Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sari Love - Payal Talreja and her penchant for handlooms

Hello sari gals! I’m back with a sari guest from Delhi – Payal Talreja, a poet, handloom and handicraft curator + creative director at Tvam, and the co-founder of SaReal, a sari group on Facebook, where it’s also about making a difference by donating a sari or raising funds for a cause through saris. You can visit her at her online store, Tvam or at The Sareal Pact on Facebook.

Here's Payal Talreja with her penchant for handlooms and giving back to the community of weavers and to those in need.

Question. Please tell us about yourself - what you do, where do you live, your interests, family etc.

Ans. I live in Delhi. Right now, I curate loom crafts - sarees and dupattas, and handcrafted jewelry. I run a small FB page called Tvam .

I also write actively, on groups:

I am a published poet and continue to write poetry:

At this stage of my life, I would say my interests are quite varied and numerous. Chief among those I would put Spirituality, Women’s issues, Parenting, and Travel.

I am an absolute convert to handlooms and am working in a very small way with weavers and WCS to promote loom crafts. This is of great interest to me, and I am happy to say that I am putting a lot of effort and my personal savings behind this in a small way. I think it is an imperative that we save our crafts from dying out. I think my interest was sparked when a visiting relative from abroad, who commented on two recent aspects of India Society -
1. She said people were hardly wearing sarees any more and everyone seemed to be in western clothes.
2. She remarked how ‘bling’ had taken over aesthetics.

I have worn, and do wear my share of other outfits, but I started a group called the SaReal Pact with my friend Annapoorni S Trichur with three main aims -
1. Promote saree wearing but in a stress-free and non-competitive way.
2. Use the social media to connect in a more honest and ‘real’ way, and for a community of women who network and connect just as in real life, going beyond the ‘fake’ happy world of FB.
3. Use the SaReal platform to provide an opportunity for giving back to society through Charity. Last year we donated over 250 sprees to GOONJ.

Ques. I absolutely love your sari style. How would you describe it?

Ans. I have always been bohemian at heart. I am pretty much a non-conformist and I think my saree style reflects this. I staunchly wear cottons and handlooms. I could wear one to a wedding, quite happily.

I have worn sarees with shirts, with zara blousons, with Forever21 tank tops as blouses. The most important thing is to ‘own it’ - I have written about this here

See, there is a certain comfort level and ease which comes from accepting your body in totality - and that reflects in my saree style I think. And comfort matters most to me.

Ques. What kind of saris do you enjoy wearing, and what kind of occasions do you wear them for?

Ans. Handlooms. Preferably cotton. I haven’t got rid of my silks yet, because though the cruelty behind silks does bother me, I am not sure if I will add to the ‘waste’ by discarding what I already have.

I wear them for many things - including pub crawls. School visits, friend’s homes, parties or sometimes just at home. Always make me feel wonderful.

Ques. I’ve noticed that you wear some fun blouses. Do you have tips for sari aficionados about how to come up with unusual combinations while using what they already have in their wardrobe?

Ans. The biggest problem girls and women have about wearing a saree, especially a traditional handloom or khadi saree, is beating the ‘behenji’ image.

Today’s woman is bold, brave, articulate self confidant and she expresses who she is through her clothes.

For me, style has to evolve and change with the times. So if I am comfortable wearing a strappy top with jeans, why not with a saree? Why not a favorite shirt with a saree? The saree is an extension of who I am, and so the blouse gets replaced sometimes, with something new age. It’s not a big deal.

It’s just a ‘top’. Pick from what you have, and mix and match. We just have to re-calibrate our thinking of ‘what’ a saree blouse ‘should be’. Everything won’t go with a saree. But some things will add a unique dimension.

I think a lot of people are instinctive about what suits them. Others need guidance. Ask a friend/sister - someone on the same wavelength who understands your vibe and will be honest.

Ques. What’s an interesting way to accessorize without collecting a huge amount of jewellery?

Ans. Here’s how I do it:
- Have something in silver (not necessarily real silver)
- have something in black
- have something in red
- have something with wood
- have a pair of earrings/ bracelets or bangles that standout

I would wear only two pieces at a time - earrings/ring, necklace/bracelet, bracelet/earrings, nose pin/necklace…but that’s me.

