Trikon ka Chautha Kon aka The Fourth Angle of a Triangle (1986) is kind of quasi arthouse 80s cinema and more than a little regressive when it comes to it’s women protagonists who dominate much of the film. The film wardrobe is splendid though and showcases a number of 80s middle class India trends for women. Without providing a specific nomenclature, the styles are of a subset of the educated Indian middle class, alongside the kind featured today saris and sets of the polyester revolution of the late 70s and 80s also existed.
The 1980s was the decade of widespread use of chudidar-kurta and salwar-kurta ensembles by young middle class women. Both the styles in the above pic were popular, the kurta with an embroidered yoke and the mixed print pattern with the dupatta and the bottom garment also picking up the print. The kurta of pic 2 is an angrakha (tunic with ties to the left) -also popular.
Printed matching dupattas were a hallmark of this decade.
For older women and young working women of the middle classes, you often saw a mix of handlooms and synthetics (the latter from brands liks Khatau and Vimal). Swaroop Sampat’s working woman’s wardrobe includes broad border cotton saris from Bengal, printed silks as well as some chiffon/faux chiffons. I really like the fresh green sari, these simple prints are hard to come by these days.
In pic 6 you can see a Nalini Sarees store, a popular brand of the decade.
Similarly a lot of broad border cotton saris from the South and Bengal for Priyadarshinee who plays the stay at home wife of an executive sort. And the odd synthetic saree. With some more conventional accessories like the mangalsutra or co-ordinated glass bangles.The style still persists in a somewhat mutated form – a lot of my older cousins often dress like this.
Re the blouse it is close fitting with sleeves just above the elbow. Usually a V or U neckline which may have a bit of a high neck detail. The hair is loose or a low coiled bun. And of course the round maroon bindi is ubiquitous in the decade.
Rekha and Shabana were probably the most influential stars of the 80s when it came to Indian wear. The decorative, very Indian style that was Rekha’s trademark can be seen on Priyadarshinee and the slightly more casual style that Shabana made popular on Swaroop Sampat.
A little bit on sleepwear. The long gown with a decorative yolk that Swaroop Sampat wears was quite common. Often it departed from the printed maxi (seen on her friend) in adhering more to the “ethnic chic” wear of the decade and essentially resembling a long kurta or kaftan. The cross collar (wrapping the right lapel over the left) maxi worn by Priyadarshinee was also common.
For the male lead (Vijayendra Ghatge) there is office wear (wide ties!) with the pyjama-kurta for sleepwear. And the little girl is a charmer in a simple green frock.
In the film Trikon Ka Chautha Kon a woman smokes, reads Sartre and talks constantly with her lips curled up. At the denotative level this signifies only someone who is given to smoking and reading Sartre with a predilection to curl up her lips…EPW, Vol 21, 1986.
Last but not the least, the “women’s libber” bestie who is a caricature. But as with many things viewed through a 2016 lens she looks pretty cool – I totally want to put a book on my face and use it as a profile pic:). Though not shown full length that is a pretty neat and simple 80s dress.