Dress to Lead: How to Carry off Ethnics at Work

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A little bit of everything nice defines our philosophy in life. We love pav-bhaji as much as the Coquilles Saint-Jacques, and wear our power suits with equal panache as the sari.  Our workwear choices reflect this diverse sartorial mood—after all a handloom sari makes as much impact in the boardroom as a suit.

Ethnicwear is easily associated with ornate dressing, but try our tried and tested styling tricks to make your favourite ethnics make for striking workplace ensembles with ease.

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The Great Indian Sari

Few garments compare to the sari in elegance; choose the right drape and it will also be a functional ensemble. Most of us invest in elaborate saris to wear on festive occasion, but if you plan to wear one to office make sure it’s minimal. A chic cotton or chiffon sari makes for ideal workwear, teamed with an understated blouse. No glitter and low necklines. Pick plain, slim-bordered saris or floral and abstract prints. Finish with pearls for a classic look.

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Mood Indigo

Diana Vreeland may have called pink the navy blue of this country, but indigo may well be the quintessential colour of India. This rich blue, yielded by the traditional dyeing technique, was en vogue through 2015 and we predict they will flourish this year too. Pick indigo-dyed separates to mix and match with your basics for a look that spells desi without going OTT. Finish the look with tribal jewellery. You can even customize your own designs with indigo fabrics.

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The New Salwar-Kameez

Whether you like dressing old-school or channelling Bollywood stars, a salwar-kameez set is a fuss-free way to channel ethnic at work. The salwar-kameez isn’t an unconventional outfit, but we recommend you keep it simple and work appropriate. The office is no place to go print crazy or try neon colour blocking. Instead, update the traditional 3-piece set with asymmetrical hems, slim-fit bottomwear, and no dupattas for a fuss-free look.

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Palazzo Effect

You may have worn kurtas with your favourite pair of denims on countless occasions, but it’s time to turn things around. Skip the pants and wear your beloved kurta with palazzo pants. The roomy silhouette will keep you comfortable through thick and thin. Get playful with prints. Think Floral, windowpane, and vintage motifs that you can mix and match for a fresh vibe.

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Ethnic Skirts

Who doesn’t love a good skirt? Particularly with so many patterns and hues to choose from. With the spotlight on A-line skirts and mullet hems, long ethnic skirts rarely top the trend charts, but they have more promise than you might imagine. Next time you plan on wearing a skirt, choose one with gotta-patti or patch work—in colourful prints and patterns, these make for standout pieces. Pair with plain topwear so the focus lies on the skirt.

Images: AM-PM; Anokhi; Cottons Jaipur; Ethnic Queen; Fabindia; Girl at First Avenue; Glamradar; Kiran Sawhney; Nakshi;Style Inked; Vintage Obsession; Udd Studio; Zanita.

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