Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sari Love - Sadiya Kazmi and the soul of her sari style

Hello Sari-istas! I’m back with another sari love guest, and am happy to introduce Sadiya Kazmi, a social activist, fellow service wife and a friend. I love her casual chic sari style and the way she carries of her handwoven saris with elan. Like any fauji wife, Sadiya, lives and works from all across, and is currently based in Abu Dhabi.

 Sadiya, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Whatever I tell about myself has to be related to my love for sarees because whatever I do ,who I am and what I think is connected with my soul. And the word saree is just as much part of my soul and wraps up within its folds, everything I am and everything I do.

I take great pride in what I do - I am a social activist by profession. I chose this because staying true to oneself is very important for me in order to keep my sanity and honesty intact in my life. I work mostly with children and women, and take theatre workshops because that's what I am by nature and profession - a street theatre artist. My work allows me to share my belief and sentiments with. I choose social issues to portray in my theatre, something which I strongly feel about and love to spread this social awareness. It gives me immense pride when the concept is embraced enthusiastically by the people I work with .

And when I use words like enthusiasm, embrace, believe and soul, I feel like it's important to mention that I associate these with my love for sarees. I am married to an Air force Officer and I should give a lot of credit to my life as being a part of this organization that helped me build my confidence in wearing the saree the way I do today. I have been married for almost 19 years now and cannot imagine having embarked on this journey without tirelessly trying to prove that I can carry a saree and I love it.

 What does the sari mean to you, and what’s your sari style all about?

I stay connected with every saree I own because every time I drape it, every fold is an effort towards perfection and elegance that one needs to acquire as a proud Indian woman. It's the tradition, it's the history, it’s decades old of said and unsaid stories of women of all ages within the folds and weave of sarees. It's a part of our upbringing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sari Love – Priya Kadapa Shah and her eclectic sari style

Here's my next guest at Sari Love - Priya Kadapa Shah, an entrepreneur and educator from Mumbai, who wears her eclectic collection of handloom saris with panache.

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

I am a chartered accountant by profession, and a teacher by occupation. I run a coaching academy and teach accounts, costing, economics, finance and taxation as well as French to college students. And hopefully influence their career choices and also open up their horizons. I love finding new talent and promoting them and I help to organize exhibitions for designers. I am a voracious reader and a closet writer:)

I stay in Mumbai, with my husband who is perpetually travelling ;)and two kids- my daughter is 12 and son is 7.

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

It's elegant with a dash of quirkiness and ethnic with a blend of the contemporary.

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

I am hard core cotton Saree person , I love Sarees that are thick and rough with a body and a texture. In silks, again I prefer thick silks like a Kanjeewaram or desi tussar or raw silks.

I don't really look for an occasion to wear a Saree- I think a Saree for me is an integral part of my life and wardrobe . I have worn Sarees on school runs, while grocery shopping, meeting friends and of course for family functions and social gatherings. And even on the beach as a sarong and with a jacket in the mountains.

Do you wear the sari the simple way, where you use what you have to create new styles or do you enjoy a more decadent style, with different kinds of blouses/jewellery/footwear (Please share photos)?

I wear it the simple way and have also worn it in newer styles for the fun element or to jazz up the old Saree by giving it a new drape.And yes, blouses are a great way to make the same Saree look different. I also love using accessories- could be Jewellry, or shoes or handbags or even sunglasses to add to my look. Doing my hair in different ways is also something I have experimented with along with newer Saree styles to jazz up the look.

What’s an interesting way to accessorize the sari, as per you?

One piece of statement Jewellry - could be earrings or a neckpiece or a hair accessory - and since I have a bag fetish- a bag that's too not too big or too small- and which matches the aesthetics of the Saree. Try using clutches, slings, jholas, ethnic totes, potlis- I tend to avoid very western looking glossy bags with the Sarees I wear. A proper bag will add so much more to the look of the Saree.

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

Start by wearing it once a fortnight for " non-occasions"- this will help to reduce your trepidation and people around you will get used to seeing you in a Saree :)

Wear it for your work or even at home or to a school meeting - you will get habituated to wearing it and working in it.

And trust me , the appreciation and compliments , said and unsaid that a Saree  invariable garners , will propel you further :)

Let your inner goddess shine!

Anything that you’d like to add?

A Saree is one of the most fluid and versatile garments - it hides and it shows. It conceals the flaws and displays the assets. It's such a forgiving and feminine attire and we have the shape to flaunt it :).

