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The Engagement Look Book

By Sanhati Banerjee

What to wear on your engagement? How to look the part and get the most awesome pictures clicked? How to work out your couture as per the theme of the function? These might be the questions on top of your mind if you are going to get engaged soon. Here’s how to do the look with Elan and elegance without ever losing out on sensuousness. Read on to get a hang.

So the date for your engagement has been fixed and the banquet hall has been booked for the large scale function…the thoughts of which are occupying your mind the most these days. Or maybe, if you are one of those souls who believe in smaller and more intimate gatherings you have already got the décor ideas for you home underway for that occasion. And, oh yes, the rings, how can one forget the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be’s rings? Those are the most exciting things, right? Getting those stones customised, getting the sizes right; it seems there’s some secret ring science that seems to be working behind those fancy finger creations these days! Then comes the most delectable part of all the planning and shopping aspects – you! How to dress up in the most flattering manner? How to make the most of your looks and slip into dresses that will just do wonder to your frame? Fashion designers have come on board to share their opinions on what and how they think can help you make the cut.
This is undoubtedly the season of romance with Valentine’s Day round the corner and lots of would-be couples getting engaged to each other. The New Year also calls for some fresh rethinking on fashion though it would be far-fetched to say that trends and sartorial concepts change so quickly. And thank god for the fact that classics remain classics!
Coming to your own engagement ceremony/party, well, it could be a small-scale affair or a grand formal celebration. The engagement ceremony, as you must be aware of is variously called the aashirvad, mangni or ring ceremony. Needless to say, it is essentially a pre-wedding ceremony and hence a smaller affair than the wedding.

The Large and Small of it

If it’s a small scale engagement function, it tends to be performed mostly at homes. The budget for such occasions also occupies a considerably smaller percentage of the entire wedding budget. So it follows that the budget for the engagement outfit will occupy a suitably lower percentage of the budget set aside for the entire engagement function. On such occasions, it makes sense to opt for more tasteful couture rather than lavish. Tasteful couture will anyway turn out to be the most preferred choice of many brides-to-be where budget may not be a practical constraint. On the other hand, if the ceremony proposed is going to be large in terms of scale and volume and if your taste permits, you can opt for something more lavish in terms of the fabric/s used and the work done. Also, there are destination weddings, for which the couture can be given a bolder or more innovative twist. But, at the end of the day, for a destination engagement party, one needs to plan the outfits as per the locale of venue. If it’s a resort then “one can go for modern drapery with Indian accents of blouses and dhoti pants and for a beach wedding one can try an effortlessly long flowy dress” says Kanika Jain who is the owner of the designer label ‘Kanelle by Kanika’. She further mentions that one can go all out on Indo-western for a fort/palace wedding.
At the end of the day, no matter what the scale of the occasion is, an engagement ceremony is a beautiful one loaded with moments wherein two hearts come closer and two families spend some real qualitative time together. And if you want that one top of the trade idea that can work for both the occasions – that is, the small and large one, here’s the cue as fashion designer Sagarika Mittal Goyal says “A peplum lehenga would work best for any time of
the day; even a palazzo having an attached saree drape in varied blouse lengths is bound to get the eyes rolling with never-seen-before type of look at all kinds of locations.” These are not that expensive and work for every scale!

Ideas for Choosing Outfits
The idea is to keep it stylish and make use of each piece of clothing later as well. So, most brides-to-be are opting for their own versions of multi-purpose ceremonial attire and practical couture. Go experimental if you want to stand out from the rest. “A flared long skirt can be teamed with jackets or long flared dresses that can be worn as Anarkalis can be teamed up with stoles. One can wear a jacket blouse with skirts/sarees as these have the look of a modern version of lehengas. Pastel colours are the ones that work very well. Indian weddings have always seen people wearing all kinds of bright colours, so this season one can totally try out soft English pastels instead. Wear pants (flared/fitted) with jacket blouses along with a stole draped as a saree. That will be perfect for a young bride-to-be to stand out in the crowd. Accessories such a batua, small embroidered clutches, etc. are quite handy to keep your essentials and make a statement. One must choose the right jewellery to go with their outfits to complement their look like big maangtikas, cuff bangles, big earrings, etc.” says Kanika Jain.

