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From Lehengas to Layers: 5 Things We Can Learn from Desi Fashion by Neha Avadhani

Desi fashion has evolved so much in recent years. We’ve seen innovative silhouettes like off-shoulder saree blouses, cool textures like net overlays, and a lot more bright, bold colors. With a lot of these trends taking inspiration from western fashion, it’s only fair we take inspiration from them. Let’s take a look at 5 modern takes on Desi favorites, and how you can steal them for your own wardrobe.

1. Layers

Coming from a background in modest fashion, Desi girls have always known how to layer. The trick here is to play with proportions.

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How they do it: This mint kurta top is really flowy, but it cinches at the waist, making the look elegant and not frumpy. The palazzo pants cut off perfectly at the ankle, so she doesn’t look like she’s swimming in them.

How you can do it: Tuck a t-shirt into some straight leg trousers and throw on a long-line blazer. The t-shirt will give you the cinched figure you want, while the blazer still has the oversized fun factor. When you nail the proportions, you nail the look.

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How they do it: A full, flowy lehenga (skirt) creates volume and drama, but it’s dressed down with a simple long kurti top. The solid red skirt grounds the look while the patterned kurti adds depth. The three-quarter length sleeves and the side slit in the kurti create just the right angles so the look isn’t overwhelming.

How you can do it: Pair a full, midi skirt with a long sweater to show off your layering mastery. Add a belt to tie it all together and give you the right shape.

2. Belts

Belts can go such a long way in grounding an outfit. They give you that waist-snatched look you’re going for, even in big and bold silhouettes.

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How they do it: A gorgeous chiffon saree draped casually for an effortless look is pulled together with a statement black belt. It gives the model a tiny waist and shows off the flowiness of the fabric.

How you can do it: Wear your favorite full, printed maxi dress and add a leather belt to highlight your shape. Wear it higher to showcase the dress’s length and give you maximum twirl.

3. Monochrome

Everyone loves a good monochrome look, and the best way to do this is like these Desi fashionistas—by playing with textures.

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How they do it: This white chudidhar suit set is covered in chikankari embroidery, creating the first texture in this beautiful outfit. It’s styled with gathered leggings, and a two-tone dupatta (scarf). The smooth part of the scarf highlights the rest of the set, and the sheer dotted ends add some more interest. Overall, the layered textures keep the look interesting.

How you can do it: Pair a tight, turtleneck bodysuit with a pair of scrunched trousers. Add some mid-calf boots to play up the texture, and throw an oversized fluffy coat on top for another layer of contrast.

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How they do it: A sheer, tiered lehenga (skirt) is paired with a chevron, embroidered top. The look is topped off with a silky dupatta (scarf).

How you can do it: Wear your favorite long sleeve top with a soft, pleated skirt, and matching stockings. Finish the look off with some pumps (or even boots) and the fluffiest coat you can find. Sunglasses are an optional touch to add some more flare. Monochrome does not have to be boring with these looks!

4. Sheer

Sheer fabrics can be tricky to style, but not when you use them to show off what’s underneath. Knock-out conventions and break a few boundaries with these looks.

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How they wear it: This lehenga choli (skirt and top set) is two layers consisting of an elegant floral pattern overlaid with a soft sparkly tulle. The tulle adds some depth, yet still allows the florals to shine through.

How you can wear it: Try this unexpected combo of a sheer net dress with a bralette and your favorite skinny jeans. The blue peeking through looks stunning.

5. Print mixing

Print mixing seems intimidating, but these looks are killer and easy to pull off (with a few tips).

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How they do it: This bold chevron lehenga (skirt) is matched with a top and jacket of a contrasting floral print. The dark reds and deep blues keep both prints grounded, which is why you should always stick to a complementary color family.

How you can do it: Mix a monochrome print with a multicolor one that picks up the same color, like this red floral combo. Then, top the look off with a neutral jacket. Tying together larger and smaller prints also helps to create a cohesive look.

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