Knotted, draped and deconstructed: styling saris like top Bollywood actresses

Somewhere between cultural pride and rows of cultural appropriation – the six yards of hand-woven sari that we fondly claim as “quintessential Indian wear” has never failed to impress the wearer or the onlooker. While the West might be obsessing over the stealth wealth power clothing currently, for centuries Indian women have flaunted saris as a subtle way to show off pride and prosperity. This year is all about turning up the heat with saris that redefine the game, making the ancient art of draping a whole lot sassier and simpler. From the gold and silver zari borders to the exquisite zardozi, tilla, and fine ari work, women from royal and elite families commissioned expensive saris for special occasions, and this festive season we take a look at how Bollywood actresses celebrated this remarkably versatile garment in style. 

Sari for style: Forget about dull and boring – this year, saris are shouting out the headlines! Surface prints inspired by the world’s chaos, art scenes, and the latest buzzworthy issues are stealing the spotlight. Abstract designs, traditional motifs, and even sassy quotations are making their mark. Your sari isn’t just an outfit; it’s a statement, darling! Imagine a world where you can slip into a sari without summoning a squad of experts or performing acrobatics to get that pleat just right. Well, folks, welcome to the era of pre-draped saris! No more wrestling with yards of fabric; just zip it up or hook it from the side, and voila! You’re draped and ready to roll. And get this – they come with pockets! Yup, you heard it right. Pockets for your essentials, because who needs a purse when your sari’s got your back?

Sheen and shine: For women blessed with curvy and hourglass body types, a sari is the perfect formal attire that can be draped in multiple ways. A classic constant for festive wardrobe, saris are now being styled with belts, open jackets, dupattas, and even veils to make a statement. Aparna Thyagarajan, co-founder of Shobitam, believes silks have always taken the limelight during the festivals. She says, “Silk saris are considered auspicious and have an heirloom quality to them. Not to forget the sheen of pure silk and the glimmer of the zari bring in the right festive vibes. When it comes to popular choices, handwoven Banarasis, Kanjivarams, Gadwal silks, and Paithani lead the charts. Chiffons and georgettes are also versatile picks; just pair them with an embellished blouse, and voila! You are sure to look like a Bollywood Diva. Linen saris are picking up steam due to their versatility, comfort, and ease of maintenance. It is trendy and can be styled in numerous ways.”

Zero in on: For festivities, floral embroidery saris, pastel silk saris, organza saris, and sequined saris are popular, and designer Sejal Kamdar shares the tricks to identify the high-quality fabric in a sari. The process necessitates a combination of visual examination, tactile inspection, and a sound understanding of the various fabric types available in the market; she elaborates, “Handloom fabrics tend to be more expensive due to the quality of the threads used, while power loom fabrics can vary in terms of the quality of workmanship and yarn utilized. Premium fabrics typically possess a pleasing texture, softness, and smoothness. Pure silk fabrics are usually lighter compared to dupion silk, for instance. They are also smoother and thinner, allowing for easy folding. Examine the edges meticulously; pure fabrics exhibit well-finished edges, while polyester fabrics may have loose threads.”

With new ideas, the younger generation is opting for unconventional styles like belted saris, mermaid-style saris, open pallu saris, Gujarati-style saris, dhoti-style saris, subtly sheer saris, chic trouser saris, butterfly saris, pre-stitched gown-style saris, metallic saris, fringe saris, and colour-blocked jewel-tone saris. Layering the sari with capes or jackets offers a contemporary twist while wearing a ghagra with a half sari creates a fusion look. Interestingly, reversible saris are gaining popularity too – showcasing two different colours or designs on each side, allowing the wearer to enjoy multiple variations of the garment in one single piece.

Level up with statement blouses: A blouse can make or break a fantastic sari; and, statement blouses are the best way to give it a modern touch with sublime glamour. From plunge necks to boat necks, as well as cropped tops and crisp cotton shirts, young sari lovers are jazzing up the fusion looks. For festive wear, designer Shilpi Gupta’s “Khashi Ghaat” collection celebrates the timeless craftsmanship of Benarsi weaves. Speaking about the importance of right blouse pairing, she mentions, “Each blouse, whether sleeveless or with sleeves is made with a special neckline that complements the contours of a woman’s body. To make it stand out, adorn them with unique motifs and threadwork. The uniquely designed plunge neck blouses can be worn with the saris in metallic purple, magenta, cyan blues, and yellow for an elegant look.”

So, whether you’re a sari pro or a newbie looking to dip your toes into the nine yards of magic, 2023 is your year to shine. Grab that pre-draped wonder with pockets, mix up those handloom crafts like a boss, and let your sari tell a story that’s as unique as you are. Get ready to slay, because this isn’t your grandma’s sari – this is a revolution draped in elegance! 

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