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 

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