Go Indie-Chic

While many women now feel it’s best to stay away from Indian wear on ceremonies to sport a “contemporary chic” look, Indian wear that is done with subtlety and has been treated with vivaciousness can never go wrong for Indian ceremonies as it alone has the right colours, bling and radiance that sets festivals and ceremonies apart from everyday life. Designer Nikasha Tawadey makes a passionate plea when she says “Please stick to Indian clothes and not some gown! Options could include a lehenga or a lehenga-saree. A kurta with an embroidered waist coat and a skirt worn with a heavily embroidered kalidar would work well too.” After the formal function is over, for the intimate party, she suggests some real sexy ideas! She says “This is the time to look sexy and fun, try a black pair of warm leggings and a snug fit black cashmere polo neck, now take an embroidered or woven dupatta and drape it anyway you want tucking one side into your waist. You can also use old woven sarees and make them into capes, wear them with skinny lycra satin churidars and stiletto boots. Alternatively, velvet or silk patiala pants in emerald green with a purple turtle neck and plenty of glass bangles in red can work wonders.” Now this is what is hotness is made of!

Couture Touch-ups
As a general rule, the engagement outfit should not be as heavy as the wedding outfit. For the function at home, which will be a smaller gathering the outfit “should be kept minimalistic and one can wear a nice floor length Anarkali or a light saree in a vibrant colour. For the outdoor function, one can wear a lehenga or a gown with some nice accessories with it and play with the hairdo as well” says designer Bhumika Grover.
“A heavy and embroidered Anarkali or a pastel shaded lehenga with a modern colour combo and less embellishment would really suit this occasion of an engagement. Long earrings with a choker which is delicately designed would add to the flair” says designer Sandhya Shah. Yes, of course, never shy away from pastels as these complement Indian skin tones to the T.
So, the picture emerges as a pretty fashionable one filled with montages of fall-in-love kind of couture concepts that can make you feel simply wow. And that’s the way to go for this really special occasion of your life.

The Desirable & the Undesirable
Here is a list of some of the desirable and undesirable styling items and ideas:-
Say ‘Yes’ to:
The Saree: No, not the regular ones but the most creative ones! You can choose from various forms like the saree-lehengas, saree gowns, shararas, half-sarees etc. or from various versions like goddess sarees, two-piece sarees or a sculpted pallu. Many of these can flatter your curves and strike the right balance between tradition and modernity.
Flower Jewellery: Be it fresh flower stunners or flower motif precious head-turners, there’s always something refreshing and romantic about flowers be it for winter or for spring. Haathphools are instant charmers which can lend grace to your engagement ceremony outfit. Also think flowers for hair.
Say ‘No’ to:
The ‘Rajai’ Scheme: Says Sagarika Mittal Goyal, “The rajai scheme of work drenched in rhinestone bling, cheap first copies are complete turn offs. I also think avoiding the done-to-death trend of Anarkalis will be a good idea too.”
Wedding Colours: Engagement ceremonies call for lighter shades of any bright colour since the darker hues are better left for the wedding day. Designer Kritika Dawar says “The best part about dressing up for engagement is that you can wear colours which you would usually avoid for the D-day like white, blue, light pinks, yellow, green, purple and many more. Soft colours such as pink, baby blue or peach give out pure and innocent vibes”

Getting the Right Look
Getting married is a big event in every individual’s life and should be celebrated like a festival with loads of colours and joy. Unlike In the West where the engagement ceremony is usually kept simple or private, in India, the formal ceremony where the bride and the groom exchange rings in front of all the family members is a grand celebration and dressing up is a part of the event. Depending on the theme and the scale of the function one should decide upon the kind of outfit. Here are a few tips to select the right outfit and look for the engagement ceremonies:
Go less on detail work: Avoid outfits with heavy detail work instead opt of a saree or lehenga with embroidery on the hemlines. A blouse with heavy detail work combined with a simple saree also works well. Accessorise with traditional Indian jewellery like a choker necklace, bangles or kadha to complete the look.
‘Anarkalis’ are perfect for such occasions: An Anarkali lehenga or churidar are a favourite in India during wedding seasons. The voluminous silhouette in an Anarkali looks grand for the occasion and is the Indian equivalent of a gown. So flaunt your look this wedding season in a beautiful Anarkali which are just perfect for engagements.
Explore new trends: Never buy your dress in a hurry. You need to explore the market to know about the latest trends. Lehenga-saree, lehenga-choli, full-length Anarkali suits and gowns are in vogue these days. Try on the different styles to see what goes best with your look and taste. Only after you are completely satisfied with the dress, go ahead and make it yours.
Get the right look: After deciding your dress, ask your stylist what kind of hairdo and makeup will go with your dress, as every outfit calls for a different hairdo and makeup. As far as the accessories go, keep them as simple and minimalistic as possible.
Inputs are taken from fashion designer, Kritika Dawar


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