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“You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes” – Vivienne Westwood.
Spring is here… well for most of us anyway! I know my fellow Delhiites, it’s still a bit nippy and I know we don’t want to pack up winter wear and send them away for hibernation just yet. But, the days are getting warmer and I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to spring. The stores are already brimming with spring/summer wear and I’ve already picked up a few as I couldn’t resist the temptation.
Amidst the flimsy tops, breezy skirts, flowy dresses and sheer breathable fabrics, the versatile kurti-leggings is one set of clothing that never seems to go out of style and I’m not just talking about here in India. Women abroad are seen wearing this comfortable casual wear as well. They’re a superb option to the usual salwars suits where you have to match and often wear a dupatta. Depending on the style of the kurti and cut, it can look quite trendy and dressy on any body type. In fact if you are on the heavier side, I would say avoid very loose kurti’s and wear a fitted one or one that has some structure or straight lines.
Those who are in the corporate world like me, wearing kurti-leggings may seem a no no, but if styled accurately, you can transform a boring casual outfit that is usually reserved for running errands in, to looking stylish at work, going shopping or meeting your friends for brunch etc. I love casual, but if you can make it casual chic, then it’s a double whammy!
So let’s see some ways in which we can style and wear the kurti and leggings combo:
1. As I’m five feet six, and not in the best of shape at the moment, I do steer away from too baggy kurtis as they tend to make me look larger than I actually am. So I like to wear them either tapered at the waist or bust line or straight cut, but it has to be tailored right. Not tight, but comfortably fitted giving me enough room to breathe in. So bear this in mind ladies and don’t be afraid to don a kurti that has a nice close-fitted shape to accentuate your strong parts even if you’re not slim. If you’re skinny, then by all means wear the baggiest of them all if you have too, but then ensure you don’t look like a clothes hanger. Baby doll or frilly ones look best if you are slim, otherwise avoid as they will make you look frumpy. For healthy arms, avoid sleeveless and half sleeve. Instead opt for ¾ or full sleeve ones that will makes your arms slimmer. Kaftan-like kurtis also look great whatever body shape as despite being loose, when worn with leggings they look classy, especially with a pair of heels. Look at Farah Khan: she always knows what’s best for her body type.
2. The length is important as they come in as short as just below your waist or sometimes skimming your waist and even knee length, calf length or longer. I love the really long ones, but choice is yours. With short ones, you do need a damn good butt and toned legs as you don’t want a flabby out-of-shape lower half exposed in your leggings, so wear wisely as per your body shape. Also, beware of any wedging in the front region. So, I’d say stick to ones that end just below your bum and cover your crotch, especially when teaming them with leggings which are fitted and will accentuate your every curve. See what works best with your height, as the longer ones will make the body more streamlined and give you a taller appearance. Long Pakistani kurti’s teamed with leggings will not only make you look tall, but looks very elegant and apt for any occasion. With longer kurti’s, the leggings need to be ankle length and only wear calf/knee length leggings if you’re wearing one that is well above the knee. For more conservative environments, stick to the ankle length leggings only so your whole leg is covered. If you are short, then opt for kurti’s that are longer rather than the shorter ones and pair with full length leggings that will not slice you in half, thus making your body look shorter.
3. Kurtis and leggings come in brilliant hues, prints and fabrics and you have a dozen designs to choose from. The shorter leggings can also be seen with some lace detailing at the bottom. The kurti also come in variations of with or without side slits depending on the length. I love the ones you get at Fabindia and with long kurtis I do love deep side slits. If the kurti has a lot of design on it or embellishments make sure the leggings are in a solid colour, as too much of chaos will look hideous. I prefer plain leggings and that way I can wear any style kurti I want. I never match the leggings with the kurti in terms of the same colour, so try to contrast and that way you can mix and match from a handful of tops and lowers. However, black on black looks good no matter what, but do wear some pop of colour either on the collar/sleeves, in your makeup or in the accessories. Ethnic printed kurti’s are popular across the globe and contribute to the boho style statement. If you like printed leggings, by all means go ahead, just try to choose a solid kurti to highlight the leggings and maybe pair it with a more western styled kurti than an Indian one.
4. Let’s say you work at a corporate firm and power dressing at your workplace is restricted only to formal trousers, skirts and business suits or maybe the allowance of a proper salwar kameez/churidar, what then? What you can do, is pair a solid mid-calf or longer kurti which is preferably straight cut, with some black plain leggings and instead of sandals wear pumps with heels. It will look very stylish and perfect for work. You can even add some delicate jewellery like earrings or a pendant or a string of pearls and be more power dressed than the boring business suits. Try to opt for full/¾/half sleeves if you may. Sleeveless will depend on how comfortable you are at your workplace environment, but do avoid bright funky prints etc. and save them for casual do’s.
5. For more casual events, do try a host of flats, sandals etc. and even don heels to make it look dressier. You can even wear wedges as they team well with kurti-leggings. You might even get away with wearing pointy heeled ankle boots, but do so with the right kurti to ensure the whole ensemble comes together.
6. If you thought kurtis are too Indian, then why not opt for some western styled kurti’s that have a belt or buttoned down all the way in the front and look more like shirt dresses with collars. They look smart and contemporary too.
7. As kurti-leggings are versatile, you can wear any jewellery that you fancy. Depending on the style of kurti (if it’s Indian/western/fusion) choose the appropriate jewellery, like maybe a statement ethnic neck piece for a more Indian one. Or you can have your hair tied in a bun and wear some stunning dangling earrings. You can also wear a ton of bangles for a more hip look or maybe a single bracelet if you’re looking for a sleek refined look. Choose well and don’t overdo the jewellery, but restrain to one statement piece or a smaller delicate neck and earrings set.
8. Just like with other clothing, pair your bags as per the kurti you are wearing and instead of going all matchy matchy, try and contrast. You can even carry beaded and embroidered ethnic bags, but then your kurti should be plain and not have too much going on otherwise you will look OTT. For an evening out, choose a plain hued kurti or a bright printed one, which is almost ankle length and opt for a fabric that drapes well giving a streamlined yet flowy effect. Wear a contrasting coloured pair of leggings, which will only show through the long waist-high slits and a couple of inches beneath the kurti or invisible. Pair this with some heels (pumps or heeled slip ons) and a smart clutch bag and hey presto your evening wear is sorted! Try a sleeveless one or a halter neck one as that will look stunning and show off your arms and shoulders.
9. If you’re the kurti jeans kind of girl, try a pair of denim leggings or jeggings with your kurti. It will give you the best of both worlds and can be worn with any kurti.
Hope this helps girls and you can try a zillion different ways to style your kurti-leggings and transform it from daytime wear to classy evening wear to runway fashionable wear. Choose different fabrics that are more flowy than plain cotton ones to add oomph. Time to get those kurti-leggings out and strut away in style!
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