If you think Anarkali is a type of fruit, and you use saris to cover burns on your coffee table, it’s time to rethink Indian fashion. Enter the convertible party dress/Indian outfit. Beaded, embroidered or made of lush, draped fabrics, your next cocktail dress could easily be converted into a sexy suit.

Dropping $300 to over a $1000 on a sari, salwaar kameez or lengha can seem steep if you only wear Indian clothes once a year (and you’ve earmarked those funds for a splurge on Cole Haan leather boots). But a great dress can be converted into a scene-stealing Indian outfit with the right leggings and attitude. And the right Indian outfit can be changed into an amazing dress that people will stare and stare at.

From French Connection, purveyors of sparkly little things with enough bling to work double-time as a dress and suit:

This dress is hot, hot, hot! Shimmery, sequiny and sexy, this dress would pair well with a pair of black leggings, some metallic bracelets and black crystal drop earrings. You could add a simple black chiffon dupatta or go without for maximum impact. Love the low back and detailing at the lower back/hips.

Morningstar Knits, $228

This sequin and beaded shift would work with a pair of fitted gold brocade trousers, a slimmer salwaar, or leggings in black, gold or a bright jewel colour. Add a sheer dupatta on your shoulder, rock a 20s ‘do and you’ll have all the aunties asking which Indian shop you bought your fab outfit from.

Isabella Beads, $188


For a more conservative look, try this long sleeved number with matching grey or black leggings and a belt if you like. Put your hair up in a dramatic high bun, pair with long, dangling earrings in gold and crystal, and you’ll look like you’re wearing Indian couture by an up-and-coming designer, rather than the same dress you wore the night before out to drinks with your girls.

Fireburst Fringing, $298


From the Fall/Winter 2010 Collection of Vancouver Indo-cool fashion house, Lotus Eye

Lush, brocade and topped with an obi belt, this long pleated skirt will turn heads whether worn at a wedding reception, a fashion show or out for drinks at the local hotspot. Pair with a white tank, corset, full-sleeved blouse or even a sari blouse for a unique look. Elevate the look with vintage jewels or edgy, nature inspired necklaces (as shown in the pictures).





This Indian inspired caftan is elegant enough to work double-shift as a unique alternative to a sari or the common cocktail dress. I love the contrast of the bare shoulder with the opposite arm covered all the way to the wrist. Wear this on its own or with a pair of shiny black/contrast leggings if you feel a bit exposed. 

(Lotus Eye photos by Robert Kenney)








Lotus Eye also has gorgeous, slinky, draped silk pajami suits that double as dresses. For more info, visit Lotus Eye.




Story By: Manjot Bains