This will pretty much take you across the bandwidth. Choose pieces that reflect your personality.

As for me, I always have Tvam jewelry at hand. Let me reveal though - till last year I was an absolute no-jewelry person. I guess, it interfered with my job and idea of who I was. Now I my philosophy is - ‘bring it on’. Am still not fond of bling though. Chunky, tribal, unusual - I guess that reflects in the range I display on Tvam.

Ques. What’s your best tip for those who love the sari, but are hesitant about wearing it more often?

Ans. Wear it to a place/occasion where you are most comfortable, to begin with. Wear it at home. Today I can literally wear a saree for anything, in 5 minutes flat, without a mirror.

I would urge all ladies to wear sarees. I do believe this is an Indian woman’s unique salute to her country. Think about it - it’s the one garment recognizable the world over. We have a rich textile heritage. We owe it to ourselves to preserve it. Everyone can buy one saree - it’s not that tough. There is always something handloom, cotton and beautiful to suit your pocket.

Thank you for joining us here, Payal!

(Psst…in case you missed our chat with our first sari guest, here’s Sunanda Sastry’s sari feature.)

Note: If you wish to be featured here in our Sari Love section, please message us via our Facebook Page /mail us at Please tell us about your sari love + send us a link to some of your sari pictures. 

This is what we're looking for:

We're looking for women who wear the garment in a quirky/interesting/bohemian/spunky i.e. different from the usual way.


We'd love to hear from you if you're making a difference with your saris (example, helping others with the ones you don't wear anymore or working with weavers etc.).

#100sareepact #sarealpact #handloom #handloomsari #sarilove #saristyle 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

7 ways to create a simple and sustainable sari lifestyle

Just the other day, I was looking through the black steel trunks that house my saris. While it’s exciting to know that I’ve reached the #100sareepact in a different way - with about a hundred saris ensconced among the bundles nestling in those trunks, it’s also a little overwhelming. As decadent as it may be, owning an abundance of saris can be draining. All that sorting and arranging, the packing and carting across the country, the space that they need and the guilt that I need to care for them better.

The quest for a sari lifestyle

Don’t get me wrong – I’m ever grateful that I have had the good fortune to buy and receive these gorgeous saris. But I do wonder if I need them all. With an ongoing quest to pare things down and keep things on the simple side, here is my method in this happy madness to pursue a sari lifestyle without going overboard or getting overwhelmed.

1. Take time out to sort through your saris as the seasons change. Bring out 10-20 saris that you’d like to wear in this season. Get these ironed, pair them up with their respective petticoats and if you like, choose the blouses/tops that will go well with these. Arrange them on hangers and when you want to wear one, just pull one out as per what you feel like draping. It takes the stress out of last-minute ironing and the frenzy of putting together a sari look.

2. At the same time, care for and pack up the saris that you’ve worn in the previous season. Tuck in a sachet of fragrant herbs  and let them rest till you’re ready to wear them again.

Bye-bye summer saris

3. Check all your saris while you’re at it, and see if any of them need any special care. A coffee stain that you missed? A little tear that can be mended? Too crumpled for your taste? Too musty? Give them the care these saris need and then pack them up.

4. As for brand new saris – those that call to us from sari shops, think really hard if you want that one because your friend has bought a similar sari or if it’s something you can’t live without. Sleep over it if you can. Riffle through your existing sari collection and see if you have something similar. Here’s a great post about buying saris by Payal Talreja, a poet and founder of SaReal. Buying after a lot of soul searching can seem painstaking but very satisfying at the end of it.

Bringing out the heavy cottons for mid-season wear

5. Once every year (or more, if you wish), take a good look at your saris. If there’s a particular sari that you don’t wish to wear anymore, think of gifting it to someone who barely has a sari to cover herself with. You may want to think of reaching out to Goonj with your old saris to help women in villages who do not posses even a single decent sari to cover themselves with (details mentioned below).

