12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

When it comes to fashion, an outfit is not complete until you add accessories. These are the 12 Desi accessories to finish your look.


"one exquisite testament of unparalleled Indian artistry."

There is more to choosing your outfit these days than just picking something out from your wardrobe. Accessories can make or break a look, especially when it comes to Desi accessories.

Whether you are going to work, on a night out with friends or to a wedding, the accessories are as vital as the outfit itself.

So, which ones do you need to own?

There are plenty of western accessories that we can choose from but there are also many Desi accessories on offer.

The beauty is you can wear these Desi options with western and eastern outfits.

Dress up your t-shirt and jeans with a pair of jhumkas (earrings) or a set of churiyaan (bangles). Pair your lehenga with a maang tikka and a koka (nose ring). There are no rules.

Here are 12 of the top Desi accessories for women that you should have in your collection.



12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

Earrings are an essential part of any woman’s jewellery collection and there are two types of Desi styles that you really should own. These are the jhumkas and the chandbalis.

Jhumkas are bell-shaped earrings that originate from South India and gained recognition after royal families began to wear them. It’s the bell and distinctive jingling sound that gave it the name of jhumka.

Jhumkas come in many different varieties including gold and silver and are versatile enough to style with almost any outfit. Known as an accessory to ethnic wear, it can easily be worn with western clothes.

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja has chosen a pair of silver, oxidised jhumkas to wear with her black outfit. She has added eastern flavour and a splash of colour to her look.

Meanwhile Anushka Sharma wears a gold pair of jhumkas with her traditional sari. The jhumkas add something to this otherwise simplistic look.


The Top 12 Desi Accessories for Women - chand

Chandbalis translates as ‘moon earrings’ and they are just as popular as jhumkas when it comes to Desi earrings.

Also worn by royal families, the root of the chandbali traces back to the Mughal era.

Chandbalis are often seen in Bollywood films and on the red carpet and are the perfect addition to a traditional outfit.

The chandbali is about accentuating the face and is mostly seen in gold styles.

Rose-gold options and chandbalis with coloured detailing are being seen more and more. Alia Bhatt is seen wearing a pair with her polka-dot dress, fusing two cultures together for a unique spark.

Kareena Kapoor Khan is wearing hers with a golden embroidered sari which matches her gold chandbalis nicely.

This special accessory can add vibrancy to traditional wear but also give a cultural flair to a more western outfit.


The Top 12 Desi Accessories for Women - jhola

Leaving the house without a handbag is just not possible so how about a jhola bag to carry your essentials? Jhola is the simplest bag made by knotting the ends of a piece of cloth.

The epitome of Desi accessories, its flexible shape allows you more space for your belongings. They are eco-friendly and are usually bright and colourful and originate as far back as 500 BC.

The versatility and unique designs of a jhola bag can be precious. With a vast range of styles to suit everyone, the jhola bag really is a representation of you.

Designer Vipul Shah has put his spin on the classic jhola by creating a range of beautiful clutch bags. They have the colours and patterns of a typical jhola with extra glamour.

Many celebrities have been seen wearing his bags including Kajol and Malaika Arora. This is the easiest way to add an eastern twist to any outfit.

Nose Rings

12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

A popular Desi accessory is the nose ring which actually originates in the Middle East. They arrived in India with the Mughals and have many different names including ‘nath’ and ‘koka’.

Indian brides traditionally wear them as part of their bridal outfits and they are usually made in gold or silver.

Nose rings that are embellished with jewels are also becoming increasingly popular.

Once seen as outdated, the modern take on this traditional accessory is exciting for fashionistas.

The sparkle and construction are innovative yet holds on to the enriching details of the Desi style.

Nose rings also come in different shapes. There are standard nose studs as Shraddha Kapoor wears and the hoop style as seen on Hina Khan.

Now a focal point of South Asian ensembles, the nose ring remains a distinct and vivid touch to any outfit.


12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

Bindi comes from the Sanskrit word bindu which means a dot or point. They are often seen in red, worn by married women, who would change them to black when widowed.

The bindi is also seen as a third eye that wards off bad luck.

Although traditionally round, bindis are now seen in many different colours and a variety of shapes. Such as squares, triangles and diamond-shaped.

The appreciation for this artistic accessory has even infiltrated America.

Singing starlet, Selena Gomez, has been seen on numerous occasions rocking bindis which she normally pairs with a simplistic western outfit or an elegant dress.

Jewelled bindis are also very popular and this is one of the easiest Desi accessories to match any of your outfits.

The simplest way is to choose the bindi colour to match your outfit colour.

Shruti Hassan wears a traditional dot bindi whilst Shilpa Shetty Kundra wears a Maharashtrian style.

Maang Tikka

12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

The maang tikka was first associated with brides and like the bindi, said to be connected to the third eye.

It became a significant symbol on the wedding day, showing spiritual, physical and emotional unity.

Over time it has become a Desi accessory that women usually wear to traditional weddings and functions.

The maang tikka comes in many shapes and sizes and can be silver, gold or diamond.

Oversized maang tikkas are one of the most popular varieties and are usually worn with a hairstyle parted down the middle.

Smaller, more delicate maang tikkas are also available and round shapes and diamond are the most popular.

Parineeti Chopra is seen wearing a maang tikka at her cousin Priyanka’s wedding and she matches it beautifully with the colour of her lehenga. It also matches her necklace and jhumkas.

Karisma Kapoor also matches her delicate maang tikka with her outfit. She chooses gold to go with her yellow silk ensemble.


12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

Bangles are one of the most loved Desi accessories and with so many varieties, it’s easy to see why. They can literally be worn with any outfit, ethnic or not.

The word bangle comes from the Hindi word ‘bungri’ which means glass. Very important as part of a bride’s outfit, it is considered bad luck if she is not wearing bangles.

