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Until very recently, a few niche brands in the Indian market such as Allen Solly, Van Heusen, and Park Avenue have been the go-to options for picking western formalwear. Collections usually range from formal pants and skirts to jackets and shirts.

However, for the more discerning Indian woman, the choices in western formalwear were limited, to say the least. Even though aggregators like Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle began offering their in-house western formal collections, they have rarely been adventurous with their choice of clothing.

Today, the work culture around the world has changed, and India is no exception. Depending on the role they play, the local weather, the degree of comfort required and even how much they travel, women are choosing to dress in a variety of different clothes. Let’s look at the evolution of formal western wear for women here and save the discussion on Indian Ethnic Workwear for a separate article.

Here are some styles that have caught our eye.

  1. The Shirt with A Twist: Gone are the days of boring formal shirts, whose best feature was often a ruffle or two around the button line. Today, shirts with lace trims, flowy sleeves and a relaxed vibe are in. Brands building a woman’s formal collection must now keep in mind the fact that many women prefer a relaxed fit, and limit a snug fit blouse to suits only. (Philip Lim, Image Source: Vogue)
Interpretation of standard formal wear shirt for working women

The Shirt with A Twist


  1. Statement Pants: Including that quintessential black trouser in your collection? Well, redesign it, or drop it, because no one is doing quintessentially with pants anymore. Wide-leg trousers are making a comeback and culottes are completely acceptable as formalwear. Think in-prints like floral and gingham. Today’s Indian woman knows how to blend comfort with a statement. (Chloe, Image Source: Vogue)
Gingham checks formal pants for working women

Statement Pants


  1. A Midi Skirt: And we’re not talking about the pencil skirts with a slit anymore. Very few women, if any, prefer sitting through endless hours of meetings and calls in skirts that ride up and down on a whim. Instead, an A-line skirt that falls just around the knees is the preferred piece. As always, embellish. (Chicwish, Image Source: Chicwish)
A working women midi skirt for office use

A Midi Skirt


  1. The New Formal Dress: Black isn’t the only formal tone anymore. In Indian summers, it would be anyone’s worst nightmare to have to step out in something black. Instead, keeping our tropical sensibilities in mind, the formal dress has evolved to be a flowy garment with one fitted element to bring it all together. (AND by Anita Dongre, Image Source: AND)
The new formal dress for working women

The New Formal Dress


  1. Blazer 2.0: What does it take to brighten up the existing wardrobe? A new jacket, of course! Most cities in India barely inspire suiting up. However, some cities like Delhi are known to have harsh winters while Bangalore is known for its year-round need for jackets. Brands like H&M are beginning to evolve to meet this very need, and you’d do well to rethink what a jacket should be. (H&M, Image Source: Vogue)
Working women's blazer

Blazer 2.0


  1. The Indian-Western Piece: This could be anything from Ikat culottes to a long line Kalamkari formal dress. India has a rich heritage of looms and fusion brands such as Bombay Paisley are tapping into the growing demand for clothes that let you breathe, and also look stylish and elegant at work. Incorporate a few of these elements into your designs, giving first priority to comfort. (Bombay Paisley, Image Source: Tatacliq)
Indowestern work wear for women

The Indian-Western Piece

What other pieces do you think would make a splash on the western formalwear scene? Tell us in the comments below.

Supriya Ghurye is the founder and owner of Fuel4Fashion. She is a Freelance Fashion Designer and Brand Consultant helping fashion brands to create great products from idea to launch. Fuel4Fashion social links: TwitterPinterestInstagram