When it comes to ethnic wear, the Indian sari is a fascinating garment. It is essentially just a long piece of cloth, but the elegance and beauty it can add to almost anyone of all body types is wonderful. For me, when I think of saris synonymous with elegance, I always think of my mom. Ever since she was young, she’s been wearing saris of almost every type, with her own way of draping them so they look just fabulous on her.
As a little girl, I would observe her getting ready for work, with her sari draped neatly and fastened with a safety-pin. There were so many different colours, fabrics & designs she would wear effortlessly, accessories matched to perfection, and she continues to do so to this day. Her closet is filled with the most intricately designed, beautiful saris from all parts of the country, some vintage, some recently bought, and they have all been hand-picked by her on various trips across the country. I could spot Banarsi brocade, Kanchipuram silks, Ikat prints (a print that’s been appropriated on the runway numerous times recently), Bandhani and also chiffon and chikan work saris.
Her saris are always perfectly accessorized – her jewellery box is bursting with beads, pearls, gold, silver, and hand-crafted necklaces, pendants and earrings. I would sometimes help her pick out her outfit for wearing to work the next day, and she loved discussing her latest sari buys with me. You’d think being surrounded by this much beauty would convince me to wear saris too, but somehow I felt content just watching her. When it comes to me, I’ve worn them mostly for farewells and special occasions such as a wedding in the family. It never occurred to me to ever consider them for office wear. Then there’s convenience, something our generation is so fixated on. Why drape a beautiful sari, pleat the pallu, tuck it in place, get a matching blouse and underskirt when you can just throw on jeans and a t-shirt? Even the salwar kameez is so much easier to wear.
I have always believed that culture evolves – it is constantly changing, fusing and adapting, and that’s what makes it all the more beautiful. Since I’ve always followed fashion, it only made sense that I would think of how ethnic wear like the sari can be adapted to a modern look. I’m not talking about those fussy cocktail saris we see at Page 3 parties – I mean the lovely, painstakingly crafted traditional saris that take effort to drape. A case in point would be Triveni Ethnics, whose collections take inspiration from modern fashion trends while reflecting the craftsmanship of local artisans. You don’t really get that feeling of intimidation in terms of the saris being ‘too flashy for work’ at all – the colours and patterns are very easily wearable, right from chevron prints mixed with different colours to light embroidery work, minimalistic patterns and more. I also loved the fact that the catalogues have models of all body types and skin colours, something that’s rare these days when all models ‘have’ to look a certain way. Their work towards empowering artisans and local crafts is something to be admired, so do check them out!
I’d love to know your thoughts too. Do you wear saris at all? What are the fabrics that you think flatter you the best? Leave a comment below! Look out for my upcoming OOTD featuring ethnic wear with a contemporary twist.