TGIF: All Women in Anarkalis! For the Women’s March Anniversary Tomorrow

Also, all women in pink!  Because I want to see if I can make joyomama’s head explode in the comments (for those who don’t know, regular commentator joyomama is a fashion historian who writes about gender color preference).  Oh, and also because I’ve gotten a couple of people pushing back against the standard TGIF.  So no objectification and no men and no SRK in this one!

Disclaimer: Fashion is not my area, so if I get something wrong, please please correct it in the comments!

An Anarkali is an outfit like this one:

Image result for madhubala mughal e azam

It’s a fitted top with a highwaisted full skirt below.  And below the skirt, leggings.  The skirt can be floor length or knee length or sometimes of uneven length.  There is usually a heavy thick border on the skirt and around the waist and neck, which both looks cool and helps it hang correctly.  It’s named after the historical “Anarkali”, the legandary dancing girl who Prince Salim fell in love with, Madhubala’s character from Mughal-E-Azam, so really I should have a picture of her instead of Mallika up there immitating her.  But I couldn’t find a good full length shot, the best I can do is this:

Image result for madhubala mughal e azam
Along with the leggings and long top/skirt combo, there is also usually a dupatta, because Indian women always have a dupatta, draped around somewhere.  Here’s Aditi almost swallowed by hers:

Image result for aditi rao hydari anarkali

Sometimes you will see this in the English language press described as a “dress”, and I guess maybe technically they are?  But they are thought of as more like a Salwar, you wouldn’t wear just an Anarkali without leggings, or at least it would be thought very odd, even if the same person would go out in a much shorter western style dress with nothing underneath.  They work especially well for dancing, the full skirt and weighted border swings nicely to accentuate steps, and the leggings provide modesty as the skirt spins.

So, on with the post!  Women in pink Anarkalis.  Starting with Madhuri, because I love her.  She is wearing a chiffon version, which is interesting because of all the layers int he skirt, and the embroidery which helps to weigh it down.

Image result for madhuri anarkali pink

Meena Kumari’s Anarkali is almost as famous as Madhubala’s.  And once again, is on a dancing-girl type character.  Anarkali’s don’t necessarily signify a woman of lower class, but they might, since they are what you would wear to dance in certain dancing traditions, and dancing-girl=sex worker. Notice Meena’s skirt is a little shorter, so you can admire the footwork and hear her anklets.

Image result for meena kumari anarkali pink


Sridevi comes from more of a Bharat-Natyam tradition if anything, so you wouldn’t expect her to dance in an Anarkali.  But she can wear the longer version and look lovely at an event.

Image result for pink anarkali sridevi

Juhi has been wearing Anarkali’s more and more as she ages.  And they look lovely on her, hiding any little slips and sags better than a sari would, and giving her a certain tall grace she wouldn’t normally possess.  This is an interesting variation, a lighter and slimmer skirt.

Image result for pink anarkali juhi chawla

Here’s a fuller skirt, but lower waist than usual.

Image result for pink anarkali juhi chawla

Aditi Rao Hydari is another one who wears a lot of Anarkalis.  I assume mostly because she likes them, but also because they look good on her very slight frame, better than a sari might which requires a fuller figure.

Image result for aditi rao hydari pink anarkali

She also looks great in pink!  Which lets me post many photos.  A double skirt on this one which makes it even more modest than the leggings alone would.

Image result for aditi rao hydari pink anarkali

This is a lovely classic formal version, complete with tight belted looking high waist, and very full skirt.  And of course dupatta.

Image result for aditi rao hydari pink anarkali

One thing about the Anarkali, there is so much fabric to it, that you have to be careful you are wearing it rather than it wearing you.  Alia, for instance, is a little too young and unsure to pull it off, I think.

Image result for alia bhatt pink anarkali

Fashionista Sonam Kapoor, on the other hand, pulls it off easily.

Image result for sonam kapoor pink anarkali

And with a lighter touch

Image result for sonam kapoor pink anarkali

And for a runway show.  Interesting variation here, the top is really a jacket with long skirt, and then a separate skirt underneath it.

Related image

Speaking fashionistas, check out Kareena in this floaty chiffon version, with a similar over and under skirt.

Image result for kareena anarkali pink

And for the un-fashionista side of things, I have long held a theory that Aishwarya isn’t actually that good of a dresser, she is just so beautiful that we don’t notice.  For instance, this Anarkali somehow doesn’t feel as good as it could be to me.

Image result for aishwarya rai pink anarkali

And this one is definitely off.

Related image

This might be the version I like best.

Image result for aishwarya rai pink anarkali

Katrina, similarly, I often find myself thinking she could be better dressed.  Like in this outfit, which in concept made sense, a slit up the side to allow her to dance, which after all was the purpose behind the original Anarkali design, just altered for a new style of dancing.  However, in practice, this is a disaster I think.

Image result for katrina kaif pink anarkali

Here’s Kangana doing a better job of showing how an Anarkali works in action.

Image result for Kangana Ranaut anarkali pink

Speaking of dancing, love this picture! Shabanaji showing how her Anarkali spins.

Image result for shabana azmi pink anarkali

I don’t think I can possibly top that last image, so I will end here.


