Friday, September 5, 2014

6 Myths about the Sari

ByLoom

Yesterday, there was this interesting conversation happening at a friend’s page on a social media network. All about desi style. The kurti, sari, big bindi, kolhapuri (handcrafted slippers), big jhumkas (Indian-style chandelier earrings) and jhola (traditional handmade bags in India) look. The kind of look I love, and was surprised to read, that several other women love too.

For years, I’ve found myself alone in my love for the desi look. Oh yes, I do wear maxi dresses or treggings occasionally, but my preferred go-to ensemble is anything Indian, natural (fabric) and hand woven. I favor saris (6 yards of handloom fabric) heavily, my wardrobe and boxes bursting at the seams with them. I team these gorgeous beauties with embroidered blouses, lots of chunky silver and wooden jewelry, and a big bindi. While I’m confident and happy in this kind of attire and wear this to parties, malls, restaurants and work do’s, I’ve noticed that just wearing something that’s so Indian (in India!) and not fitting into the standard style mold, attracts all sorts of reactions.



From compliments like “wow, you’ve nailed that journalistic look” and “you’re looking chic” and “you can carry off a sari” to non-compliments like “why couldn’t you wear what others are wearing i.e. western casuals” and “you’re too young for a sari” and “let me teach you how to look stylish in slit skirts/trousers/jeans (fyi – I already know how to, but don’t choose to often)”, I’ve heard it all.

ByLoom

Wearing a sari as a young woman in the nation of its origin takes guts. Draping yourself in a sari, and walking into a sea of trousers, skirts and cocktail dresses takes all your self-confidence because at that party/meeting/interview, you’ll be the only one in the so-called traditional attire. And most (from what I've experienced) of Young Urban India doesn’t do traditional attire or doesn't find it acceptable/cool/normal.

So, while I have absolutely no issues if the women at the given occasion choose a dress/skirt/trouser to deck up in, I do have something to say if I’m given that “you must be out of your mind” look for having chosen a sari over a skirt or trouser.

This is what I have to say, to all those of you who love the sari and would like to wear it more often, but don’t for the fear that you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

Here are the myths woven around the sari…the myths I’ve come across more often than less. Myths that often eat into our personal sari style, egging us to dress like everyone else, to not stand out, to shy away from the sari.

ByLoom

Myth: The sari is boring!
Truth: It’s as versatile and unique as ever. There’ll hardly be two saris of the same kind on the face of earth, especially if these are woven on a loom by a weaver. You can dress it up or down, depending on the occasion. You can choose fabrics to suit the season. You can feast on a HUGE variety of designs and styles, and wear whichever suits your mood.

Myth: You can’t do casual in a sari.
Truth: Are you sure? Because I think you can and so do other ardent sari wearers. You don’t have to break out that heavy brocade and silk sari for a cocktail evening or dinner at a restaurant or a trip to the mall. You don’t have to load up on the gold. But you can do casual in a breezy hand woven cotton, in a gossamer chiffon, in a light georgette. Accessorize with fun jewelry and a jhola, and slip into a comfortable pair of kolhapuris to complete the look. The big bindi is optional J.

Myth: It takes ages to wear a sari.
Truth: It need not. Sure, when you’re just starting out, a sari can take up to an hour to drape, leaving you frazzled and sweaty – not the look you’re aiming for. But wear it a few more times, try it several more times at home when you don’t have to be rushing anywhere, and learn a few tricks to tuck and pleat, and you’ll be good to go in 5 minutes flat. I can promise you that.

ByLoom

Myth: Saris cannot be go-to garments for young women.
Truth: So not true. We’ve imposed this mantra on ourselves, when all it takes is a bucket load of confidence to walk out into the world in a sari and change this notion, one step at a time. Like I said before, choose your saris well and accessorize to create a cool look. Team your saris with a blouse that stands out (with mirror work, embroidery, applique) and own your look.

Myth: Saris are only great for a collection.
Truth: They do look great in a collection, especially if you’ve garnered a whole range from across the country. But they’re even better to wear. I feel a little sad for all those beautiful saris lounging in everyone’s wardrobes and boxes, waiting for a rare chance to be flaunted. As Indian women, we’ve retained our love for the sari and nurture it by buying more and more of them. But we shy away from wearing them often, keeping them aside for those oh-so-formal parties (in the services, it is mandatory to wear a sari to these kind of galas) or temple visits or weddings.

Myth: You’re weird if you’re wearing a sari to a restaurant/mall/movie/cocktail evening (i.e. ‘non-sari places & events).
Truth: Ah, I get that often, but really can’t understand it. As long as you’re not judging another’s choice of outfit and as long as you’re wearing your sari with panache, it really shouldn’t matter. After all, the sari is yet another outfit and not a costume for a few chosen occasions. But I know this myth will take ages to fade, if at all.

