that differentiates them.

Kolkata based designer Debarun Mukherjee says the dhoti is forever in fashion in his city. “It should be made of fabrics that have a good flow and must be tailored to fall well. Team it up with the right kurta, which ends about four inches above the knee and you’ve got a noteworthy look,” he adds. The dhoti pant gives women a chance to experiment with their look adding a unique ethnic edge to any ensemble. Pair up ankle-length dhoti pants with an oversized blouse, basic tee, tunic or tank top and add glamour with a statement neckpiece, jhumkas or belt. Finish the look with chunky bangles, satchel and mojris or gladiators: casual but très chic.New Delhi-based photographer Anshika Verma loves her Afghani pants with printed textiles. She often pairs them up with regular tees, kurtas, spaghetti tops, tube tops and even leotards. “They are super comfortable and look fantastic. I like Indian prints like ikkat and have a couple of aztec print pants that I simply adore. I prefer buying fabrics and getting them made. With my penchant for experimenting with style, I once wore an Afghani pant as a jumpsuit and got a lot of compliments for it too,” she smiles.

For an evening out, designer Anaikka’s red metal jewel dhoti pants, Anamika Khanna’s cocktail dhoti (seen on actress Sonam Kapoor) or Anita Dongre’s hot pink bandhani dhoti gown with bandi jacket would all make for refined choices. Designer Lalit Sengar believes that, as an Indian, working with the silhouette is instinctive because it complements all kinds of body types. Masaba Gupta’s tulip-shaped dhoti pants for instance: they’re spot-on for pear shapes as they grip the frame well and don’t add excess volume to the lower body.

Even men should sometimes ditch the ubiquitous shirt and pants and give the dhoti a try. Designer Shantanu Nikhil’s bandhgala with dhoti pants is now a wedding ensemble staple. “The dhoti looks very graceful and works great with knee length tops like kurtas and long shirts,” says Sengar. For a more urbane look, pair it with a deconstructed jacket, a shirt and a blazer.

Thinking about it, an anarkali jacket worn over nude dhoti pants or zesty orange dhoti pants teamed with a short embroidered blouse might be just what you need for your next luxe beach holiday.

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