6. And, every season, as you bring out new saris or gaze lovingly at the ones in your trunks and cupboards, think of new ways to create sari ensembles with what you already have. If a blouse doesn’t fit you (because we change with the seasons too), try an old top or a t-shirt. If those bead necklaces broke, make one with magazine beads or polymer clay, or repurpose those beads and baubles into new jewellery. Try new footwear combos and bring in more flare as you wear those old saris in a new way. Here’s my post about recycling and reusing what you have to create new sari ensembles.

Mixing-and-matching to create new ensembles

7. As for accessories and footwear, and the brouhaha of blouses, see how you can keep things simple. Instead of a large jewellery box overflowing with baubles, can you pare it down to a handful of classic pieces? Can you weed out the shoes and sandals that you don’t wear anymore, and limit your shoe collection to a manageable few?

The art of a sari lifestyle is about keeping things simple yet interesting.

It’s about making the most of what you already have and adding a few pieces, lovingly, the slower, more contemplative way.

It’s also about caring for the saris you have, and sharing what you don’t need anymore.

If you’re part of a sari lifestyle, here’s how you can share your gently-used saris with Goonj and be a part of the Saree for Dignity Campaign.

1. Keep aside 1 or more gently-used sari(s) that you wish to share with women in villages.

2. Check here to see if you have a Goonj drop center in your city:

3. If not, see if your budget will allow you to courier the saris to the nearest drop center.

4. If you have more questions, mail me at or message me here.

5. If you’d like to ask the Goonj Team directly, mail them at .

Together, let’s create a sari lifestyle thats sustainable and includes some sharing!

Message us via our Facebook Page to be a part of this gorgeous and giving sari life.

#saristyle #sareefordignity #sarilifestyle #100sareepact #sustainablesari

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sari Love - Sunanda Sastry and her quirky sari style

Hey Sari Gals out there! Here’s a new sari series called Sari Love with picture profiles of sari aficionados across India and the world. Women who wear the sari with pride, passion and panache. Ladies who let their saris go out and play i.e gals who don’t keep their saris caged up in closets or pegged into standard ensembles.

So ladies, get ready to find dollops of inspiration in these posts – enough to nudge you to bring out those handloom saris and wear them with a playful twist. Hop on as we cruise into this interesting sari territory!

Meet our very first sari guest - Sunanda Sastry, a sari czarina with a quirky, crazy style of her own.

Q. Please tell us about yourself – what you do, where do you live, your interests, family.

Ans. To 'Precis' into 6 lines about Oneself is the toughest thing to do but lets get down to it:
I am an Architect who Designs Interior Spaces (70%of my time under -Sunanda Sastry & Associates)
and loves to work with All that is Earthmade/Handmade and Vintage (30%of my time under-Sutradhaar)

I call myself a Hardcore (kattarr) Mumbaiite!

My brood comprises of :
a) A Travelling Husband
b) A 14 yr old Son
c) A 12 yr old Daughter...

Q. I absolutely love your sari style. How would you describe it?

Ans. My Saree Style varies from Boho to Elegant Ethnic to Experimental!
I can wear a Cotton to the most Flamboyant South Indian Wedding/ A Boho Ensemble to a Casual Chai Meet or An Elegant Ethnic to An Exhibit..

Q. I’ve noticed that you wear some fun blouses. Do you have tips for sari aficionados about how to come up with unusual combinations while using what they already have in their wardrobe?

Ans. Yes, you did notice that I have 'Fun' with the blouses and the Intention is exactly that- To Have Fun' with various Styles and Combinations!

Q. What’s an interesting way to accessorize without collecting a huge amount of jewellery?

Ans. The following pics can explain better on how to accessorize without huge amount of jewellery and to come up with a New look with sarees that already exist!

One Saree and different looks!

Experimental whether in a saree or a half saree around the Lankan Coast!

Accessories in the form of large Jhumkas are just enough!

South Cottons that I sometimes sneak into a wedding space too again with chunky or out of the box necklaces!

What I consider Effortlessly Elegant sometimes with a bold neckpiece or just bold large earrings!

Sometimes Quirky in a Formal Space stands Out!

When there was no matching or the right blouse to go with the purple benarasi i dished out a west side Top that happened to be the same color( wearing matching for the first time).

And Finally different lengths of blouses can spruce up the most simple sarees and take it to a festive level!