Now, three questions to get the discussion started:

1.1. Who wore it best?

I’m going with Shabana, love the spin

Image result for shabana azmi pink anarkali


2. If you could only purchase one of these, which would you purchase?

I think I would go for Sonam’s.  I’d make the neck a little higher and add sleeves, but I love the rose embroidery and the fit and the drape.

Image result for sonam kapoor pink anarkali


3. Which of these would you LEAST like to purchase?

I would have to go with Katrina’s I think.  Very few people can pull of the slit skirt look, and I am not one of them.

Image result for katrina kaif pink anarkali

17 thoughts on “TGIF: All Women in Anarkalis! For the Women’s March Anniversary Tomorrow

  1. Won’t lie – I was disappointed when I saw that there won’t be men in today’s TGIF, but as soon as I saw Madhuri’s anarkali I changed my mind.

    Who wore it better?
    Sonam in this one with “with a lighter touch”

    I would buy:
    Madhuri’s outfit, and Aditi’s one with a skirt, and the next one to. Sorry can’t chose only one

    I wouldn’t buy:
    All 3 Aishwarya is wearing are bad, I never noticed that she has so poor taste in clothing.


    • Wait, which Aditi outfit? 1, 2, or 3? I am very interested!

      And yes! I spent years not noticing Aish’s bad taste, and then she had that awkward baby weight period, and suddenly I went “wait, I don’t think she can dress herself well”. Not that the baby weight was bad, but it meant she couldn’t wear every style of clothing equally, and she seemed to have no ability to adjust for that.

      On Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 4:02 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Do you remember Aish’s dress on Anushka’s wedding? I didn’t like it either – too boring, and “good girl” style.

        I was thinking about Aditi 2 & 3 :anarkali with a skirt (I absolutely love this kind of high neckline) and the photo just next to it – pink and gold.


        • Alia’s? I really don’t like that one. But maybe it is just that I don’t like it on Alia. I am sure you would wear it much better!

          On Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 4:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. I agree, Shabana wore it best. I would like to purchase Aditi’s second one, and I will wear it with the same accessories on an evening walk through a beautiful garden with my boyfriend Abhay Deol. And, I love Juhi, but the first Anarkali there is giving me Brady Bunch sofa vibes with the print.


    • I love your entire Aditi plan. It does somehow feel like a very Abhay Deol friendly outfit.

      Yeah, juhis maybe look like they were chosen partly for comfort and partly for appearance.


  3. Great TGIF! Thanks for switching gears this time:) The best is Sonam’s because she really is stunning in those high fashion versions of traditional clothes. And my personal favorite that I would buy would be Kareena’s. it’s so elegant and romantic. I really like all three of Aditi’s, especially the pink second pink one with the two tiered skirts. She’s also got a great sense of style like Sonam and looks good consistently. Stylists definitely have a big influence, but sometimes you can tell when actresses/celebs just have good taste and understand what looks best and is on trend.

    Aishwarya and Deepika both have terrible personal taste and it is reflected in a lot of their formal looks. Deepika is better at casual, but Aishwarya is terrible at both…she’s always dressed older than she is and her color choices. I actually think her baby weight period was when she must have got a better stylist because she generally started looking better (and did where a lot of anarkalis at that time) and her last few years at Cannes have been pretty flawless.


    • Sonam is kind of perfect for high fashion traditional now that I think about it. Tall so she can carry them off, but also still has the sort of build that looks right in a sari or an Anarkali. And a long neck that is perfect for showing off a dupatta.

      There were a few years when I was seeing Aish being covered at Cannes by the Western press and it was so FRUSTRATING. Because they were all in raptures about her “modern take on the sari”, when it was just the sort of Manish Malhotra high fashion that everyone wears and has for years, I don’t know why they expected her to show up on a red carpet in something like Indira Gandhi wore to give speeches. Especially because, in the great realm of high fashion saris, the ones she picked out tended to be not that interesting and not that flattering on her.

      On Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 8:26 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. To pull off an Anarkali successfully you should be tall.Alia lacks the necessary inches.At the same time you should not be -to put it delicately- top-heavy.Which explains why Sonam could carry it off successfully and Aish or Juhi for that matter couldn’t.Just a tiny difference in your cup size makes a huge difference visually. It is disconcerting to see you refer to its skirt.It’s merely a kameez with a high waist.And not all kameezes with a high waist deserve to be called an Anarkali.Shabana much I like her twirl, doesn’t qualify.


    • This is why I think Aditi is so smart to wear so many Anarkali’s, it’s the perfect style for her. Especially because it seems like to pull off a sari, you do need to be top-heavy.

      The mystery is how Madhuri manages to look good in both saris and Anarkalis, but I guess we just have to accept that as part of the Madhuri magic.

      On Sat, Jan 20, 2018 at 12:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • I love the look of Anarkalis, but whenever I look at prices, they are so expensive! More expensive than salwars or any other option it seems like. So I’ve never tried one myself, even though they look so pretty and so much easier to wear.

      Aditi looks amazing in her anarkalis, after this and Anushka’s wedding, she may be becoming my favorite fashionista.

      On Sat, Jan 20, 2018 at 8:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. Pingback: TGIF Index! Photos Photos Photos! | dontcallitbollywood

  6. Pingback: TGIF: Birthday Girl’s Pitted Against Each Other; Who Wore it Better, Preity or Urmila? | dontcallitbollywood

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