Join us at our Facebook page for a regular dose of sari style.

#saristyle #sarilove #sari #saree #handloomsari 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

6 Ways to carry off a super short hairstyle with your sari

I remember a friend growing out her hair. “I want to start wearing saris and a short hairstyle just won’t do,” was her reply.

At that time, I had longer hair and it made me wonder if chopping off my locks would affect how I’d look in a sari. Or rather, should it have an impact on my sari wearing or how I carried off the garment?

Fast forward a few more years - I had traded my barely long locks for a Paige boy cut, and was falling in love with the sari. After wearing saris with my short hairstyle, that’s swung between a longish paige boy cut to super short pixie cut, here are some ways that I get my sari look right with short hairstyle.

1. I make sure I get a good if not great hair cut. (Why I even settle for decent over perfect is that I move all across the country, and it’s only through trial and error that I discover some stylists who can do justice to a very short hair style. I’ve had the honor of going to some very well-known hair salons only to come out with a haircut that looked very much like the Gollywog’s. At the same time, I’ve gone to some very small places and come back with a haircut that’s made heads turn.) So, while the outcome of a haircut isn’t always mine to predict, I do feel if you’re wearing your hair short, a good haircut can make all the difference.

2. I use a kohl pencil to define my eyes. Most of the time, it’s the only eye make-up I do, but it makes all the difference and adds an edge to one’s face and even hair style.

3. Wear jhumkas or dangling earrings. Go wild and try very large earrings because with short hair, these will look awesome!

4. Wear a big, round bindi or a really intricate one. I favor the red, rising-sun like bindis, or lately, have been trying out orbs in black and other colors.

5. Wear a chunky nosepin or even a nath, if you like. With short hair, it’s all about breaking the stereotypes, and mixing a look that’s considered ‘western’ with the traditionalism of a sari.

6. Alternatively, if you want to do without a bindi or earrings, try just simple pearl tops for your ears, but a beautiful, statement necklace to play the contrast.

How do you like to style your sari look around a short hairstyle?

Join us on our Facebook Page for more tips and tricks on how to style your sari more sustainably.

#shorthairstyle #shorthair #saristyle #styleyoursari 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sari Love - Lyuba of Saree Times

Hello Sari-istas! It's been a while since the last Sari Love post. But here I am with a brand new interview with a sari-loving gal from Clovis, New Mexico. I got to know her through a message that she'd left after reading one of my sari posts and was pleasantly surprised to connect with another sari-crazy lady (the other sari-crazy person is me of course ;-)) from across the world. She wears the sari with just as much panache or more, and sports this garment with flair in a country where sari is not the norm.

 Ladies, I'm pleased to introduce you to Lyuba Johnson of Saree Times and her passion for handwoven saris. If ever you dither to wear a sari or wonder if it’s the right ‘occasion’ to wear one, Lyuba’s sari philosophy will nudge you to create your own special sari moments that are dear to you.
Q. Hello Lyuba! Please tell us more about yourself – where do you live, what do you do for work, your interests.

I’m originally from Ukraine, but currently live in Clovis, New Mexico, with my husband and three cats. I work for a nonprofit company that provides early intervention services. I run a Saree Times FB page and Instagram, but my other major interest includes Japanese kimono and my cats.

Q. How did you get introduced to the sari and fall in love with this garment that even several women in India find difficult to drape and carry off?
I grew up watching Bollywood movies in Ukraine, so I think my interest in saris was always in the back of my mind. What pushed me into finally giving sari a try was as simple and boring as my best friend in Ukraine telling me that she got a sari for herself.

Q. Where do you buy your saris from + source your blouses and all the accouterments that go with a sari (petticoats, sari falls etc.)?
When I first started collecting saris, I went with some major online retailers and bought the cheapest ones to try and figure out what “my style” was and what I liked. The saris were fine, but blouses were more miss than hit with the stitching. After a while I started an Instagram for SareeTimes and discovered all the Instagram sellers that specialize in handloom and, I believe, work directly with weavers. I was hooked, and now I shop though them only. These same sellers are amazing when it comes to blouses too, and I ask them to do fall/pico and petticoat whenever I get a new saree.
Anytime I visit a major city in the USA I look up potential sari shops and make a point to stop there. In fact, my favorite sari came from one of the shops I visited in Austin, Texas.
Q. What kind of saris do you love the best?
After I discovered cotton handloom saris, I have a hard time wearing anything else. The cottons are just perfect for our hot dry climate, and I am in love with the different colors and designs of the handlooms that I find. Recently I ended up buying few Khesh saris, which are quickly becoming my favorite because the idea of reusing old saris by adding them to new ones has a tremendous appeal to me.

