Though Indian attire has not been common for men, especially the middle and upper classes, post Independence, it is pretty much de rigeur for male politicians. Usually this is varying permutations and combinations of the kurta/achkan/jacket/dhoti with regional variants (e.g. regional headgear) on visits to states. Each Prime Minister nevertheless has his own individuality – or rather items of clothing that become associated with his persona – be it Nehru’s achkan, Shastri’s dhoti, VP Singh’s fur cap or Modi’s jacket.
Much of this template for male politicians is present in Rajiv Gandhi’s clothing from the mid 80s onwards when he became Prime Minister. Many elements expectedly drew from or found their way into Indian styles of the time. This included the bandhgala of pic 2 as formal wear and the more casual kurta pyjama (as opposed to the chudidar), often worn with sports shoes.
Regional elements are often added to attire by politicians when visiting a state. However, two distinct elements, the shawl with a Bengal drape (pics 3 and 4) and the South Indian angasvastram (pics 5 and 6) were often worn by Mr Gandhi, reflecting the decade of Festival of India which brought together several regional elements as “ethnic chic”.
Pic 1 is the Gandhi cap, long worn in India but rarely seen in present times.
Pics Source: X.
On the 1980s go here.