Lehenga and ghagra fashion are two of the more popular forms of dress for women in India. These two styles can look very similar, even if you’re well-acquainted with traditional Indian dress.
Because they look so alike, many people do not know that lehengas and ghagras are two different garments. As experts in blending traditional Indian apparel with modern style, we’re here to make the difference clear.
What Is a Ghagra?
The ghagra, and its counterpart, the lehenga, are two different pieces of traditional Indian outfits. The full name for a ghagra outfit is "ghagra choli," which is a two-piece dress.
A choli is a blouse, which can come in many different styles. A choli can have any type of neckline or sleeve length, as well as unique embroidery. The choli in a ghagra choli tends to be long, leaving very little midriff exposed. The ghagra-specific portion of a ghagra choli is a skirt that tends to be loose and flowing.
Lightweight, printed, and dyed fabrics are the most popular choices for ghagra dresses. Cotton, silk, and other high-quality materials are often dyed to create vibrant patterns and color combinations. These natural fabrics take dye well in the same way that natural dyes get you more eye-catching colors.
The ghagra is a more casual, everyday garment than the lehenga choli. In addition, ghagras are usually less elaborate and embellished than lehengas. In recent years, however, more luxurious ghagras for parties and festivals have become more popular.
What Is a Lehenga?
The lehenga choli is similar to the ghagra, but there are a few important differences between the two.
Unlike the ghagra choli, the lehenga choli includes a shorter blouse that exposes more of the midriff. You’ll also find a wider variety of fabrics used to make the lehenga choli. That’s because this type of traditional Indian outfit can be worn for many different occasions.
Lehenga cholis are also often paired with a dupatta, a type of shawl that can be wrapped or pinned as a stylish accessory. The dupatta can elevate your outfit by adding a pop of color or an eye-catching pattern to the mix.
The lehengas, cholis, and dupattas that you would wear together also tend to be made with elaborate embroidery patterns. Stonework, zari, and beautiful threading are all common for this type of apparel.
It should come as no surprise that lehengas exist for the most formal of occasions. You might see lehengas worn at weddings by guests — or even the bride — and for festival or party attire.
What Are the Differences Between the Ghagra and the Lehenga?
The difference between the ghagra and the lehenga boils down to the following:
- Coverage: In terms of general shape, the lehenga and ghagra are very similar. Both are two-piece dresses with floor-length skirts. The former, however, is more fitted and exposed, while the latter gives you more coverage. This makes the ghagra better for daily wear, both for modesty and sun protection.
- Embroidery: Both pieces tend to feature beautiful embellishments. The elaborate designs you see for festival and bridal attire are more of what you’d expect from a lehenga. Ghagras are usually more casual.
- Setting: The simpler fabrics and embroidery of ghagra make them more fitting for daily use. Elaborate lehenga cholis are better for festive events or going out. However, every ghagra and lehenga is different, so you can easily find an outfit in either style that fits the occasion.
There is one final difference between ghagra and lehenga: Right now, Lashkaraa only produces lehengas. Luckily, this gorgeous traditional dress looks wonderful on any special occasion. In a lehenga, you can look your best whenever it matters most.
With the difference between the two pieces explored, let’s look at some specific outfits. This will help highlight what makes lehengas unique and showcase why they have the staying power they do.
Style 1. Light Peach Heavy Embroidered Net Lehenga
Let’s start our list with a lehenga designed with one of the most formal ceremonies in mind: A wedding.
The Light Peach Heavy Embroidered Net Lehenga shows what is possible when a single color and theme are combined with grace and style. The white net top offers a subtle contrast to the beautifully intricate peach embroidery. The skirts have a multi-layered look that shows off the elaborate embroidery.
The heavy thread, sequins, and stonework create a gorgeous blend that catches the eye with a feeling of subtle, understated elegance and charm. A net dupatta with embroidery to match the blouse adds an extra bit of flair to the ensemble.
The light peach color pairs perfectly with modest jewelry in warm tones. You can use a statement ring or a pair of earrings to make this outfit stand out even more.
Style 2. Off-White and Hot Pink Organza Lehenga
For our next lehenga, we have a bold floral option for warm-weather activities.
With contrasting colors, the Off-White and Hot Pink Organza Lehenga has a flowy, ethereal look and a creative blend of softer and bolder colors.
The blouse is made from luxe raw silk with a satin inner layer that makes this lehenga one of the most comfortable skirts you’ll ever wear. The silk beautifully displays gold-colored zari embellishments, making for a red-and-gold dream.
The bright splashes of flowers on the off-white skirt and dupatta soften the outfit with a gentle, sweet allure. Thanks to a simple combination of pieces, you end up with a perfect lehenga for special occasions — especially in the summer.
Pair it with red, white, or bronze-colored jewelry to complement the outfit's vibrant colors.
Style 3. Yellow Mirror Embroidered Organza Lehenga
Mirror work is a design technique with a rich history. The oldest known mirror in existence is thousands of years old, but mirror work could be almost as old! That means that when you wear this mirror embroidered lehenga, you’re taking part in history.
Mirror work is a way to create a shimmering, beautiful, geometrical embroidery pattern. You only need to take a look at the Yellow Mirror Embroidered Organza Lehenga to understand what we mean.
The piece comes as part of Lashkaraa's "Desert Princess" collection, invoking the desert's mysterious allure and beauty with rich, intricate attire. The bold yellow color here is inspired by sunflower fields and rays of sunlight.
The choli is cropped and sleeveless, featuring a sweetheart neckline that’s perfect for spring and summer days. Detailed handworked mirrors cover the skirts and bodice, including the straps. The organza lehenga is the same color as the choli to give this outfit a cohesive look.
A floral motif carries the lehenga, where sequined flowers turn into a dazzling kaleidoscope in the sun. An organza dupatta, enhanced by a spray of Mukesh, finishes out the piece.
Style 4. Lavender Embroidered Net Lehenga
A different type of flower and another embroidery technique define the next dress on this list. The Lavender Embroidered Net Lehenga is an elegant approach to party attire that's bright and blooming.
The net blouse and santoon inner create a two-toned neckline. The sheer neckline is also accentuated by floral threadwork, which you’ll see throughout the entire outfit. That rich, luxurious lavender color makes you want to find an occasion special enough to wear this lehenga.
The lehenga itself is made from organza with a santoon inner to create a sunlight-catching drape. Zari, threads, sequins, and stonework all come together to create a lavender garden of a dress.
As with all the pieces on this list, the Lavender Embroidered Net Lehenga is made in India and checked by hand. This allows us to keep our apparel traditional and as high-quality as possible.
Style 5. Emerald Green Sequins Embroidered Lehenga
A lehenga separates itself from a ghagra with its glamorous style. This is best showcased by our Emerald Green Sequins Embroidered Lehenga.
Sparkling sequins on both the choli and the lehenga make you think of a deep evergreen forest. The sequins vary in size to give the whole piece a mesmerizing textured look.
The net dupatta included in this outfit features similar sequin work on the hem and adds an ethereal quality to the look. The end result is an outfit with depth, allure, originality, and endless style.
The Bottom Line
Lehenga and ghagra fashion both have their place. Ghagra style is more modest, ideal for conservative occasions and everyday apparel. However, your lehenga is what you want to wear to a wedding, a party, a festival, or any other very special occasion.
Whether they’re holidays, weddings, festivals, or anniversaries, there are always big moments around the corner. With Lashkaraa, you can easily find the perfect new addition to your wardrobe for the days you’ll never forget.