They are now known as a great fashion accessory for all occasions, both eastern and western. Bangles can be smooth or jewelled and come in glass and metal, as well as gold and silver.

Bhumi Pednekar shows how to wear an assortment of different shaped and sized bangles with her sari.

Kareena Kapoor Khan wears a mix of silver and coloured bangles with her kurta top and dupatta.

A very versatile piece, bangles can complement any outfit choice and provide that pop of South Asian artistry.

Haath Phool


The haath phool is a piece of hand jewellery that translates to a hand flower. It is another accessory that has gone from being just for brides to being suitable for all occasions.

Believed to have originated in Persia, it was the Mughals who brought it to India. Royal family members were often seen wearing this regal piece of jewellery.

Writer Praachi Raniwala states:

“These pieces were championed as works of art; using only the finest stones and artistry to create them.”

Later adding a woman feels the accessory is:

“The best of both worlds, wrapped around her hand in one exquisite testament of unparalleled Indian artistry.”

Mughal courtesans really popularised the haath phool and in India, Rajput royalty was very fond of them.

Pearls were used for the first time when the Nawabs added them to the accessory.

The haath phool can be made in silver or gold and is often encrusted with jewels or pearls.

Kareena Kapoor Khan wears gold and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja chooses one with pink jewels to match her outfit.



Scarves or dupattas were originally worn by women as a symbol of modesty with ethnic clothing. That is still the case but many women now wear it as a decorative accessory.

It is trendy to wear a single-coloured dupatta of bright colour with a kurta top and a pair of jeans. Wearing a printed dupatta with a chikankari kurta and churidar is also very popular.

The dupatta now comes in many different sizes and not just the original two-metre type that is worn over both shoulders.

There is a shorter size for just one shoulder and a square one that is used as an accessory.

As they come in so many different colours you can always find one to match your outfit. You can choose from plain scarves, patterned ones and even multi-coloured ones.

Kriti Sanon has chosen a beige one with a lipstick print to wear with her jeans and top. Jacqueline Fernandez chooses a thin red and black scarf for her look.


12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

Using flowers in your hair is no longer just for brides as a gajra hairstyle. Adding beautiful flowers to your hairstyle can really give it an amazing new look.

The most popular way the gajra hairstyle is done is in a bun shape. A neatly tied bun with a ring of flowers around it adds glamour and style as Tara Sutaria shows.

Jasmine buds are most commonly used for the gajra look but there are many different variations now.

Designer Rohit Bal made roses a popular choice and Dolce & Gabbana used carnations in their 2015 runway show.

Hawaiian women have always adorned their hair with frangipani flowers and give an effortless, beachy look. Daisies are great for pinning into long hair for a cute, floral look.

Of course, as with other Desi accessories, there are always new twists on this classic idea. Flowers are often seen weaved into braids or even as a flower garland headpiece as seen on Bipasha Basu.


It is a very intimate piece of jewellery. An accessory that allows you to appreciate its beauty both visually and aurally.

The payal or the anklet originally came from Egyptian and Indian cultures. As with so many Desi accessories they were first seen on members of royal families as a symbol of their wealth.

Payals can be very heavy, or a simple set that usually features small bells on them. As well as being made in silver and gold, they can also be made from beads, stones and plastics.

Due to the versatility of the payal, they can be worn with many styles of outfits.

Actresses have made a big statement for payals which has increased their popularity and designs.

In Bajirao Mastani (2015) Priyanka Chopra Jonas is seen wearing them with a traditional outfit. Whereas Katrina Kaif wears her with swimwear on the beach for a really unique look.

It is a very intimate piece of jewellery. An accessory that allows you to appreciate its beauty both visually and aurally.


12 Best Desi Accessories for Women

Everyone needs a break from high heels once in a while so try a pair of Kolhapuri chappals. These are not just for casual wear but for any time when you want to be comfortable.

The origin of the chappals goes back to the 12th century and it can take six weeks to make one pair.

In the 70s, they became very popular in the USA during the hippie movement.

Made from leather, the traditional chappals are a tan colour although they are available in other colours.

They look great with ethnic clothing but just as well with a pair of jeans.

They usually feature some embroidery and the tan colour can match any outfit. Celebrities such as Kriti Sanon and Janhvi Kapoor both wear their pair of chappals with long dresses.

Although, they surely can be worn with numerous ensembles to keep you comfortable all day long.



Statement necklaces and chokers are seen more and more and are usually reserved for weddings and similar events. They add lots of glamour to your sari or lehenga, no matter your style.

Collar necklaces were first found in Egypt and were worn by princesses. Even Disney’s Cinderella (1950) is seen sporting one in the animated movie. Native American women also wore them as protective armour.

The best way to wear them is by wearing a low neckline and matching earrings. This will allow it to stand out.

They can come in a range of colours such as beige and maroon, often encrusted with spectacular jewels.

Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt both wore these statement chokers that shows off the trend perfectly.

By keeping their neckline low, they really let the jewellery do all the talking.

Accessories have come a long way from only being worn at weddings and fancy functions. These garments are now a vital component of formal and casual fashion.

Originally only seen on members of the royal family, they are now available to everyone. From online shops to small businesses, many communities now can appreciate the South Asian style.

Wear them with your ethnic wear and also your more western outfits for an added eastern twist.

Whether you are rocking a haath phool or bindi, a pair of jhumkas or a maang tikka, your accessories can speak volumes.

Your outfit isn’t complete without them so allow them to take centre stage.

Dal is a Journalism graduate who loves sports, travelling, Bollywood and fitness. Her favourite quote is, “I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying,” by Michael Jordan.

Images courtesy of Instagram, Weddingwire, Bridal Beauty Editor & Tjori.

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