“I enjoy the saree. I think it’s the sexiest garment ever. It shows you the right amount, it covers the right amount, it’s extremely versatile, it suits every body type, it suits every face.”

Vidya Balan, Award-Winning Bollywood Actress

A saree is a paradox in cloth form. Its versatility as Bollywood actress Vidya Balan so aptly describes, comes from its ability to be what the desired wearer needs it to be. It has the beauty and grace of the culture of India, all within yards of woven cloth, and part of the beauty of both is that they are adaptable to the regions and their people.

The Look

Here we have a Kanjivaram or Kanchipuram saree, traditionally woven in Tamil Nadu, India. The saree is woven from pure mulberry silk thread and paired with zari, fine gold thread.

Kanjivaram / Kanchipuram saree from Polki-Dolki

On the saree spectrum, Kanjivarams are definitely one of my favorites because there is something so beautiful about this particular weaving. The level of grace I feel in these sarees also make it perfect for formal events, in this case my best friend’s Walima. The silk and zari combo brings a shine to the fabric that stands out in person and in pictures, and so with this particular blue, I felt it perfect for a beautiful spring wedding event!

This saree, from our Polki-Dolki collection (coming soon!) features a typical wide border that runs the length of the saree and a heavier pallu, or mundhi – the larger design at the end of the saree. I love the way the weaving features small petals throughout the blue with gold booties or motifs breaking up the color and adding some depth to the design. The gold majority of the pallu helps it stand out when draped over one’s arm, creating a complimentary contrast in the design. I’m a huge fan of the umbi designs on the pallu because they flow well with the floral theme of the saree and the design itself is traditional in essence.

Outfit and makeup by Akiti; hair by Salon Simran

The blouse of traditional sarees are usually adorned with the same border designs and booties so that one may get it made to match the full look. I prefer to customize my blouses to add a bit of a flare to the saree alongside the graceful borders. My mother actually designed this particular blouse by keeping the original saree blouse cloth for the bust area, sleeves, and lower back, but added an embroidered, cutwork design to cover and accentuate the back. The yellow birds add a pop of color as well to make the cutwork stand out and aptly break up the way the gold somewhat blends with my lighter skin tone. We chose mega sleeves because they work well with this fabric, look, and size of the accent borders. The front of the blouse was kept plain so that the beauty of the zari saree border would maintain as it is draped across it.

Custom blouse design by Polki-Dolki

The Accessories

I wanted the saree to be the focal point of the look, so even though it was my best friend’s wedding event, where one typically wears their heaviest outfits and jewelry, I went for more accent accessories than a large jewelry set. For my particular face structure and personality, chand balis have always been a favorite, so here I wore gold chand balis from Harsahaimal Shiamlal Jewellers in Moradabad, India adorned with diamonds, pearls, and semi-precious turquoise stones throughout. The hint of white from the pearls brightens the look, while the size of the stones maintain the delicacy of the outfit so as not to embolden it.

Chand Balis from Harsahaimal Shiamlal Jewellers in Moradabad, India

To continue with the gol (rounded) theme that stems from the floral designs in the saree and now the balis, I added a diamond and gold tikka from The Pink Bazaar. This was a brilliant find at one of their pop-up shops in New York City, and has been my go-to tikka for a variety of my desi wear. The delicate tear drop shape and smaller drops off the edge matched perfectly with the umbi design of the saree’s pallu and the droplets of my earrings.

When I chose this saree, I wanted to ensure I had two key elements in my outfit: maintain the tradition look but accentuate with modernity. To maintain the traditional aspect, I kept my hair in a non-elaborate updo with a low bun, very typical of South Indian looks with sarees (hair by Salon Simran in Dayton, NJ). To add to the modernity, I added synthetic fabric flowers that matched the antique gold and white accents of my look, instead of the usual gajras one would wear with this saree. Finally, to close out the traditional look, I coordinated a 5-inch set of chudiyan that matched my colors as a large set of chudiyan add to the look without overbearing it.

This look is perfect for any formal event, especially if it’s a traditional one like a pooja, wedding, or more conservative occasion. The hint of modernity allows you to align with the traditional with a bit of flare – adding to the beautiful paradox!

1 Comment on “Woven Paradox: A Spring Saree Story

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