 Disclaimer: This blog post in no way discourages anyone from giving up Western outfits.

A Big Thank You: Dear ByLoom - thank you so much for letting me use photographs from your collection. 

If you have any specific question on wearing/styling a sari, send those to me via my Facebook page  or drop me a line on Twitter @chandanawriter.

#sari #desistyle #personalstyle

17 comments:

  1. Just thinking how deeply we are involving in the western culture, that wearing sari - our traditional dress, makes "few people" feel weird, they consider them bored, outdated... !!

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  2. Thank you for writing this piece! It makes so much sense...I love the saree and have always been at the receiving end of comments about how I dress up like a 'jhalli journalist' with the cotton & khadi garments and jhola bags.
    It is a sad thing that we need to find excuses like a wedding or a pooja to wear this beautiful garment.

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    1. Sanika thank you for sharing this. But hey, you go girl. Wear those handloom fabrics, break out those saris, sling on those jholas. The journalist look rocks!

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  3. I love the Sari! There are a few women in our PTA group that wear them regularly and are going to teach us about them at an upcoming parent carousel when they talk to us about Indian culture. I am very excited...I think it is gorgeous and love when I see women in them...especially if they are in a great fabric like some of those pictured above! Great post!

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    1. Kate - this is so amazing! You're going to enjoy wearing a sari, I promise. It's luxurious, sexy, smart, gorgeous...and makes women look like divas. Do let me know how the sari session goes of.

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  4. I love the Sari and you look absolutely gorgeous! I love all of the colors and it looks really comfortable. I'm not Indian, but I feel like going out and getting my own.

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    1. Tricia...you should. It really is comfortable once you learn how to wear it and then get used to it. It's such a treat to wear a handwoven sari.

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  5. I can well understand your feelings. When we came to live in Pune 20 years ago, I encountered a similar attitude even in the women of our generation. Many of my contemporaries considered themesleves ‘hep’ because they were switching over to Capris, skirts and trousers. Not having any of those, I clung with tenacity to my 6 yards…mostly cotton…and somehow over the years, it was considered a style statement…and the first enthusiastic compliment came, surprisingly from a male – our media photographer at Indian Express. He said, “I think we should do an article on you and your cotton sarees!”
    So carry on. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, and whatever you feel looks good on you. That is true style!

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  6. I was a no saree or a no mekhla-chaddor girl prior my marriage.Being in forces, I need to wear one for formal occasions. Every time I wear my traditional mekhla, people would admire nd thus started loving wearing them.Now, I love all handwoven ones.look fr a traditional ones.Thanks to Chandana, who madw it versatile. keep rocking, girl. After all, saree is the most glamorous attire.

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  7. I will admit, I dont wear a sari because I can never get it right. I am petrified that it will slide off so I tie the "saya" so tight that I almost bleed. Somebody should do something about that "saya", I hate that string digging into my waist or the area where the waist is supposed to be. It looks ridiculous when you drape 6 yards around your ample frame, not having a clue about which way the pleats go or how big or small the pleats should be, not to mention the pallu's length and kind of drape.Tieing a sari is an art and when not done gracefully looks very sloppy. I say, start a blog or a page, to teach how to wear a sari, can be many different ways. Dont get me wrong, most people don't know how to wear a jeans either, size, color, style, anything can go wrong. I am no exception. But it is easy to put on and take off and maintain. I spent a fortune on a few fancy blouses to wear with my sarees, about 2 years ago, I am yet to touch one. This blog is now inspiring me. Maybe I should try one now. I will post a pic in FB if I am successful. :)

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    1. Hey...do wear your saris. I'm sure you'll look good in them. And I'll post some tutorials like you asked.

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  8. Love love love the writeup. Moner kotha. :)
    Added treat: the woman in the first picture is yours truly....

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  9. Parama Ghosh - WOW...so that's your pic! Thanks. Let me know if I can post more pics of u in saris for my 'Sari in Style' series. Thank you for reading.

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  10. Cant agree with you more. I love Sari and I wear it to office everyday in a formal way.
    Good read

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  11. Well after reading this. I can totally get what you have been through. I have got a lot of it from my so called friends who say ewww why aren't you in your casuals when dining with them in a saree. Or is it something special today as my colleagues question me when walking in the office corridors in a casual saree. Well I just say them it is a forgotten Indian office wear. Especially, working women in the movies likes of Rishikesh Mukherjee and all they wore saree to the office. Friends think I am not well versed with the trend be it hip hugging western outfit. Come on when I can wear a bikini to the pool, saree sounds so right in the otherwise situation.

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  12. Your jewellery is looking perfect with the sarees, a complete look of saree is with its matching jewellery. Don't you agree?
    Choose Paliwal Jewelers for Gold Jhumkas Online Shopping in India

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