Saris in neon shades to palazzos with kurtis, designers offer pointers on dressing up for the festive season.

Should you show restraint or give in to splurging? With Dasara and Deepavali in a few days from now, there’s a lot being peddled in the name of fashion, from lightweight saris in neon colours to sheer anarkalis, sari-gowns to palazzos with ethnic tops. Going by the variety, it’s easy to make indulgent purchases and regret two seasons later. Designers offer help on choosing festive wear that’s in vogue and yet sensible.

Since festive occasions mostly demand that you step out in lehangas, saris or half-saris to meet extended family members, the fashion industry has options that will make you stand apart from the crowd. At the Delhi Couture Week and India Bridal Fashion Week, saris got a makeover. Saris in neon shades of shocking green, pink and blue apart, there was the curious sari-gown silhouette that caught attention. Falguni and Shane Peacock, Gaurav Gupta and Monisha Jaisingh were some of the designers who combined the drape of the sari with a more practical zipped-up gown. Targeted at a clientele that’s not acclimatised to saris, these sari-gowns were pitted as the ideal choice for youngsters who don’t want to worry about the sari being held in place.

Cholis of saris and lehengas have gotten longer, with some designers replacing blouses with jackets. “Two seasons ago, everything was under-size with short kurtas and short blouses. Now we’re going through a phase of over-sized blouses styled like jackets,” says Shravan.

Designer Vyshanavi Reddy feels longer blouses/jackets are practical. “Besides being ideal for the nippy weather in the evenings, the longer blouses also help do away with cumbersome draping of dupattas,” she says.

Shilpa Reddy and Masaba Gupta’s recent collections had saris teamed up with sheer jackets and deconstructed tuxedo jackets respectively. Tarun Tahiliani replaced the traditional sari blouse with a corset. Shravan’s collection for Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2013 had lehangas in classy cuts. “There’s a lot of emphasis on the volume of the lehanga,” he says. Shravan vouches by khadi, mulls and cottons.

The festive season is also the time when older women, comfortable in saris, have an edge over the younger lot. “The kanjeevarams, Banarasis, Sambhalpur, Chanderi saris are regal,” says Shravan.

Chanderi saris in bright shades and Banarasis are being picked up for evening wear. “There’s a lot of interest in Banarasi weaves, with subtle work done by traditional kaarigars,” says Nirmala Lahoti of Sarang. “Lightweight saris in khadi-cottons, silk-nets and cotton-mulls with traditional motifs from Benaras are classy,” she adds.

Meanwhile, the anarkalis are still around in the retail sector. But exercise caution before buying one. Not every anarkali flatters every body type. Pay attention to fabric, the cut and if possible, opt for custom-made anarkalis. “Short women can opt for floor-length anarkalis provided there isn’t a contrasting border. Instead, a hint of lace at the neck or sleeve would be ideal. I’ve seen short women carrying off floor-length anarkalis with high heels quite well,” says Vyshnavi.

Moving away from voluminous outfits, Vyshanvi suggests long kurtas in straight cuts that can be worn with slim pants and short kurtas with patialas. Shravan also roots for smart ethnic tops with palazzo pants, shararas and ghararas. As Shravan sums up, “You don’t need to spend a fortune to look fashionable. Pick up things that suit your body type; make purchases that you can mix and match and use over time.”