Margazhi Dressing 101

One of the unique festivals Chennai partakes in is the Margazhi Arts festival, popularly dubbed “the December season”. It’s that time of the year when all the sabhas (performance halls) are brimming with people of all ages, dressed in their finery, watching artistes perform. Be it music, dance, or theatre by amateur and veteran artists alike, there’s something about the season that makes Chennai come alive more than usual.

As a person who has been to her fair share of performances since childhood, I can safely admit that sometimes you get stuck with figuring out what to wear for a concert. “Is this too grand?” “Is this too underdressed?” “Is this blouse too low cut?” and so on. And bringing together fashion with quintessentially Chennai activities is what this blog is about, so here’s a fail safe guide to dressing for the season. Plus, the Great Online Shopping Festival on 10 and 11 December means you might get great deals on all the picks!

1. The kurti

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Kurtis by Biba & W, respectively. All pictures from Jabong. (annoyingly small, sorry)

A simple rule of thumb when it comes to selecting your kurti for a concert is to choose a kurti that you wouldn’t wear to college (maybe it’s a little too embellished or in a thicker material) but wouldn’t choose for the wedding of your first/second cousin. Fabrics like brocade and chanderi are good choices. The problem is you don’t get too many readymade chanderi/brocade/raw silk kurtis so you might have to get them stitched. But cotton or cotton-blend kurtis in jewel tones (think emerald green, cobalt blue, and red) with a bit of sequin/metallic detail/embroidery are perfect.

  • Go for flared kurtis if your shoulders are broader than your hips &straight cut kurtis if vice versa.
  • Choose lighter colours such as white, ivory, off-white, cream for morning/afternoon concerts

2. The dupatta

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Pink-Purple Paisley Khari Block Printed Cotton Dupatta & Yellow-Fuschia Khari Printed Chanderi Dupatta from Photos courtesy Jaypore.

Let’s face it, with the multitude of aged women and men in the sabhas, a sleeveless kurti or saree blouse is bound to get some dirty stares and mutters about this generation. A dupatta is an amazing starting point for an outfit. If you don’t mind shelling out, then I would suggest the ones above. But if not, and your mother loves exhibitions (and I’m quite sure most mothers do), you should be having at least one Indian handicraft item. I have a black dupatta with pink, blue and yellow print that pairs very well with a plain blue raw silk kurta and an off-white pair of chudidhars. Using my print pairing formula here, you too can take your embellished dupattas and make them Margazhi outfit-friendly. Plus, it also helps when the sabha turns its air conditioning on to a very cold temperature. Dupatta 1, AC 0.

3. The chudidhar


Globus chudidhar from Jabong, picture courtesy Jabong.

No cotton leggings- they’ll bring down your entire look. Try silk blend ones that have a bit of stretch so that they remain comfortable. You get them from Globus (online on Jabong) or in Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle.

4. The shoes


Embellished flats by Do Bhai & Inc. 5, from Flipkart. Pictures courtesy

The shoes you wear for weddings will do. Metallic detailing, glitter, maybe even a heel. Nothing too grand though- you don’t want it to take away from the rest of the outfit. Try any of the above for a versatile pair that will go with any ethnic wear. Wear heels if you’re not going to walk to/from the sabha.

5. The accessories

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 Antique necklace from Kshetra via Facebook, Earrings from Snapdeal

Go big or go home. I love antique jewelry for such occasions. You could try beaded necklaces for a modern take- they would suit afternoon programmes perfectly.


Green Silk Potli from IndianRoots

Choose a bag that’s small and easy to carry (must fit phone), like the potli bag above.

Bangles are a must.Wear a cocktail (large, statement making) ring if you’re wearing simple bangles. Try an ear cuff maybe?

That’s all I’ve got for now. Don’t forget to make use of the Great Online Shopping Festival on 10th and 11th December 2014 to get great deals from all the sites I’ve featured above! Happy Margazhi!

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