This wedding season, ditch the bling…

‘Will I look too plain? Everyone will be soooo decked up… will I look too underdressed?’ – Let’s be honest… We’ve all asked ourselves that question time and again… especially when planning our outfit for an Indian wedding function? I certainly have…!

Personally, I’m not a huge ‘bling’ fan. It can look really gorgeous in moderation, but people have the tendency of going over-board with it – the diamonds, crystals and Swarovski studded sarees and dresses, shiny accessories to match… sometimes, I really feel I could go blind! My personal festive sense of style is quite understated, and trust me, when everyone else is glittering and shimmering, going understated actually gets way more attention! 😉 The key is to get the ‘understated’ right…!

Here are 5 things that you need to focus on, in order to create your perfect ‘Un-Bling’ festive look:

 #1: Choice of Fabric:

Fabrics such as silk, velvet, silk chiffon are rich and have a natural sheen, which makes them look festive even without any embellishment. Then there are brocades and Jamevaar, which are a blend of silk threads with subtle thread-embroidery woven into the fabric to make the design a part of the fabric. Using brocade or Jamevaar eliminates the need for any additional work or embroidery as the fabric itself adds to the grandeur.

My personal favorite is raw silk. Raw silk has this unique shine, can be dyed in any colour and has a somewhat un-finished, coarse feel about it, which makes for quite an interesting contradiction in the fine outfit that you’re creating.

Another thing that I personally love to do, is to get beautiful woven silk saarees like Banarasi, Pochampally or Kaanjiwarams and turn them on their head, to create grand looking sherwanis, corsets, Kurtas, tops, skirts or jackets. The fabric of these saarees itself is so grand, with their embroideries or zari work, that I find no need to add any additional embellishment to it!

#2: Give the fabric majority of the attention:

I love outfits where the fabric is given all the attention.

My favorite outfit is this gorgeous indo-western lehenga, which I designed for myself, made entirely from raw silk, with layers and layers of fabric, taffeta and net underneath to give it that flair and lift! That skirt alone weighs around 4kg, which is the weight of nothing but the fabric.



Personally, I love the slight Victorian kinda flair and lift in my lehengas… they add to the grandeur of the outfit, taking it from just something understated, to something ‘Lavishly understated’!

My top is a well-constructed corset with a pure jamevaar front and a black raw silk back. The colours and the silver threadwork in the jamevaar make up for all the bling that’s missing from the outfit.

#3: Subtle Embroidery:

I do love embroideries. Thread embroideries in complementary colours or the same colour (as that of the base fabric) look subtle yet lift-up the whole outfit.

There are times when you simply have to add a little extra shine to the outfit, without really added the ‘BLING’! That’s when I go for embroidery with stones and crystals. However, you can make them look really classy and subtle by using high quality crystals in the same colour as your fabric… So black crystals on black, Champagne coloured ones on dull gold and pink on pink… that’ll add that desired affect while maintaining the ‘understated’ theme of your entire outfit. The trick is to keep it really minimal and not over-do it.

I’m not particularly fond of sequin and glass embroidery but if you must have sequin, apply the same colour principle and it’ll do good.


This lovely sea-green chiffon saaree has gorgeous chikan embroidery in pearl colour thread! I wear it with a pearl lace, tube-y blouse that I designed myself.

#4:  Shock Value:

With an outfit that’s so elegant and classy… there’s nothing better to out-shine the bling around, than a little shock value…! A little bit of skin (And by that, I do NOT mean cleavage) can take your understated look to the ‘head-turner’ level! Play around with the backs of the blouses… or go for a halter neckline. Crop-tops or short blouses on lehengas look great as well!

You could also play around with the drape of your saaree…

If you’re built slim, do a sexy drape and let your mid-riff show a little… For us other rather curvy ones, experimenting with the backs and the necklines is always a great option…!



#5: Jewelry that compliments:

When it comes to western wear, I’m entirely a necklace person! However, with Indian outfits, I usually tend to find necklaces quite overwhelming (since the clothes themselves tend to get a lil OTT). And so, I focus on the earrings. Large danglers, chandbaalas or Jhumkas are my favorites. If you’re only wearing the earrings, then you can wear gold, diamond or silver, whatever suits your outfit,… just make sure they’re large and bring your face alive! Oh and I never leave the look incomplete without a nice statement ring and a bracelet (or a large number of bangles!!!)


(This look from my Cousin’s engagement ceremony in Mysore)

However, bold statement necklaces and kadas in antique gold or antique silver (depending on the base shade of your outfit), look brilliant with the understated look… especially if you’re wearing subtle silk, chiffon or cotton sarees!


(Pic from my friend’s wedding reception in Mumbai.)

You could also accessorize your plain saarees with a chunky oxidized silver or antique- gold finished waist belt (Kamar-bandh).

The maang tikka is another one of my favorite-st pieces of jewelry, simply because they light up your face and just work on adding that finishing touch to the look.


#6: Complete the look:

Play with the hair! Since you’re going quite ‘plain’ otherwise, work on making that hair more dramatic. Thanks to my curls, I usually just leave my hair down… they make for a very nice contrast with the Indian look. But you could try different hairstyles from a high bun, to a messy pig-tail.

A classy pair of heels and a nice embellished clutch, and you’re all set to make heads turn!


(Pic from my BFF’s wedding last year in Mumbai! This classic, evergreen look can never go out of fashion!)

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About Me

Sonal is a Post Graduate in Luxury Brand Management from Polimoda Institute of Fashion Design and Marketing, Florence (Italy) and has over 9 years of experience as a Brand Strategist working in the advertising industry.

She has also been a Consumer Insights Miner specializing in fashion and luxury brands.