Q. What’s your best tip for those who love the sari, but are hesitant about wearing it more often?

The best TIP is: To Be You and Be Confident in what you wear irrespective of Body Type/ Saree Cost/ presence or Absence of Accessories..... And to Just let Your Personality shine through!
Cos " Beauty Begins The Moment You Start Being Yourself"- CC

Note: Rta Kapur Chisti s workshop is a must and urges u to experiment if you think you know all about Sarees.

P.S. If you love your sari and would like to be featured here, drop us a line at or message us through our Facebook Page, and tell/show us how your sari style is quirky/crazy/interesting!

#saristyle #sarilove #100sareepact #saree #handloomsari #loveyoursari

Monday, September 5, 2016

9 ways to recycle and reuse what you already have to create an eclectic sari look

So by now you know that I’m a sari gal. You probably also know that I favor a crunchy and eco-licious lifestyle. And, top that with motherhood and remnants of my pre-mom wardrobe, and you’ve got this article packed with 9 tips to recycle and reuse what you’ve got to create a style that’s all about spunk and creativity. 

As a work-from-home writer and a mom with a hurricane of a little boy to chase after, I’m often attired in a pair of comfortable pallazos/pants/leggings and t-shirts, and so when I do have to change into a sari, I like to carry over some of the casualness of this wardrobe into my sari style.

Another factor that has kept me on this quest to create a sari style that’s effortless yet interesting is the amount of time I have to get ready. And often that’s less than 10 minutes if I’m lucky. So, the idea is to create an outfit in a jiffy with what I already have while adding a unique look that’s totally me.

Lately, I’ve also been trying to turn into a ‘rational minimalist’ by consuming/buying/shopping more consciously. This means, that before I purchase a gorgeous and expensive sari blouse or splurge on a pair of sandals, I must come up with creative ways to wear what’s already residing in my closet. 

If any of this resonates with you or even if you’re just curious about creating a sari style with the different elements of your wardrobe, here are some of my tips.

1. Just pick up a t-shirt, shirt or top from your wardrobe and match it with a sari. Don’t overthink the combo or if the colors or patterns match. You’ll be surprised at how eclectic such a put-together look can be.

2. Mix two different kinds of styles. For example, once I wore a kitschy indigo collared t-shirt with a traditional white-and-red Tangail sari. I teamed this with camel-colored boots and a big red bindi, and it was quite a hit at the party I went to.

3. Wear those tops in neutral shades as blouses to go with your block printed, handloom saris. I wear my black or white sleeveless tops with saris, instead of a blouse.

4. Don’t be shy of teaming up those slightly-tight shirts with your saris. These are perfect to wear during the cooler months, and go well with cottons and silks.
Halter tops or spaghetti tops look perfect with chiffons.

5. Keep a few necklaces made with wooden beads in warm wood tones handy. These can be worn with your kitschy combinations, and will complement the outfit rather than make it look too crowded. So grab one o these when you’re in a hurry or can’t decide what to wear with one of these crazy combos.

6. Wear jewellery that you’ve made. I have this necklace that my mother and I made with multiple strings of hand-rolled magazine beads and wear it whenever I want to notch up the craziness of my outfits ;-). You could even try jewellery made with painted macaroni or polymer clay.

7. While it’s fine to have a jewellery box overflowing with all kinds of earrings, all you need is a few pairs of ear baubles - dangling or clip on, to wear with your saris. I keep a couple of pair of silver earrings on hand as well as a few others made with beads. I team these up with different kinds of saris and don’t really feel the need to buy pair after pair to create my sari look.

8. Think out-of-the-box when it comes to footwear. You don’t have to always wear Cinderalla’s impossibly beautiful glass slippers aka the fanciest of footwear to make your sari look good enough. If you’re wearing a cotton sari, try teaming it up with a pair of slip-on sneakers (yeah, you heard right). Or, if you’re wearing a raw silk sari, try slipping into a pair of boots. Bring out those kolhapuris and mojris when you’re in a light chiffon or just wear your favorite flat leather sandals.

Just one or two jholas/batuas are enough to complete your look. I particularly favor a handmade tote crafted out of patchwork cloth as well as a small gold crochet batua that I use for some of the fancier occasions.

