Building The Right Trousseau for the Indian Bride

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Weddings are steeped in ceremony, and the bridal trousseau is a big part of wedding traditions. Not just a frivolous collection of things, the trousseau has a long, winding history behind it. Many centuries ago, families would fill wooden chests up with new dresses, jewellery, household items, money, decor, and sundry gifts and necessities that she would use on her wedding day, and for her new life as a married woman. At the time, a large trousseau was symbolic of familial wealth and social status, but that significance of the gift doesn’t hold much weight anymore.

What is a Bridal Trousseau?

Today’s trousseau for the Indian bride consists of several of the same things as the early days, and a few extras — gleaming jewels from the family, saris and other outfits to tide the newly-wed over, accessories to make her look great, lingerie, and other objects that she holds dear. These can also include decor, household ornaments, and heirlooms from the family.

Many brides wonder when is a good time to start preparing the trousseau hamper. The earlier you get to it, the better. The process of searching for the right objects, curating your favourites, and purchasing them from multiple outlets is more time-consuming than you may think, and getting a head start right after your engagement works best. The most exciting bit about the trousseau is that it keeps changing over time to accommodate new events, needs, and ideas you think of as time passes. Making lists is a great way to start, and helps in keeping track of what’s missing too. Your mother plays a crucial role in shaping your bridal trousseau!

Every bride is unique, so would her accoutrements be. Fortunately, there is no one size fits all, and every woman’s likes, dislikes, and general preferences figure into the making of a fantastic trousseau: a wedding stylist could help with that. We love that it has evolved with the times, and here is a guide to some inclusions you can make to your all-new paraphernalia while keeping the sanctity of traditions intact.

A Mix Of Indian And Western

Choose a happy mix of Indian and western wear, both. Restricting yourself to just Indian wear may serve you during the main ceremonies and your wedding celebrations, but might leave more to be desired after it. Life beyond the wedding day has plenty of occasions that call for western wear, so it’s imperative to get a good number of these into the trousseau.

Some classic styles in both casual and smart western ensembles are great — think cocktail dresses, everyday and dressy blouses, well-fitted pants, and all-purpose blazers. Even Indian wear can range from the weighty, embellished outfits to light shararas, fusion coord sets, new-age kurta and trousers, and other conceptual looks. With these essentials on hand, you’ll feel ready to take on anything that life throws at you, with confidence.

Include Experimental Lighter Outfits

Heavier outfits such as kanjivaram saris, lehengas, and the like will automatically make their way to your trousseau, but be mindful about lighter outfits that are unconventional and fun to wear. These lighter ensembles like embroidered jackets, capes, fusion dresses, light suits, swinging shararas and hybrid saris and jumpsuits will keep you going for functions that call for dressy attire, or even happy outings with your new husband.

These outfits are also generally a lot more useful for after the big day, or any follow up dinners and get-togethers after the wedding. These outfits usually come in handy more than the heavy ones.

Heirloom Jewellery

Brand new is exciting for everyone, but carrying precious family history and traditions breeds a different kind of joy. With a bit of searching, brides can find a variety of heirlooms with their mothers, and grandmothers, and if they’re lucky, they may chance upon some very lovely vintage things. Go through the closets of your beloved matriarchs, and see their collection of retro things. Things crafted in their time was finely made for longevity, so there is plenty that brides can borrow for their weddings.

Jewellery is an obvious way to include family valuables in your trousseau, but anything from retro silk saris, lace table runners, antique decor pieces, brooches, and beautifully crafted hair clips from decades ago counts. Heirlooms in your trousseau allow you to carry with you the love and care of your ancestors and begin a tradition of your own, for your offspring.

Beauty Essentials

In the excitement of new clothes and accessories, it’s easy to forget about skincare and beauty. Investing in good products for your skin is crucial since it’s what people see the most and nothing quite beats inner beauty. But don’t follow trends blindly — every person is different with their own needs, so consult a dermatologist and stock up on the serums, moisturisers, and toners that you need.

In addition to skin care, a bride needs the right makeup with her. This, too, is hugely subjective, but it helps to include vegan, hypoallergenic, and cruelty free brands to make your vanity a responsible one. Scope out shades and hues you’ll need for any foreseeable events: think dewy brunch looks, deeper and shinier dinner beauty, or earthier tones.

Classic Bags And Accessories, And Some Fun Pieces

Accessories maketh the outfit, which is why bags and other trimmings should make up a big part of the wedding goodies. When it comes to handbags, opt for classic styles which are evergreen and will never go out of style: think Chanel Boy Bags or Louis Vuitton Capucines. Going designer is an individual choice, and if that’s not for you, then remember to include timeless shapes like a top handle, a flap, a tote, a small satchel, and a minaudiere for black tie events.

Accessories like shades are a must, but also scarves, several types of shoes (think kitten heels, stilettos, flats, slides, and sneakers, according to the bride’s preference), and wearable jewellery can’t be missed. Heavyweight jewels must be balanced with more minimal precious fare so that the bride isn’t left without pieces for her everyday needs.

Home Decor And Knick Knacks

A house becomes a home when it’s filled with decor and ornaments that make it cozy and beautiful. While it’s impossible for a bride to carry with her every single home accessory that she wishes to adorn her new house with, a few stand out pieces should be a part of her trousseau.

We love the idea of including a few good quality soy candles for a scented home, vintage lace table runners, linen for your beds, and crystal pieces from your family home in the trousseau. Apart from beautifying your abode, it adds a sense of homeliness and comfort that few other things can provide.

Play With Colour

Every bride has a distinctive aesthetic, which points to certain color palettes and hues that she leans towards more often than not. If you like earthy tones, gather pieces in shades like olive green, rust, camel, greys, browns, and caramels, and buy complementary pieces with every other one. Lovers of pastels can pick the usual suspects: beiges, blush tones, sky blues, seafoams, and peaches.

Feel free to mix and match palettes with each other: a pastel pink handbag would look fabulous with a bright pink outfit, and monotones like black and creams could do with a pop of red somewhere in the look. Play with colours, but smartly, so that everything complements each other beautifully in your trousseau.

Honeymoon Essentials

Apart from wedding lingerie, there’s a lot a bride needs for the honeymoon. Take into account which location you’re jetsetting to, what the weather is going to be, and how you want to dress on the vacation. Holiday dressing is not like regular dressing, so a few extra pieces wouldn’t hurt for this.

A beach honeymoon calls for swimsuits, coverups, kaftans, and floaty pants and camis, while a wintry one would require one or two good coats, cute sweaters, boots, warmer t-shirts, hats, and a few woolen dresses with tights, if you want to look cute in the chilly weather. So, remember to get these looks in the trousseau too!

With these handy guidelines, it’s time for you, bride-to-be, to go forth and shop your heart out for your special gift. Trousseau shopping is done better with overarching style tips, rather than specific pieces, since the tradition is so personal and dependent on a bride’s individual preferences.

There is a lot to remember while putting a trousseau together, and while the process is fun, it can be time consuming too. Finding the right pieces takes effort, and curating them also requires a practiced eye. If trousseaus have got you in a tizzy, let CLAD do it for you. Our wedding styling services include impeccable trousseau building, and our international reach allows us to give you the latest designer pieces before they hit Indian shores. Contact us for more details about our services.

*This article was written by Fawzia Khan, Creative Features Editor at CLAD