The Indian Scarlett O’Hara

I’ve always been intrigued by Scarlett. I was about 14 when I read Gone with the Wind, and every essay henceforth was either based on the book, or the character, including the one I wrote in my board exams.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Scarlett’s sartorial sensibilities have made their way into my aesthetics, and have inspired some (if not all) of my creations.

Scarlett was bold and knew what she’d look good in. She dressed to highlight her best features – like when she wore green to compliment her catty eyes the time she met Rhett in jail, or when she pulled her dress just a tad lower to show off her fair shoulders. She was proud of her tiny waist – achieved no doubt by a rib crunching corset (the concept of which I disagree with – fashion should not be injurious to health; though not the intention – which was to highlight her best feature), and she didn’t give a damn what the world thought of her – whether it was dancing in the black crepe of mourning with a strange man, or riding a buggy to oversee business with the Yankees.

Scarlett was strong, beautiful and she knew how to work her strengths to her advantage. This outfit is built on that sentiment – take what’s best about you and enhance it to the moon. This outfit draws attention to the waist – “upper” waist mind you, while covering the problem areas – tummy, love-handles, thighs and hips with a flared, multi-layered skirt.

Polka Dotted Cotton Lehenga | Designed and Illustrated by Shivani Krishan | Chai High is an Indian Fashion Blog started by Shivani Krishan | This illustration has also been shared on Shivani Krishan's Instagram handle - chai_high_illustrated

A long, flared gown with layers of lace and frills underneath, is the starting point for my lehenga design. I’ve replaced the corset with a tiny draped choli that lets you breathe (Thank God for little pleasures), and shows off your midriff. An Indian style dupatta with gota motifs completes the look.

In terms of fabric, I’m imagining pure woven cotton – polka dots for the outfit, solid white for the frills and petticoat. Perfect for brides who’d rather avoid bling.

The hair is kept short and jewellery is traditional Indian gold. The illustration is almost a creation of a new sensibility, one that brings the aesthetics of the west and marries it with the silhouettes of the east.

Scarlett may have taken self-preservation a bit too far. But she certainly knew how to rock a trend. Let’s learn from her the art of dressing, as well as resolve never to make the mistakes she made.

If you haven’t read the book, you can buy it here.

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