9. Don’t ‘ladyfy’ the sari so much that you have to put together a separate set of accessories and footwear just for it. The sari is versatile and willing to adjust, so do give it a chance to do so.

What kind of eclectic styles do you sport with your sari?

And while we’re on the topic of reusing and recycling, here’s a way to even reduce that pile of old saris tucked away at the back of your closet. Check out our Facebook Page to help with what you don’t need.

#100sareepact #sari #saristyle #sareemovement #sareefordignity

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Doodle Drama

Ever since I could grasp a pen, I have been drawing and doodling. 

Some of my earliest sketches peak out at me from old family albums and from within the folds of crumbling notebooks. Friends and family in the form of stick figures, geometrical houses, whirling dust storms and flower-filled gardens, renditions of the kinds of things I would see around me.

Over the years, I’d move through phases when I’d fill sketchbooks with my drawings and then set the whole thing aside for months at a time, depending on what my father expected from my art skills. A self-taught and accomplished artist himself, he had a certain idea of art and how it should look, all of which I flouted and rebelled against by putting aside my drawing tools and letting the artist in me hibernate. So there’d be chunks of time when I’d draw and draw, filling up pages with pictures of my current favorite storybooks or comic strips, followed by a barren phase, when paper and pens would be stowed away.

That pattern of prolific drawing interspersed with long periods of hibernation continued till a few months back, maybe out of habit or because I’d move on to another new project to keep me occupied. It’s only recently that I decided to draw more regularly, daily when possible, weekly when I could. I also decided to get an art education. Not the art college kinds because I know that would bring back the rebel in me, but the kind where you learn from an artist whose work you enjoy.

So here I am today, finally letting myself be the artist I always thought I’d be, learning, absorbing and drawing from my daily life. Flowers from my garden, leaves and sprigs from my potted plant collection, curly-haired girls in breezy summer frocks, clouds that roll in with rains on their shoulder.

I’m sharing some of the pictures here and will post more every now and then. If you’d like me to draw a flower from your garden or illustrate a story you have made up, drop me a line here in the comments section or message me via my Facebook page

Monday, August 29, 2016

5 Tips to get you started on the Sari + Spectacles combo

Till a few months ago, I held the same notion as a lot of women. The idea that glasses cannot be paired with a sari. 

I would scrabble for my contact lens, hastily popping them in because I just didn’t want to sport a pair of spectacles while dressing up in my sari. Though I’ve grown quite comfortable with my glasses (I’ve been wearing them since I was 8 years old and yes, I did eat my carrots) and don’t just write them off as home-wear, when it came to decking up for a party, I’d stuff them back in their case, truly believing that a marriage between glasses and saris was just not that conducive.

However, these past few months, I’ve developed a new sort of respect for my glasses. I’ve been choosing spectacles over contact lens because the latter has been making my eyes dry, and what started as a quest for comfort has developed into a wholesome respect for this necessary accessory.

Gingerly experimenting, I also started wearing them with saris, and soon discovered that they actually notch up my sari style. And they actually bring out the true me – a nerdy sari girl, who’s equal parts introvert and extrovert.

So, if you wear spectacles too (or thinking of getting a pair as an accessory), but haven’t tried teaming them up with a sari, then here are 6 tips to get started:

Choose a spectacle frame that you really like and that suits your face. While some inputs from the salesperson is okay, finally go in for a pair that you like the most. Because if you don’t like it much now, you’re sure to not wear it once you bring it home.

Darker or thicker frames go better with saris than rimless ones. This is just my opinion based on what I’ve observed over the years as a spectacle wearer, but I do feel that spectacle frames in black, brown, tortoise shell, wine red, deep blue and dark gray look so much more apt with saris. (However, if you’re more comfortable with rimless ones or with frames in very light colors, then that’s totally up to you.)

Get the right kind of lenses for your glasses. If you wear powered spectacles, do ask the person at the optical shop to lay out the options for you. There are a variety of lenses in the market today, and I like to use lenses that are light, easy to clean, smudge-free, has UV rays protection, and does not reflect back. This cuts out eye strain and the constant annoyance at having to clean it every second.

