The tale of the Tulip

Until fashion grad school, the only tulip flower inspired clothing item that I knew about was the ‘Tulip skirt’. Let me brief you guys a little more on this first before heading on to the ‘Tulip Pant’.

The tulip skirt is basically characterized as a skirt cinched at the waist, with extra fabric around the hips and a tapered hemline; almost as if resembling an inverted tulip.

In the mid-twentieth century, legendary French designer Christian Dior created dresses with small waists and full hips, and his 1953 collection was dubbed “Tulip”. The tulip skirt reemerged again around 2006, this time in styles ranging from casually soft to more structured versions reminiscent of their vintage predecessors. They most commonly fall to the knee, but hems can reach lower towards the calves and ankles, or can be raised up to mini-skirt length.

Although at first glance it might seem that the tulip skirt’s extra fabric would not work on curvier figures, in fact the exaggerated shape is very flattering on women with fuller hips, including pear and hourglass body types. They can also flatter slimmer figures by adding soft curves. (source:


(Dior, 1950 – tulip skirt)

463825077   balmain-fall-2013-17










Project Runway - Runway - Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

So that was a little history on how actually the ‘Tulip’ silhouette emerged. In recent times, it was Giorgio Armani, who sent down tulip pant variations in his Fall RTW 2015/16 show. Everyone knows the inundating love Armani has for pants, which are clearly the power players in almost all his collections. So this new clever pant silhouette did not come as a surprise.

Giorgio Armani RTW Fall 2015   armani-milan

(Giorgio Armani RTW Fall 2015/2016)

These pants resembled tulip petals from the top and had a skinnier fit towards the ankle. It was this very show that led to the re-introduction of the tulip silhouette into the fashion mainstream and this time not in skirts but in pants. Uncountable variations of the tulip pant started emerging, ranging from short and culottes sort to tapered and slim fit.

In India, this silhouette more commonly known as the ‘Dhoti shalwar/pant’ has been around since times unknown and is considered a classic rather than a fad. Although the dhoti shalwar has a lot more billowing volume, the pant variation is lesser fabric and more tapered.


(Dhoti shalwar suit by Ridhi Arora)                              (Dhoti pant/tulip pant by Amrita KM)

(Both sets available at:

And so as fate had it, the tulip pants traveled far and wide and reached our beloved Pakistan. The very first versions were seen last year on the runway but were only limited to formal and bridal wear. Elan, Nida Azwer, Shehla Chatoor and many others dipped their hands into this new (read as: re-incarnated) fashion phenomena.


(Nida Azwer 2015)


(Elan PLBW 2015)

From couture the tulip pants made their transition into luxury pret and now they have suddenly spread like a jungle fire and are available readily off the racks and every other place you can imagine. From as far as I can date, Misha Lakhni was the first designer in Pakistan to influence mainstream fashion with her version of the tulip pant. She presented it in a more relaxed manner, pairing it with loose caftan silhouette tunics and organza wraps. It was all no doubt gorgeous back then.

misha_casual_chic__evening_wear_line_540_01     misha_casual_chic__evening_wear_line_540_04

(Misha Lakhani casual chic, evening wear line)

And then came all the Gul Ahmeds, Nishat linen and Beech tree variations. Tulip pants were seen everywhere hence forth. Now they’re available in all sorts of fabrics from lawns, cottons, silks and chiffons.

I personally have a love/hate relationship with these tulip pants. Whilst I love the tapered effect towards the ankle but the freely flowing hip volume really bothers me much. And as much as I love it in silks and chiffons, it looks tad ugly in stiff cottons and lawns (unless stitched really really well and to perfection). The ugliest one in lawn was this, which I recently spotted in Shehla Chatoor’s lawn campaign:


Even a supermodel like Nargis Fakhri (with all her stylists helping her) is having a hard time to pull this look off. Oh GOD, and what was worse was when every socialite who bought this (tall or short, chubby or slim) got it stitched EXACTLY like this. (a thousand cries and a moment of silence too).

One of my favorites was the one by Menahel and Mehreen (two gorgeous designers from Karachi):


and these ones from Nikasha (India) were fierce!


Now the question is…how to wear tulip pants with a not-so-model physique or height?

FINESSE! The key to wearing tulip pants is finesse. Although I’d recommend to avoid it in lawns and cottons but if it’s an absolute must and you are a dire fashion victim then go ahead bring out that confidence and take on the dare but please keep it simple, fuss free and cowl free! Steer away from printed ones and keep them tapered towards the ankle and a little longer in length, you don’t want them slouching up your leg and end up looking like you are wearing an actual ‘dhoti’. Peplum tops work well with tulips but that depends on how short you can go on the length of the peplum.

Please please don’t pair tulips with your regular ‘kameezes’ it honestly does not look aesthetically pleasing at all, no matter how amazing your lawn print is!

Example being these sorts:

13072263_868613196582705_1530385583_o (2)

Instead try pairing your tapered tulips with boxy kurtas, tunics or poncho tops keeping the lengths as maximum short as you are comfortable with. The result will surely be a winner alongside being modern. Take a cue from these ladies:


So yeah, welcome to the fashion scene Tulip pants! May you remain a short-term fad and may we just continue to keep on enjoying tulips in our gardens and sceneries rather than in our closets!

Amen to that!

(Sources have been duly mentioned unless otherwise stated and all photos have been used only for informational purposes).








Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s