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Guest Blog Post: Bohemian Rhapsody Of The Indian Tunic Tops

What do the words ‘Indian tunic tops’ conjure up in your mind?

Something exotic and traditional, modern or contemporary, simple or over the top glamour? For me, it stood for a garment that lacked identity and personality- lost between a long blouse and a dress.

I was at design crossroads when it came to incorporating Indian tunic tops in my collection. It is a piece of clothing I haven't warmed to quickly, often put off by its mundane existence. 

When I started my womenswear brand, I intended it as a personal account of how central fashion is to me and the mapping out of my entrepreneurial journey. 

I love the quiet ceremony of designing pieces and find comfort in its routine. Drawing and creating has the magical ability to transport me away from the otherwise unceasing rondeau of daily existence.

Trend forecasting always precedes design, and it is no different for me. This aspect came into play in finalising the key pieces in my collection and the importance of Indian tunic top in my design vocabulary. 

Having attended the SS20 runways shows; it was apparent to me of a definite shift in the design sensibilities. Arguably, the overarching aesthetic theme this year was 'realistic' and 'wearable'. 

Behind this desire for a more classic wardrobe is the overwhelming impact of sustainability on the planet and environment. There is no denying the significant role of sustainable and ethical fashion in forecasting trends over the next decade.  

With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising to note that fashion runways were more commercial than usual, with a focus on classic legacy pieces like tunics rather than whimsical and artistic creations, which had the potential to dangerously slide towards the impractical. 

Seeing that it is such a flavour of the season garment in the global fashion context; it would be doltish on my part to ignore it in my collection.

One often needs to step away objectively to look at artistic ideas from a telescopic lens. The privilege of global exposure enables the genesis of fresh perspective and has fuelled me to look deeper within myself. Opening myself to the challenge of designing the Indian tunic tops has been a surprisingly beautiful experience. I have not only fallen in love with this garment, but it has also manoeuvred its way to being a wardrobe staple.

Indian tunic top or 'Kurti'; in the Indian subcontinent means 'collarless shirt'. It's adapted from the long tunics worn by the ancient Greeks to a more practical knee-length version of the present. 

In the neighbouring Arab world, this Indian tunic top transforms into a flowing garment short or long depending on the occasion and sensibilities of the wearer. Dramatic lyric batwing sleeves characterise it.

In the western world, the kaftan is the name given to this tunic. The kaftans have been gaining momentum as an alternative to a structured dress, forming an essential component of a summer wardrobe. 

Whatever the image may be; there is no denying this shift in our new standard has also led to a new way of thinking and dressing, making Indian tunic tops a pivotal component of every wardrobe.

One of the real hazards of the #StayAtHome directive is that we are all struggling to remember what day it is and be motivated to dress up.

I am looking for comfort in dressing; something which is easy to put on with the minimal effort and looks great too.

That comfortable piece of clothing for me is the Indian tunic top. The tunic works for all occasions – including those that take place within the confines of the house. I wear it for a video conference call with clients or a house party pub quiz with friends. Unlike the humble sweatpants, putting on a colourful Indian tunic top helps me find a semblance of my typical wardrobe without sacrificing any comfort.

The Indian tunic tops are a hybrid of the eastern and western sensibilities, paired effortlessly with jeans, trousers and skirts. I often describe it as fashion diversity, mixing two different spirits; European style with Indian silhouettes. 

With a wide range of tunics to choose from; it allows the wearer to step out of their comfort zone and opt for a statement accessory to keep the look edgy and experimental.

Nothing is right or wrong when it comes to style: it's about finding your way through it. 

Here is a list of the different ways in which I wear this very versatile Indian tunic top:  

Trousers – This simple staple combination can instantly make one look sharper and more considered. Minimalistic, stylish and effortless, this is thinking woman's trend, for those of us who want a look that says sophisticated but not a slave to the fashion trends.

The Bohemian Rhapsody range of jewellery works beautifully with this pairing. The Passage to India in silver earrings answers to the cultured woman's elegant needs. These earrings have a unique design with vintage patina romanticising the allure of exotic lands and hidden treasures. A relaxed, loose, silhouette covers a multiple of sins, with these chic earrings adding an element of interest and quirk.

Source: Coltrane, Passage to India by Glamandglo & Butea Potli Bag by Dina Udupa

Source: Gosto Disto, Vogue Spain & Sacai

Jeans – 

With so much talk of high-octane glamour, it's easy to forget the woman who is so confident in her stride that excess is never an ingredient in her style recipe. The prevalence of teaming Indian tunic top with jeans points to sobriety that will not tolerate fashion's mercurial fluctuations. 

Coupling this trend with Bollywood dreams earrings beautifully plays on the boho-chic fashionista in all of us. 

Source: Bollywood dreams by Glamandglo & Pinterest

Source:, Cultura Colective & Saka Ivory Gold Tunic by Dina Udupa

Skirts – Although this isn't the most expected pairing, it truly is a match made in fashion heaven. I wanted a feeling of subversive femininity with this combination in mind, that idea of something undone and mixing very cool things.

SS20 catwalks showed black is back in a big way, and it's anything but boring. It's a logical progression for an item that never goes out of style. 

An offbeat pairing deserves an avant-garde piece of jewellery. Nothing speaks that language better than the Tassel glam earrings. The earrings come in a variety of colours to choose from so plenty of options at hand. 

The tassel earrings can quickly transform outfits and make them look dressed up or down depending on the time and occasion. 

Source: Tassle glam earrings by Glamandgo & Ganga Rawcheck Tunic by Dina Udupa

 Source: Shantima, Hyke Tokyo & RawMango

As Iris Apfel famously said ‘there is no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and above all, attitude’.  


Dina Udupa is the designer of her London based eponymous women’s wear brand. With a career in fashion spanning the globe, she recently launched her luxury brand: a concept that combines a love of the opulent, mystical designs of my native India, infused with a passion for travel and cultural exploration. Dina Udupa is a celebration of luxurious fabrics in simple, elegant design forms.