The bandhgala, also often referred to as the prince coat, is a men’s wardrobe intrinsic and with good reason at that. A regular jacket with front button closing and high collar, it is reminiscent of Indian royalty and princely dressers. Whether it’s a wedding soiree or a formal dinner, you can always be assured of cutting a dashing picture in an impeccably cut bandhgala. No wonder it has made its way into the wardrobes of debonair dandies like Rahul Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Milind Soman, Saif Ali Khan and Arjun Rampal, to name a few.
And if there’s one man who understands this Rajasthani aristocratic staple better than anyone else, it’s blue-blooded designer Raghavendra Rathore. He has mastered that art of churning out Jodhpuri bandhgalas in their most original form — tapping into the secrets of cuts and fit that date back a century. Painstakingly tailored over 23 meticulous hours, Rathore has managed to give this old school must-have a slick contemporary relevance. He tells us how attention to a few small details can indeed go a long way:
What makes the bandhgala so special is that it was worn by young princes during the birth of a new India and then went on to create international ripples too. Today, it is synonymous with the Taj Mahal, Kipling and ultimately with India too.
A bandhgala is a must-have in every man’s wardrobe — it is as classic and comfortable as they come. The fact that it can be worn to any occasion makes it a wardrobe intrinsic. Whether you wear it formally or casually, a sense of sophistication is guaranteed. The ultimate benefit of owning a bandhgala is that it can flatter any body type and promises a regal look. This combination of elegance with a hint of ethnicity makes it a winner. It is the singular most versatile piece that can depict your own individual style.
First up, it is absolutely essential to get the cut and fit right. One needs to be extremely particular about it. Bandhgalas are associated with an old-world princely charm. And fit is the key to achieving the look that our ancestors introduced and sported so tastefully. Remember to coordinate the rest of the outfit with the bandhgala in a balanced fashion.
It should be cut high on the armhole while the jacket should fit like a glove around the chest. This tailored look lends it a modern edge. It should always be like a second skin.
The length is ideally dictated by the body type. But as a general rule to follow, the length should end just at the root of the thumb while the arms rest against the body. Too long or too short with a boxy unstructured look will kill the purpose of the well-cut jacket.
The formal bandhgala is usually made of cashmere, wool, khadi or matka silk. Now, apart from lightweight woolen fabrics like tropical wool, marina wool and terry wool, some of which are lighter than cotton, bandhgalas are also made in linen, Irish linen, cotton chino and silk. The bandhgala has an unmatched quality when made in fine Italian suiting fabric.
Colour is no bar; don’t feel confined to just choose from safe hues. While black is an all-time classic, colours have been extended from the traditional white, cream, and black to everything from deep wine to colourful pastels.
Wearing a white band collar shirt is the norm or what was dictated. However, due to its versatility, the jacket seems to have created an edge to experiment with different colours and cuts. The custom-made Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpuri Bandhgala shirt offers the ideal pairing with the trademark Rathore Jodhpuri Bandhgala. The customised button-down RR shirt comes with a special yet subtle detailing on the cuff and collar.
While traditionally bandhgalas have been buttoned up, the styling of the Rathore bandhgala has always maintained that the first two buttons ought to be open — it is the standard we follow. This trademark look from the brand has now become a standard for most wearers and works wonderfully well when cravats and scarves are to be paired with the outfit.
A bandhgala is best worn with a pair of breeches. But it doesn’t end there. A classic Jodhpuri bandhgala can in fact be teamed up with any pair of trousers. For a casual yet smart look nothing looks better than dark blue denims teamed up with a well-cut bandhgala. For a more formal feel, flat front slim cut trousers are the best. Teaming the bandhgala with coloured pants can also work very well.
Keep the suit colour dark, preferably black and add colour by way of your accessories like cuff links and pocket squares. Make sure they are all colour-coordinated though. Wearing cufflinks is an individual choice, and naturally depends on the occasion.
Fine leather shoes and leather belt in a complementary color are needed to top off the look.
Opt for jeweled buttons and subtle and understated antique tone-on-tone embroideries on the collar and cuffs when getting your bandhgala tailored for a dressy occasion. Alternatively, an all-over embroidered one is a good option too.
There is no harm in repeating your bandhgala to get the most out of it. A few simple touches can bring about ample change. Depending on the occasion, you could probably opt for a variety of jeweled buttons. Or spruce it up with embroidered pocket squares in alternate colors.