Evolution of Indian fashion over the ages

Indian fashion history is drenched with the best trends.

Fashion goes in a circle, or so they say. India’s love for six-yard-long saree is not the only fashion element. While saree has been present through all the ages, there were periods where one clothing item ruled. Like bell-bottoms were the go-to look for people in the 70’s, puffed haired celebrities became a rage as well. India’s fashion trends have followed the societal change and what we see today is a major influence of that. And Bollywood of, course.

The post-independence period was a revolutionary one as more person fought for their freedom. During 1950-1960 saw a major shift in clothing technique. Saree was the go-to wearable, but the draping style shifted. Salwar kameez with dupatta started making its mark. White kurtas with dhotis were still worn but the European influence had already started.  Delicate jewellery with chiffon sarees became quite a rage.

The ‘60s ushered in the bold fashion trends. Low-cut crop tops with capri pants were made popular by the beautiful Madhubala. Low-cut tops were made popular by Bollywood. Anarkalis were also popularized by movies like Mughal-e-Azam. The taste in men’s clothing was becoming more Western as puffed hair, sweater and mufflers became the trendiest look.

Fashion follows an arc and post-independence period saw the revival of zardozi embroidery – the revival made possible by Ritu Kumar. Other Indian embroideries like ikat, patola, tie-dye started making their appearance as well.

While sarees were being replaced by jeans and tops and t-shirts, 70’s era was the Age of Decadence. The elegance of a saree was being replaced by the comfort of the pant-suit, skirts, polka dot dresses. It also saw the rise of Indira Gandhi as a fashion icon, with her khadi sarees. Women started dressing in clothes they wanted to dress, and the result was fabulous. Men’s pants became slimmer, inspired by Rajesh Khanna. The angry young man of Bollywood popularized leather jackets as well.

The later decades to come saw opulent jewellery usage in movies. Baggy pants were Govinda’s trademark and were adored. Magnificent sheer sarees were all the rage after Manish Malhotra designed one in a movie. The desi look with a twist was coming back in vogue.

With the turn of the millennia, the mall culture and foreign brands setting up shops in India provided a major turning force. There are so many options to choose from.

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