General Outfit Guidance

The outfit options traditionally available to women vary more than those for men, but all tend to be colorful and elaborate, with patterns or embroidery or beading being common and jewelry almost perfunctory. This is no place for Coco Chanel and her "take one thing off" guidance! If you're shopping online, it's very common for them to be made-to-measure or come partially stitched; obviously this can impact timelines so we recommend starting early! Here are some key phrases to get your search started:

- Lehenga Cholis: Generally a crop top (choli), full skirt (lehenga) and draped scarf (dupatta)- easy to find at many price points, appropriate for most events, can range from casual to very formal, this is one of the most common choices. 
- Pre-Draped Sari: No pleating necessary! Pre-Draped sarees are an easy way to get a more formal look without many safety pins (and at least one talented auntie).
- Anarkali: Essentially a dress with coordinating leggings- great option for anyone looking for more full coverage than lehengas provide, also available in a huge range of styles and levels of formality/detail.
- Kurta: Tunic-length top worn across genders, usually paired with churidar, leggings, slim-fit trousers for men, or palazzo, sharara, or skinny pants for women. When googling examples, keep in mind these terms can be gendered- they're often referred to as "kurta pyjama" for men and "kurta set" for women.
- Sherwani: equivalent to a western suit jacket but with a hem that falls to the knees, worn over a kurta or tee. Kurtas alone can have embroidery and collars and be intended to be worn alone, but they can also be quite thin and plain and essentially function as undershirts for sherwanis.

The typical indicators of western formality- dress length and suit style- aren't really applicable here. Instead you can use the kind of fabric, jewelry, color, and level of detail like embroidery, beading, and sparkle, to differentiate one event from another. Sangeet outfits tend to be loud, shiny, boldly colored and made for easy dancing. The Hindu ceremony is formal but typically less flashy.


Bangles, jhumkas, necklaces, hair pieces- your jewelry doesn't have to be South Asian but it should be present! Even if you opt for Western-wear, a few carefully coordinated bangles can help you get garba-ready with the best of them. 

Fusion Options

You don't need to buy whole new outfits to join in the festivities. First, you should feel free to rock your favorite brightly-colored Western-wear; you're perfect just the way you are! But if you want to nod to the nature of the event at the Sangeet or Hindu ceremony, fusion-wear is very much en vogue and can be fun to put together. This pic is actually of a set I got from Lulus with a dupatta I purchased separately. You can easily do the same with any dress or maxi skirt outfit, or try a new kurta top but pair it with slim-fit pants you already own. I recommend exploring some of the outfit options outlined below and then consider where you could sub in pieces you already own.

Where to Shop

If you prefer an in-person shopping experience, and you live in NYC, Chicago, or North Jersey, the options are plentiful! If you're okay shopping online, here are some sites to try:
- For Rentals: Rent an Attire, Borrow the Bazaar, Bollywood Borrowed, Preserve, and I have periodically seen some lehengas show up in Rent the Runway
- For Purchase (wide price ranges, resale, or good sale selections): Loved LehengaPernia's Pop Up, Panash India, Aza Fashions, Hatkay, House of Indya
- Familiar faces: Some people have had great luck with Etsy, and there are some options on ASOS and Nordstroms if you catch a good sale or are more comfortable with familiar sizing guides
- Remember that fusion fits are always an option!

A Note on Appropriation vs Appreciation

We absolutely trust you all to be respectful and have good intentions, so please feel free to lean into the cultural aspects of this celebration. You are being invited to try new styles of clothing, you will be invited to don mehndi (henna) and try to garba, we would love for everyone to learn and try new things as we bring our many-faceted communities together. While there are some contentious elements to Western adoption of South Asian fashion (think: what's deemed "festival wear", yoga-as-fitness culture or casual bindi-wearing), in general, if it's mentioned in this guide, it's totally fair game! As always, definitely feel free to reach out if you have any specific questions.

Modesty Notes

For many Indian weddings, there are heightened expectations about modesty, particularly at the ceremony. While this is undoubtably true for many functions, we do not have any restrictions you should be aware of! Bare shoulders, heads, and/or midriffs are welcome here.