My fashionistas, there are some cliches around donning a particular type of traditional saree but they will always be welcome by me. I take pride in wearing sarees that can be trashed as Grandma’s collection or Sarees for lower-middle classes. So, here I have come up with this look for a celebration of Saraswati Puja (worshiping the goddess of knowledge, arts, dance, music and nature) and Basanta Utsav (Spring festival) in a traditional KaNtha stitch on Tussar silk saree. It is elegant, beautiful and classy.
Saree fashion is often synonymous with many cliches and some have been existing right from the time a particular type of saree came into existence. While designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee have paved way for traditional sarees, many young women still shy away from donning a KaNtha stitch on Tussar silk saree for events like wedding functions, or parties, categorizing them as ”not-so-sexy” or ”not-blingy-enough”. I believe in breaking away from the Dystopian cliché.
My elder sister has gifted me this saree some about 12 years ago. She had travelled to Pune, India and I don’t know why but she bought three identical sarees in one go-one for her, one for my mom and this one for me. Initially I thought, ok, I liked it but I may wear it when I’m in my 60’s. See how time changes and your choices! During my last trip to India, I thought to carry all my sarees and salwar-kameez collection with me to London as I know now that this is where I”ll live for the rest of my life(?). Like all sarees, this one too comes with a matching blouse piece. I wanted to break the monotone, so took the blouse piece of my another newly bought saree and used the fabric only for the sleeves as I wanted it to be transparent. The fabric on the sleeves is bamboo silk, whereas I have used raw silk on the bodice. The other day while watching a TV show, my partner had criticised the host having no fashion sense as he found the host was rather wearing a T-shirt with a saree. What he meant by a T-shirt is a blouse with a neck similar to what I’m wearing here. I instantly said, well…it’s en vogue but I agree the styling on her was wrong. There is a thin line to understand when wearing something on trend. That thin line probably explains the design on the back of this blouse and how it is accessorized with a tribal necklace on top of a front-closed-neck blouse that may otherwise be termed as ”matronly”.
Top tip: Be creative with your blouse’s cut and design when wearing a traditional saree.
What worried me most while conceptualizing this look is where will I find fresh gajras (Jasmine flower garland) in London? Here comes your best friend- Social media! I posted on the blog’s Facebook page and one of my friend and fashionista follower sent me names of the places I may find them. But as they say sometimes you get the things you wanted from the most unexpected sources. It never occured to me that I will find this supremely aromatic garlands in my local Tamil grocery store Ganpathy Cash & Carry where I often pop-up for some herbs that usually Bengalis and South-Indians eat. A pleasant find, I say!
I also had to struggle with the super stiffness of brand new tussar silk sarees like this. My fashionista followers on Facebook suggested me to give it for dry-cleaning to make it softer, it didn’t help much! One tip I came up from my own experiments is that leave it in the open air for days (in the shade- preferably in your balcony or Veranda), the natural moist in the air will make it softer.
Try a traditional KaNtha stitch tussar silk saree with layers of gajras on your hair. A bold smokey eye and pastel shade on the lips are your icing on the cake. Drop me a line at the comment section as I like to hear what you have to say.
KaNtha stitch Tussar silk saree from Pune, India (It’s a gift, don’t know the store or the brand. You can get it anywhere in India- try Adi-Dhakeshwari Bastralaya, Kolkata or Nalli Sarees)
Potli (traditional clutch bag) from Dilli Haat, New Delhi
Ring from Spitafields market, London
Slip-on from BB Mall KL, Malyasia
Gajra from Ganpathy Cash & Carry, Wembley, London
Primark tribal neckpiece
Blouse is conceptualized by me and tailored by D.S. Apparel, Part street, Kolkata.