Power-Politics-Style : What Do You Know About Nehru Jacket?

Who doesn’t know free India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru? I came to know about this impressive personality firstly, from history textbooks during schools. But what made me recall him today?

A kid at neighborhood was dressed up in Pandit Jawaharlal style costume for a fancy dress competition at school. I was at my balcony when I saw that kid in Nehru jacket kurta pajama, with a red rose, tucked on front pocket.

Hence, I thought to research about this amazing signature style of Mr.Jawaharlal. So today, once again today we are going back to the era of the 60s.

Who thought that his signature look will attain much popularity behind him? Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the renowned leaders of the Indian independence movement made this style very popular.

We can define this jacket as a hip-length tailored coat with a Mandarin collar and buttons all the way down. It was initially popular as “bandh gale ka coat”

Nehru jacket was similar to western coats and suits. But it is not exactly a western outfit nor a traditional Indian achkan or sherwani. It is a combination of western suit and Indian ethnic sherwani or achkan.

Our forefathers widely adopted this style. I remember, my grandfather owing similar jacket with him. Thereafter, this trend was lost till the late early 90s but it was hitting fashion shows and celebrities from time to time.

The charismatic P.M wasn’t the only prominent figure associated with it; the minimalist aesthetic of this attire inspired many celebs or other politicians. Read the details below:

The Beatles Band:


An English rock band called “The Beatles”  were widely popular in the 60s era. The Beatles band was found in 1960 and they hailed from Liverpool. The Beatles happened to come to India with their members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison And Ringo Starr to learn the meditation technique.

They were inspired by the Indian culture and were sporting Indian outfits when they were studying under self-proclaimed Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

We can thank the Beatles to set the trend again. They wore Nehru style Jacket to one of their stage performance and it was back in the fashion market.

The beatles sported Nehru jackets
Source : http://piximus.net/art/20th-century-in-black-and-white-photos

I actually found the replica of Nehru inspired jacket on this website:

https://www.sixtiesbeatwear.co.uk/clothing/jackets/shea-jacket-tan.html

But if you want to buy a pure ethnic waistcoat check out our menswear section here:

https://www.gravity-fashion.com/men/waistcoat

Pandit Jawaharlal on Vogue magazine:

I read somewhere on the internet that respected P.M Jawaharlal was featured on Vogue magazine 1964. He wore same hip length bandhgala jacket with buttons all over. Vogue was and is a trendsetter for the fashion market. Hence, it was globally popularized after his picture was published on Vogue cover.

Due to his compelling style, he was featured on the cover of Time magazine too.

Commonwealth games opening ceremony:

It was a matter of pride for Indians that we were able to host the commonwealth games for the year 2010.  Commonwealth Games was held in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi. Everyone was surprised to see England team sporting Red bandi jackets over white kurta pajama during the opening ceremony.

It was a very respectful act done by British team members to honor the host country India.

Contingent of England, marches at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the opening ceremony of XIX Commonwealth Games-2010 Delhi, in New Delhi on October 3, 2010.
Source : http://photodivision.gov.in/IntroPhotodetails.asp?thisPage=98

Other admirers include singer Sammy Davis. He has collected 200 Nehru-style jackets.

Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, was also found wearing a signature coat on few occasions.

It was also believed that an American artist Johnny Carson was paid to wear these waistcoats on his shows. I am not sure about this but I believe these waistcoats are awesome and people love it at least in recent years.

It is clear that this style was internationally embraced. In last few years, these waistcoats became a common outfit for politicians {like uniform 🙂 🙂 }

It represents simplicity yet elegance. Now It can be found in thousands of colors, fabric, and designs. Nehru jackets have undergone alterations over years.

They were made of wool, terry cotton or khadi in those days, but now you can find it in a variety of fabrics. Mostly, terry wool was used to make traditional Nehru waistcoats. That boxy version of this outfit is also re-designed in stylish ways nowadays.

prime-minister-narendra-modi-meets-australian-PM
Source : http://post.jagran.com/australian-pm-gifts-nehru-jacket-to-narendra-modi-1409997167

Modern Nehru Jacket Styles:

Currently, there are various styles of this attire. But the patent style of Nehru jacket is close fitted with stand collar and one row of buttons till down

It was a must-have outfit for Congress supporters. Now, it has got over Modi’s closet well known as modi jacket. Narendra Modi has been successful in bringing the stardom to politicians

Narendra Modi, now PM of India has a very good collection-buttoned up, open, in unconventional colors and he wears them on his foreign trips

During his visit to Australia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott presented PM Narendra Modi with a ‘Nehru jacket’ made of Australian wool.

In 2012 Nehru Jacket managed to acquire position among the “top 10 global political fashion statements” by Time magazine.

light-peach-ready-to-wear-mens-readymande-linen-waist-coat-j16049-5bf
Source : https://www.gravity-fashion.com/men/waistcoat

Not just a man thing:

This desi design gained momentum among ladies too. Although the boxy, square male pattern jackets don’t enhance a woman’s look. Fashion designers like Raghavendra Rathore, Rohit Bal, JJ Valaya, Vikram Phadnis, Abu-Sandeep Khosla re-styled it for females.

The best example of women sporting Nehru style jacket is Kiran Bedi. The lady sports a sleeveless variation. Personally, speaking, I feel like dressing up like her. She looks more powerful in that outfit.

So, It’s not necessary that only fashion icons or celebrity set a trend to follow. As we take a look at the evolution of this amazing fashion. Some public figures end up setting a trend which is followed through decades.

It is evident that politicians like Pandit Jawaharlal or Narendra Modi have paved the way for audiences to imitate him.

In fashion, however, what is considered outdated by one generation becomes trendy for another. This waistcoat is now a style statement rather than just projecting seriousness and patriotism.

kiran-bedi-ips-officer-in-nehru-jacket
Source : http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/kiran-bedi-join-bjp-delhi-assembly-polls-arvind-kejriwal/1/413390.html

Interesting incident on nehru jacket :

Another incident, I found on the internet is very interesting. This short incident was mentioned in “A Journey through nicobars”

It is believed that Edward Kutchat a tribal leader from Car Nicobar was invited by Nehru. The prime minister Jawaharlal nehru was interested in Indian airfield in that island but kutcha was not ready to deal.  Pandit managed to convince him and he agreed to the deal, In return Kutchat asked for the jacket Mr. nehru was wearing.  

Traces Of Nehru Jacket Tailoring

D. Vaish was believed to be one of Nehru’s tailor. According to him, Jawaharlal loved bamboo fabrics and black, white, cream, gray were his favorite colors.

D. Vaish was one of the main tailors to the Prime Minister and still serving people with great tailoring services. I also managed to find their website: http://dvaishsons.com

Another tailor group in Delhi called Hassan, claimed to have stitched sherwani for Nehru and many other politicians

It is also said that he had stopped wearing western suits in 1930 under Gandhiji’s call to boycott movement. He has started wearing khadi kurtas until Britishers left in 1947.

Nehru waistcoats have become more popular for weddings. It is widely used for groomsmen and some heavy waistcoats with handwork for a groom. If anyone is not comfortable with heavy sherwani, opt for a fancy buttoned handworked Nehru jacket and it will rock.

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