November 29, 2021

What is a Lehenga?

1. What is a Lehenga?
2. Lehenga Background, History & Origin
3. The Making of A Lehenga - Process, Fabric & All
4. Lehenga Fabric Types
5. Lehenga Embroidery Work
6. Different Lehenga Types & Styles
7. Hottest Lehenga Styles & Design Trends
8. How/When to Wear A Lehenga
9. The Lehenga Remains Popular & Appealing

The Lehenga is one of the most famous dresses to come out of the Indian subcontinent. Lehenga is a three-piece ensemble consists of the actual lehenga, a long ankle-length skirt, a well-fitted blouse top known as the choli, and a scarf to drape around the outfit, known as the dupatta.

Wide Lehenga Choli Design

Wide Lehenga Choli Design with Cancan

Women and girls of all classes and ages love to adorn their beautiful bodies in beautiful lehenga dresses. The dress usually features several patterns and styles and designs that may often be indicative of the outing or event for which it is worn. This post details everything we know about the lehenga from the history to the making, styles, trends, as well as how/when to wear a lehenga, among other things.

Lehenga Background, History & Origin

The Lehenga Choli is believed to have been introduced into India during the legendary Mughal Empire era rule. While the exact timing is not sure, this is believed to have occurred sometime during the 10th century.

Not long after the introduction of the lehenga into Indian fashion culture, the attire soon became a hit among royals as the unofficial royal attire. However, members of the public also soon began wearing the lehenga with the dress eventually gaining mainstream acceptance beyond the palace.

Today, across India, Pakistan, and a host of other South Asian countries, the lehenga has become a key fashion item that women can’t do without.

From being a dress mainly worn by royals, the lehenga has become a standard dress for many women across the Indian subcontinent worn on several occasions from weddings to birthdays, graduations, and more.

Lehenga Choli Embroidery

Lehenga Choli in Heavy Embroidery

However, it’s important to point out that today’s lehenga has come a long way from what was worn in the early days. While the basic elements that make a lehenga a lehenga remain the same, the stitching style, embroidery, and even the variety of fabrics used, have evolved.

The Making of A Lehenga - Process, Fabric & All

Wondering how lehengas are made?

The design process of the lehenga has undergone several changes over time.

During the early stage, women from higher social classes wore lehenga choli dresses made mainly from royal fabrics. Others often have to make their lehenga from khadi and cotton fabrics. The 19th and 20th centuries, however, saw the highest evolutions and adaptations of the lehenga.

States like Gujarat started incorporating patchwork and mirror-work into lehenga designs while Kundan work and Gota Patti embroidery started from Rajasthan lehenga designs. The main takeaway from here is that different states and regions from Pakistan to India have different variations of lehenga that are influenced greatly by their cultural heritage.

Lehenga Fabric Types

There are different types of lehenga fabric for different seasons, events, locations, and more. Some of these are highlighted below;

  • Silk lehenga: silk fabric lehenga fabrics are classy and beautiful, they are great for weddings, winter, and more.
  • Brocade lehenga: these lehenga types have a vibrant, traditional, and rich vibe to them. Pink, orange, and red brocade fabric are super great for weddings too!
  • Velvet lehenga: like silk, velvet lehengas are perfect for winter weddings. Because the velvet fabric is a rich material, even minimal embroidery and handwork will look very much mesmerizing.
  • Lace/net lehengas: while these are commonly used for weddings, net lehengas seem to be more common. Both of these are light and suitable for when you don’t want heavy lehengas. They are great for women with most body shapes since they’ll hardly add more to their volume.
Lehenga in Green Color

Beautiful Lehenga in Green Color

Lehenga Embroidery Work

Since lehengas give room for virtually unlimited style and design options, you can easily choose from embellished or embroidered lehengas as well as from lehengas with handwork.

Whether it’s a wedding or something else, you might also be able to incorporate or combine several design elements to make your dress stand out even more.

Heavy fabrics like silk and velvet are always the best if you want heavy embroidery. Heavy embellishments like beadwork and zardosi, however, might not be that great on light lehenga fabrics like chiffon or georgette, especially when the designs are highly detailed.

Lehenga for Weddings

Designer Lehenga for Weddings

Different Lehenga Types & Styles

There are many variations of the lehenga choli.

However, the three (3) most prominent types include the;

  • Sharara,
  • Ghagra, and
  • Lacha, among others.