Q. How do you create your sari style?
I discovered many years ago that I preferred clothes that were much more understated by themselves, but by combining them with interesting accessories I was able to coordinate outfits that would stand out when it’s all put together. The saris that draw my attention are almost always pretty plain by themselves. I don’t like big borders and a lot of gold. I will seek out saris that are either borderless or have a thin border. I love single colors and geometric designs, but at the same time I’m not afraid of bright colors.
I love pairing up contrast blouses with saris, and then throwing in a hat or a large tote bag. I’m not a big fan of jewelry, except statement bangles. Even bangles start to get in my way after couple of hours, so I end up taking them off.
Comfort is very important to me when it comes to saris. I always pleat and pin the pallu so it doesn’t get in a way. If it’s very windy, I put a belt on to hold down pallu even more. I also rarely wear high heels with saris, instead opting for cute sandals or low heeled shoes or boots.

 Q. Where do you wear saris to and what kind of reactions do you get?

I mostly wear saris on weekends, although sometimes I would wear a sari to our “Casual Fridays” to work. Honesty, there are not many places to wear a sari in Clovis, so I create my own reasons. So far I’ve worn it to go to coffee shops, shopping trips with friends, and going to home improvement store to pick out new floors for the house or just grocery shopping.

I’ve had very positive reactions from people on the streets. I get a fair share of double takes and staring, but I also get a lot of compliments. People like how bright the saris are, and I always see smiles when I walk by.

Q. I’ve been following your posts and see that you wear saris often. What draws you to this garment and how do you wear it with such flare in a country where saris are not the regular garment of choice?
I admire and appreciate the long, rich history of saris and its beauty, but as for wearing in the style that I do, I am just being myself!  I can safely say now that I got a flare for dramatics when it comes to everyday clothes regardless of what I wear.
I don’t purchase anything specifically for saris, instead I draw on what I already have in my closet and mix and match between Indian and Western wear freely. The same accessories you see me wearing with saris, I wear with my regular dresses. I believe that this type of approach does not put saris into separate “special occasions” category, but allows to see them as just another type of everyday garment.

Q. What tips would you have for anyone who wants to wear the sari often but is conscious about how others would perceive it (this issue is very relevant for women in India too because trousers and jeans are deemed to be modern outfits to reach out for, esp. for casual occasions)?

I apologize in advance, but this list might get long.

1.      Wear the sari somewhere you feel very comfortable at and bring a friend, even if that friend is not wearing a sari. You will feel better having someone friendly around you, who will help distract you from all the attention you will be getting. After a while, you won’t even notice the attention, the double takes, and the comments, which will be mostly positive anyway. You will stop caring about what other people might think too.
2.    Practice draping the sari at home. If you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, look through many different YouTube videos until you find one that works for you. It took me a while until I found a video that made the whole draping “click” in my mind, but after I did, I suddenly felt much more confident in my sari wearing.
3.    Many videos tell you to wear high heels with your sari. If high heels are not your things, don’t think that you have to wear them. Instead, wear the shoes that are the most comfortable for you.
4.    Prepare yourself for negatives, especially if you are non-Indian. I’ve been dealing with accusations of cultural appropriation when it comes to kimono for years, but the first time I got accused of it when it came to sari was still pretty hard on me. There will be many more people who will offer you the support and will be excited that you wear saris. Focus on positives.
5.     Don’t be ashamed if it takes you many pins or clamps to drape your sari. If it makes you feel more secure and comfortable in a sari, then use as many pins as you need. Once I got better at draping, I started to use a lot less pins. You’ll get to that point too, just don’t give up.
Don’t think about wearing saris as an occasion. Think of them as everyday clothes, and wear them for your everyday things. For me it means going grocery shopping, stopping for coffee or taking my cats to the vet.  As one of my friends said very well, don’t treat your casual sari as too precious, otherwise you won’t ever be able to wear it from worrying over the potential damage that might happen.

For more of Lyuba's sari updates, find her at Saree Times.

For more sari posts and sari interviews, visit us at our Facebook Page.

And here's are the Sari Divas that we spoke to at Sari Love and the entire sari style series.

#sarilove #saristyle #handloomsari #sareetimes
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