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Indian Wedding Outfit Deep-dive: Lehenga

So you've been invited to an Indian wedding, and now you are thinking “What do I even wear to an Indian wedding??”

Well, we are here to help! We are doing a deep-dive series on all of the Indian clothing options for men and women. Our goal is to educate you on the history of various Indian outfits, what exactly the outfit is, and what wedding events it would be appropriate to wear the outfit. We want you to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the Indian clothes you're wearing!

In this part we are going to talk about Lehengas and Cholis, which if you saw the cover photo, this outfit should look familiar! As always, if you have questions, please comment or reach out, we are here to help!

Lehenga Choli pronounced: lay-nga cho-lee

What it is

The lehenga choli set is a long skirt (almost floor length) and cropped top. They are usually also accompanied with a stole, or ‘dupatta’ (do-put-uh) that drapes over the wearer . ‘Lehenga’ is the floor length skirt and ‘choli’ is the blouse, which is usually cropped.

Lehengas can be made from different materials, which will give the skirt a different look and feel depending on the fabric. Lehengas made with silk usually look more full, as it is a stiffer material. These lehengas are going to be more elaborate and elegant, typically with heavy work and embroidery - the classic bridal lehenga look. Mostly you will see silk lehengas on the bride and close family. Since these lehengas are heavier, they are better suited for a winter wedding.

Georgette is another material commonly used to make lehengas, and they are usually more flowy and pliable. This fabric still has an elegant feel, but is easier and more comfortable to wear since it is lighter than a silk lehenga. Georgette lehenga designs look stunning in just a simple solid color, or with a fun and dazzling print, or with some light detail work and embellishment on them. Keep in mind this lighter fabric typically cannot support heavy detail work like a silk lehenga can. Since Georgette is lighter weight, it would do well at a spring or summer wedding event or a wedding in a warm climate.

Brocade fabric is a great choice if you want to have an elegant look without paying for all the embellishment work. Brocade is typically a silk/cotton blended fabric with detail work woven right into the fabric. It is a little heavier than Georgette but not as much as the silk, so it would be ideal for a spring, fall, or winter wedding event.

Other fabrics to consider are velvet and chiffon. Velvet lehengas tend to be heavier but have a very elegant look and more suited for an evening formal event or a winter wedding. Chiffon is similar to Georgette but the fabric is lighter and best worn to a spring/summer Indian wedding.

The choli is a blouse that is worn above the lehenga, and it is usually cropped, leaving the midriff bare. That being said, you can totally find tops, or have a top made, that covers your midriff. Cholis can have sleeves or can be sleeveless, with all kinds of intricate designs and backs depending on your style and what you're comfortable wearing. Cholis can be made from many different fabrics like silk, silk/cotton blend ,georgette, brocade, and chiffon. Although designers have successfully used various fabrics for lehenga, silk is still the most widely used and the most traditional fabric. Again, choose a fabric that fits your style and is comfortable for you.

One last thing to consider with your choice in lehenga is time of day of for the event. Morning and day-time events tend to have brighter and more vibrant colors like yellows, oranges, and pinks as well as pale shades too. Evening and formal events tend to have darker, more moody colors like blacks, golds, royal purples, deeper shades of colors to support the elevated and more formal atmosphere.

History of the outfit

Lehenga Cholis became very popular in the 10th century in India when the Mughal empire took over. Cotton lehengas were worn on a daily basis by women of all classes, but over the years, the royals started stitching them with higher end materials, like brocade and silk, which then evolved them to be more celebratory outfits, which is what we see today!

Where is it appropriate to wear

Lehenga choli sets are appropriate for all wedding functions, but as they tend to be made with nicer materials and look more formal, they are most appropriate for the actual wedding ceremony itself or formal receptions after the wedding. That being said, you can totally wear a lehenga choli to a henna party, or ‘mehndi’ or even an Indian engagement party. There are many lehenga cholis sets that look appropriate for these vibrant and celebratory pre-wedding events! Find a fun print, or solid color, or a lehenga with light embellishment work and you will fit right in!

Choose a fabric and a style that is appropriate for the Indian Wedding event, and one that makes you feel comfortable and go own your Indian Wedding experience! We have a few lehengas in our collection, and are working to include more. Currently, you can check out our Women's shop today to see the lehenga cholis we have in stock. ‘The Amanda’ and ‘The Angela’ are our most popular!

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