For occasions where a flat vest or a kurta on its own simply won’t do, nehru jackets have come in to fill in the gap and provide one more option in men’s formalwear, famously worn by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. This fitted jacket (also called the “band gale Ica coat”) traditionally features a Mandarin-style collar and a row of buttons down the front.
Read on to learn a few technical styling tips on how to wear and further elevate one of India’s most popular garments.
What Is a Nehru Jacket?
Nehru jackets are typically straight cut with a statuesque fit and can be the length of a regular Western fashion-style blazer or might extend down further to be hip-length. The achkan or sherwani might look similar, especially in collar jacket shapes, but the sherwani is typically longer.
Nehru jackets button up to the neck and feature a short vertical collar called a Mandarin collar. This collar belongs to a group called the stand-up collar. The Mandarin collar has since been renamed the Nehru collar and is an instantly recognizable part of this closed-neck jacket.
Sometimes, menswear attire might also wear a vest of a similar style, which could also frequently be called a jacket. Nehru jackets are common accessories at parties and other get-togethers where you might want to wear something a bit more formal than a simple kurta.
Nehru Jacket Materials
Nehru jackets can be constructed from many materials, just like lehengas, churidar pyjamas, and other traditional clothing pieces. Silk is one of the more common fabrics, thanks to how easy it is to digitally print on. Plus, its natural sheen only further accentuates any embroidered details.
Our Dusty Blue Silk Kurta and Nehru Jacket Set is a wonderful example of how embroidery and sequins can take this statuesque accessory from ordinary to downright dapper and suave.
How Should a Nehru Jacket Fit?
Nehru suit jackets should have a straight, structured silhouette and might be more form-fitting around the chest. Unlike kurta tops, they should not be bulky, voluminous, or flowing. Vests should also be more fitted. Generally speaking, the shorter the cut, the more fitted the garment should be in order to obtain a more flattering appearance.
Nehru Jacket Colors and Patterns
Just like women’s ensembles, Nehru jackets can come in an infinite number of colors, patterns, cuts, and designs. Whether you are dressing for a black tie occasion or in search of a festive summertime add-on, we’ve got more than a few options for you to choose from.
Our Black Printed Nehru Jacket and Drape Style Kurta Set is ideal for suave evening gatherings. A pair of straight-legged black silk pants is coupled with a flowing long-sleeve rayon kurta, while a white printed Nehru-style vest goes perfectly on top. The bronze vest buttons wrap over to the right side of the chest with a matching metalling vine pattern printed across the garment.
The Mint Jacquard Nehru Jacket Set is a remarkable example of first-class tailoring, offering a more structured, straight trim. White straight-legged trousers are paired with a solid, lightweight knee-length kurta; the Nehru vest is the perfect pop of color layered on top.
This intricately-woven mint green vest features golden and white designs with matching buttons fastening at the collar, allowing the rest of the vest to drape open. A small golden chain above the chest pocket ties the look together, taking this sleeveless piece from everyday to extra glam.
How To Wear a Nehru Jacket
Nehru jackets are layered over kurtas of all shapes and sizes. Some kurtas might be straight-cut, while others might be made of a more flowing fabric like rayon or chiffon. The best bottoms for a Nehru jacket look, regardless of what sort of kurta you opt for, is a pair of straight-legged trousers. Billowing, wide-legged pants might accidentally cancel out all the structure your jacket or vest provides and can also look a bit uneven.
As far as accessories are concerned, look for dapper, timeless, elegant pieces. Pocket squares, pocket watches with chains, and traditional pagris are all excellent ways to elevate your outfit further.
Nehru Jackets: Formal vs. Casual Occasions
Various aspects of a Nehru jacket can determine how formal or casual it is, including the other pieces it is paired with. Solid colors and everyday basics are great to mix and match together for more casual days. In contrast, woven jacquard or brocade fabrics adorned with hand sewn-patterns, sequins, and other threadwork are ideal for more formal gatherings.
Our Pink Nehru Jacket Set belongs in every man’s wardrobe. It’s a casual option that still offers a touch of structure and luxury while keeping you from looking too casual. Beige dhupioni silk trousers are matched with a light pink patterned kurta and a complimentary Nehru vest on top.
This subdued pattern and the classic row of gold buttons are stylish on their own and perfect for simple gatherings, but they can also be further accentuated with the right accessories.
For something a little more formal in a similar color palette, look no further than our Peach Floral Nehru Jacket Set. Peach silk straight-legged trousers layer with an elegant printed dhupioni silk kurta featuring deeper shades of peach and ivory. A similar pattern is woven across the Nehru jacket with additional floral accents in the foreground.
Accessories: The Pocket Square
For a touch of timeless, dapper style, reach for a pocket square. Pocket squares can be folded into several shapes or designs for a slight touch of flair, front and center of your look. General rules recommend that pocket squares match ties — for instance, a maroon pocket square would go with a maroon tie.
However, this is a very, very loose guideline, and many choose to ignore it these days. A navy blue pocket square with a maroon tie would be fabulous. Add in a lapel pin, perhaps, and you’re ready to go.
Pocket squares are more than fashion — they are also functional. They come in handy if you need to dab your (or a loved one’s) eyes at a funeral or wedding, blot away sweat after busting out on the dance floor, or if you happen to accidentally dribble your cocktail on yourself.
Nehru Jacket and Loafers
Loafers are another timeless way to take any look from ordinary to worthy of the boardroom or a wedding. If you want to top off your look with loafers, try sticking to more narrow-legged pants (or at least a pair with a fitted ankle at the base).
Otherwise, this stylish footwear choice might get totally lost within the fabric, and they will totally be lost. To complete this structured style, look for straight-cut kurta shirts, Nehru jackets with stately patterns, and classic accessories like pocket squares and turbans in rich hues.
Look Your Best in a Luxurious Nehru Jacket
No matter the fabric, color, or accessories you choose to match it with, a Nehru jacket is an easy way to take any look from simple to luxurious in a few more seconds. With an abundance of styles available for both men's and children's clothing, father and son can match for family photos, make a statement at festivals, and stand out this coming social season.
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru | Prime Minister of India
Silk Properties | University of the Arts London
‘Modi vest’ is the better known ‘Nehru jacket’, but the go-to formal wear predates both PMs | The Print