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Fashion Disaster: The Harem Pant/ Dhoti Pant

Updated on February 19, 2011
The Egregious Dhoti/Harem Pant
The Egregious Dhoti/Harem Pant

(Written for and first published at

Every now and again, the fashion designers and fashionistas resurrect a trend from days gone by, that was long interred and which should have stayed buried. In a bid to be fresh and new, designers seem destined to revisit the horrors of the past and pull out of the closet the kind of fashion abomination that should never see the light of day. There are some of the fashion mistakes that designers seem destined to repeat, and pride of place among them goes to the harem pant and its evil cousin the dhoti pant:

Well in the harems of sultans and Arab sheikhs there may have been a particular requirement for the garment but really there is no excuse for foisting this horror creation upon us repeatedly. M C Hammer popularised this inexplicable item of clothing in the 80’s (he has a lot to answer for). Remember the iconic hip hop number Can’t touch this?  And remember the ghastly low crotch, baggy pants/pajamas that were fitted below the knee? Rather than put it down to celebrity vagary the fashion world embraced the foul creation and I will admit to having had a rather inexcusable pair of magenta harem pants when in school…

And once wasn’t enough either! The dreaded harem pant has made a comeback. The peculiar gathered waist, the clinched ankle; I have no idea how a bright red pair has sneaked its way into my closet…

Anyway Indian designers went a step further and as though the harem pant was not enough, they invented the ‘dhoti’ pant. This is an item of clothing that screams identity crisis and brings to mind irresistibly, the Hindi phrase, ‘Dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka’ because this is neither the Indian dhoti, nor the international pantaloon; it is an orphan creation, that will hopefully die a natural death soon one hopes.

Mumbai-based designer Nisha Jamvwal admits that the dhoti pant has an over the top feel, and that not everyone can carry off the dhoti. Well thank goodness for that! We can perhaps tolerate Kareena Kapoor in Jab We Met traipsing all over semi urban India in what can only be described as a dhoti pant, but imagine if that freakishly egregious creation stepped off the avant garde catwalk and crept into our homes and our unsuspecting fashion sensibilities! After all the floor sweeper bell bottoms, and the appalling baggy pants have all done the rounds and we have all be fashion victims from time to time….


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