When in India, do as the Indians do and invest in an ethnic wardrobe. This seems like a very daunting task when in reality all it takes is building a list and slowly investing in it. For starters, say you have a BFF‘s wedding coming up and she’s a special friend, no doubt you’d want to put your best foot forward. You’re likely to be inclined towards wanting a lehenga and with that comes a price. You ask yourself a few questions about Indianwear—Is this investment worth it? Will I be able to wear it again? How often can I wear this again? This is going to take up so much space in my closet! Tsk Tsk Tsk. I want to help you answer these questions because that’s just what I do, make lists and answer those hard fashion questions.

Here’s a list of clothing items to help you grow your ethnic wardrobe:

Salwar Kameez

Isn’t the salwar kameez an elegant wardrobe item? Pick flattering prints and colour combinations to work with your body type. I love Alia Bhatt‘s green ensemble so much because it’s a bandhani print and that fabric looks so luxe. It has such a fantastic fall on the body. Go for a monochromatic set because this is easier to repeat as separates in the future. You can pair your salwar with Patiala pants, palazzo pants, leggings, sharara pants and cigarette style pants.

Lehenga for your ethnic wardrobe

Take a cue from Sonam Kapoor on how to build an ethnic wardrobe. This gold foil lehenga is a dream come true and perfect for your bestie’s wedding. It stands out enough and really doesn’t take the spotlight away from the bride either. Again this outfit is versatile—I’d pair this skirt under a long kurta or this blouse with a black saree and this dupatta is a multi-faceted item anyway.


The iconic saree defines traditional dressing and is a classic must-have to build your ethnic wardrobe. It slims, tones and elongates the female form elegantly. It can also be part of one’s workwear if purchased in lighter fabrics.


It is always good to keep a few dupattas lying handy. I do tend to enjoy more handwoven pieces like the patola, phulkari, chanderi and net. Most times I buy a solid colour kurtas because of the amount of times it can be repeated. And it becomes an all-purpose item when paired with different types of dupattas and bottoms.


This functional piece looks great when paired with jeans and skirts. A go-to option for most college going girls and office going women. The kurta represents comfort and a sense of security and they look fantastic in bright tones.

Ethnic skirt

A nice ethnic skirt looks great when paired with a white shirt or a white gunjee. This item is the easiest to dress up and dress down at will. Pair it with a rich raw silk jacket to up the ante. Definitely a must-have basic for your ethnic wardrobe. This piece works well as a maxi and a midi length too. Once you get the basics in place you can also experiment with asymmetrical and dhoti style skirts too.

Silver jewellery for your ethnic wardrobe

Not just outfits but some jewellery too needs to be added to your ethnic wardrobe. Long silver necklaces look great with kurtas. Chokers and statement necklaces look fab on sarees and lehengas. Bangles, cuffs and rings work with anything to be fair and deserve to be paired with your ethnic clothes exactly the way you prefer. Jhumkis and chandballis look fantastic when paired with modern clothing too. So you can see how all this is worth investing in!

Juttis or Mojris

Open toe shoes always look best with Indian wear and because ethnic clothes can be tedious to wear the best thing to do is pair them with juttis or mojris that are flat and easy to wear. If you’re looking to add height to your look then opt for Kholapuri style wedges. Buy these with beaded detailing or even in gold and silver so they match anything you buy. Mojris also look great when worn with jeans, give it a try you won’t regret it.

Bags for your ethnic wardrobe

I love a good accessory to tie in my whole look together and yes, there are plenty of options out there these days. But I’m still so enamoured by the potli bag and how elegant it looks with an Indian outfit. You can also invest in a clutch or an antique silver mini bag. I also love how a traditional batwa looks and these days we have a modernised version of it too.

Truthfully, as I always say I could have added more options to this list, but these are the basic must-have items to build that grand ethnic wardrobe.

Which of these items do you already own? Be sure to follow @missmalinifashion on Instagram for more updates.