While the sharara includes a lehenga ensemble made up of a kurta, dupatta, and a long blouse that’s fitted till the knee length from where it then spreads out like a skirt, the lacha’s main variable is its blouse that’s often designed to go down to the knees.

The ghagra style of lehenga choli is more common in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

While the regular lehenga is usually designed to fit the body, the ghagra usually has many creases and might often feature vibrant embroideries, beads, crystals, and mirror-work, among others. 

That said, below are some of the most prominent styles and designs of the lehenga choli as we know it;

  • Saree Style Lehenga: This style of lehenga is usually flared and the dupatta is draped around the outfit in a way similar to a saree.
  • Straight Cut Lehenga: This style of lehenga comes with a lehenga skirt that’s designed to be straight, without any flare. They pair very nicely on diverse body types and even with designer blouses and crop tops.
  • A-line Lehenga: These lehengas are popular at parties, sangeet, haldi, and other types of occasions. They are cut in an angle that looks like the letter “A.”
  • Sharara Cut Lehenga: Sharara lehengas usually feature long skirts fitted to the knees and then flared out and might also include nicely designed palazzos as well.
  • Jacket Style Lehenga: This style of lehenga adds a jacket (usually long and loosely flowing) to the jacket. The jacket often features fine detailing and light embroidery.
  • Paneled Lehenga: These lehengas include panels added at the hemline usually to add volume to the lehenga’s flare.
  • Fishtail Lehenga: This is also called the mermaid lehenga because of its flared-out fish-style design in the lower end. Great if you’re looking for a lehenga to accentuate your curves!
Lehenga Design in Flashy Color

Lehenga Design in Vibrant Color

Hottest Lehenga Styles & Design Trends

The thing about lehengas is that while they are evergreen and never go out of style, several trends and subtle changes tend to show up from time to time.

If you’re currently in the market for one or more lehenga choli dresses and would like to cop some trendy and in-vogue lehenga dress designs, below are some of the hottest trends in the scene right now;

  1. Dupatta trends: The dupatta is getting a totally new meaning with different styles and designs popping up lately from pre-attached dupattas to double dupatta, dupatta with contrasting colors and designs as well as belted dupattas, among others.
  2. Bridal lehengas: Bridal lehengas are always in vogue and their classic colors of red, maroon, blue, and more are always trendy. However, pastel shades of lehengas have also become quite popular for not just weddings but also regular occasions.
  3. New choli cuts: Cholis appears to be getting redesigns with several new styles such as high-lows, half-cap sleeves, sleeveless cholis, criss-cross halter, and more, entering the scene.
  4. Peplum tops: Recently, we’ve started seeing more peplum tops in beautiful embroideries (simple and heavy) being paired with the lehenga. These tops are narrow at the top and flare out just before the waist.
  5. Layered lehengas: We’re beginning to see more layered lehengas from designs that include a heavily embroidered top over a plain one to those incorporating different layer colors and shades into the mix.
Lehenga in Net Fabric

Lehenga Choli in Net Fabric

How/When to Wear A Lehenga

How do you wear a lehenga? For what occasions are a lehenga most suitable?

This section answers these and more questions regarding how and when to wear a lehenga for the ultimate killer look.

You can decide to wear your lehenga in several ways depending on the occasion and whatever look you’re trying to achieve. A lehenga with a shirt, for instance, can be a great fit for sangeet parties, birthday parties, and other casual or festive occasions.

It’s also possible to wear your lehenga with a jacket and Kurti, with crop top and jacket, peplum tops, and more. The dupatta can also be styled in a variety of ways from adding a belt to it to pinning it up in a variety of ways.

Also, you can pair your lehenga with the right accessories and pieces of jewelry to match. Just don’t go overboard with accessories.

Lehengas are perfect for most occasions whether it’s a Sangeet, Indian wedding, or Nikah, graduation, dinners, casual outings, etc.

The lehenga still retains much of the love it’s been enjoying since it was first introduced during the 10th century. And while much of what we have today has undergone several evolutions from what it once was, the basic elements remain the same.

Lehenga for Women in Green

Best Selling Lehenga for Women in Green

Urban motifs, new embroidery designs, latest fashion design techniques, and Indo-western influences, continue to define new lehenga choli styles and trends. And because of the simplicity, versatility, and elegance of these dresses, they’re always guaranteed to have a place in the hearts (and in the wardrobe) of most women with a thing or two for ethnic dresses of either Indian or Pakistani origins.

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