Decades of Bollywood Fashion

Fashion trends have been influenced by Bollywood actresses since the mid-1900s. Herewith, our favourite stars and the trends they made famous.


Bollywood divas jived on the screen in bell bottoms, platform heels, big sunglasses, jump suits and maxi dresses. Hair trends on the big screen included Zeenat Aman’s long straight hair and bangs, and iconic wigs worn by Hema Malini and Neetu Singh. And eye makeup was thick, bold and exaggerated black eyeliner, creating dramatic cat eyes on screen. Women weren’t the only ones rocking trendy bell bottoms. Remember your dad’s polyester buttoned shirts with fitted suit jackets, mimicking Amitabh Bachan and Rishi Kapoor?

Bright colours were all the rage in this era. Actresses like Rekha and Sridevi wore plain chiffon saris, fitted churidar suits, and pulled off bright red lipstick with every outfit. Big hair was big in both Hollywood and Bollywood – Dimple Kapadia signature locks were worn long, wavy and full. Men’s fashion didn’t change much from the 70s, but bell bottoms gave way to white pants, and collared shirts were still worn on the big screen.

Should we call it the Hum Aapke Hai KaunKuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) era? Every girl wanted the purple blue sari and the green/white outfit Madhuri Dixit wore in Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, and who didn’t want the Manish Malhotra designed bright green outfit worn by Kajol in DDLJ? Actresses like Kajol, Juhi Chawla and Karisma Kapoor wore fitted black skirts, long boots, multi-colour bandhni outfits, and started showing more skin. The 90s marked a shift in fashion for both men and women as India’s economic policies brought in international name brands like DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana and Levis.

With the new millenium, fashion changed on the big screen. We started seeing a trend for unique styles and classic designer pieces. Designers like Neeta Lulla and Manish Malhotra brought jewels, embellishment and bling to the big screen, and their designs continue to influence what we wear and find in stores today. Remember Aishwarya Rai’s net lenghas in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam? And her equally opulent outfits in Devdas and Jodha Akbar? Preity Zinta and Rani Mukherjee have also influenced fashion trends, with Preity’s blue and beige outfit in Kal Ho Na Ho and the her classic Punjabi influenced outfits inVeer Zaara. Rani Mukherjee brought contemporary styling and smokey eyes in Chalte Chalte, and a heavily embroidered lengha in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.


Bollywood fashion trends are all about designer wear on and off the screen. Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra are very popular among Bollywood’s elite, but Kallol Datta, Anamika Khanna, Masaba, Anand Kabra and other designers are also emerging as favourites among fashion-aware actresses like Sonam Kapoor, Neha Dupia and Kareena Kapoor. Now if only the men would catch up on the fashion trends!

Images: Various Sources