By Jeremy Brian

Last year, when I bought my first Nehru Jacket, the well-intentioned compliments ranged from, “Are you supporting the Aam Aadmi Party,” to, “My grandfather used to wear one of those.” A lot can change in a year.

The current trend in menswear is witnessing a resurgence of Indian waistcoats, available in a burst of colours and styles, without the clichéd old-school staidness. They are no longer the domain of the older generation, or relegated to formal occasions like weddings and family parties. Young Indians are adopting this classic piece of clothing, and adding their own signature to make it an everyday style statement. These smart jackets have found their way back into the wardrobes of Delhi men, and the women don’t seem to mind. 

What is a Nehru Jacket?

A sleeveless, hip-length jacket with a high, Chinese collar, and a full vertical opening in the front, fastened by buttons. Inspired by the 15th Century silk waistcoats of the Persian Empire, and the high collared coats of the Ming Dynasty, Indian men have adorned waistcoats for centuries. The Nehru Jacket as we know it today was popularised by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Initially referred to as a Band Gala {closed neck coat}, the Nehru Jacket slowly became a symbol of class and formality in post-colonial India.

Why Are They Suddenly So Popular?

Waistcoats have the same affect on a man’s body as a corset on a lady. Thankfully, we are not required to fasten it with tight bands. It is essential, however, to find a jacket that is fitted for your body. It pulls the gut in, and provides the lift to a man’s posture required to create the illusion of the slim silhouette – broad shoulders and a slim waist.

These jackets lends an air of formality to a man’s attire, without the stuffiness of a suit and tie. Akshat Singh, co-founder of MR Button, a company that is redefining Indian wear for men, says, “Nehru Jackets are the most popular item on our website, not just in India, but with our international customers as well.”

How do you wear it?

nehru-jackets-where-to-buy Nehru Jackets | Eastern Chic, Modern Minimalism

Because it is a close-fitting garment, the sizing has to be more accurate than other garments. Unlike a classic suit, these jackets do not have to be the same fabric and colour as your trousers. The colour choice is no longer restricted to black and navy. You can choose between different fabrics, single or double breast cuts, and extra detailing on the collars and front plackets.

Pair it with formal trousers, or  jeans and shirts. For a relaxed Indian look, wear it over a long kurta, or an overshirt and linen pants. In the summer, you can go from casual to smart-casual by adding a jacket to your t-shirt and shorts ensemble. I wear mine with a pocket square, and the bottom and top button undone.

Where should I start looking for one in Delhi?

FabIndia offers a line of plain Nehru Jackets in solid colours. These are great during the day, but for fancier occasions, MR Button has a better selection of styles and cuts. Alternatively, your local tailor will be happy to oblige. Since Nehru Jackets have their origins in this country, most tailors are well-versed with the nuances of cut, fabric and finish.

Semi-Custom: MR Button, read more here 

Stores and Labels for Ready-Made Nehru Jackets | 

FabIndia, read more here 

Suket Dhir, find out more here. 

Dev r Nil, find out more here.

Dhruv Sehgal, find out more here.

Tailored |

D Vaish & Sons, 35, Aurobindo Place, DDA Shopping Complex; Contact: 011  26513065

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