Define your eyes with kohl before you wear your spectacles. Or, if you enjoy more elaborate eye makeup complete with mascara and eye-shadow, then a smoky look will go well with your glasses.

Avoid using eye makeup that smudges easily because then there’ll be smudges on your glasses and believe me, it is tedious to keep cleaning them all the time.

All you need to do is wear your glasses with saris a few times before feeling more comfortable with this pairing. So, go ahead and tap that inner geeky diva inside you with this sari + spectacles look.

What holds you back from wearing glasses with saris? What kind of spectacle styles do you like? Hope over to our Facebook Page to let us know or write a comment below.

#saristyle #100sareepact #saree #sariandspectacles #sareewithglasses

Thursday, August 25, 2016

11 ways to say "No" to gossip

Let’s get to the point. Gossip is woven into the fabric of our lives, whether we like it or not. We attract it, indulge in it, abhor it. It follows us around as we make our way around the office (if you have gossipers there); peeps out from across the wall, when we live in tightly-knit communities with glass houses and time spooling out in luxurious swirls. It can follow us around like a faithful puppy, hold us captive like a dress two sizes small, remind us how painful it can sometimes be, like a shoe that's too tight.

We get chastised for indulging in gossip, or even for attracting it. And if you let it, it can tie you up in knots, making you flounder with self-doubt at every step. So what do you do, when the tentacles of gossip promise to hold you in its cold embrace? Whatever you do, don't spend too much of your precious time getting a headache or feeling desperately low. 

Here’s what I do when gossip comes calling:

1. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild, precious life?” – Mary Oliver. Write this and put it up around the house. It’s true isn’t it, that the time we have on earth is precious and it makes absolutely no sense frittering it away, fretting about what others think of us or expect out of us.

2. Spread joy. Like anyone, I often get bothered when a scrap of gossip is thrown my way. But I do understand that the gossip-creators may get some sort of happiness from their flirtation with negativity. So if this spreads joy in someone’s life, if gossiping about me gives someone something to do, as worthless as it may be, then so be it. As long as they are happy and I am happy, that’s all that really matters.

3. Stay inspired. In my work as a journalist, I often meet people who are making a change in this society, by working towards a cause or helping others. It’s amazing what some people do with their time. We all have 24 hours, but while some spend it gossiping or worrying too much about what others say, there are those who are making a huge difference in this world. And I realize that I have a choice about what I can do with my time, and I graciously choose the latter.

4. Be grateful. I have so much of gratitude for what I have – my family, my talents and creativity, a certain sense of grounding and spirituality. I would be a fool to let any of this get tarnished because of what others expect or talk about me.

5. Acknowledge the suffering in the world. While I do not enjoy reading newspapers full of calamity reports, I am well aware of the suffering that is a daily part of this world and the lives of fellow humans. Just this acknowledgement can put things in perspective and I understand how self-created issues like gossip are.

6. You are the boss of you. I’m known to be a bit of a rebel, but really, I don’t believe that anything negative that anyone says about me, should make me change my ways (unless it’s harmful). Others’ opinions are just that – opinions and that’s where I like to keep them, at an arm’s distance.

7. What others think of you is none of your business. I mean really, if it’s their business, why should you really pay much heed to it anyway? We can’t control others' thoughts and words, and also, this is a free country, so just turn the other way and find other meaningful things to do.

8. Stay loose (i.e don't get uptight about it). Can tying yourself up in knots, worrying about what people will think stop others from thinking or talking? Since it can’t, lead life on your own terms. As long as you’re kind and not going out of your way to hurt anyone, everything should be okay.

9. Find things to do that involve your passions. Art, social work, writing, craft, yoga – invest your time in positive things, and you’ll see the difference it makes.

10. Stop the curiosity cycle. Do we need to know what others are saying about us behind our backs? Does that enrich our lives in anyway? If it doesn’t, the next time a whiff of gossip comes riding on the north wind, just turn away and find something else to talk about.

11. And lastly, what you don’t know, can’t hurt you.

Tell us how you dismiss gossip, at our Facebook Page.

#gossip #toxic #staypositive #happiness #beyourself
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