Welcome to Girl Talk! Every few weeks, Priyanka, Payal and I will get together to chat on this platform. We dedicate the first edition of this series to one of our fave fashion things — the sari. Happy reading! (Feel free to share your sari stories)
Do you know how to wear a sari?
Priyanka: Yes, but my draping skills need work. I still need help with my pleats and can’t get them to crisply fall in line as they do with my mom. Thank God for the new age designers who are making casual drapes okay again…!
Shradha: Yes! Saris are my jam and as a life hack expert, I have found ways to wear a sari in under a minute, without a mirror and with zero safety pins!
Payal: For the most part, but pleats can still be a struggle sometimes. I still envy my mother’s ability to get it right in just 5 minutes.
When was the last time you wore one?
Priyanka: A couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t wait for an occasion to break out my new Rimzim chord sari so went ahead and wore it at home. It pairs well with a glass of full-bodied red. :)
Shradha: Last month at a friend’s 40th. The dresscode was Indian but I’m pretty sure I would have worn one even without the nudge. It was a black Sabyasachi from back in 2006 and I tripped on the dance floor only once!
Payal: Last Sunday. Paired a Raw Mango blouse with my Fatherland sari and draped it the Bengali way.
What kind of saris do you find hard to resist?
Priyanka: Old school kanjeevarams in new colorways. (Am scouting for a gorgeous anthracite grey if anyone has leads!)
Shradha: Jewel tone kanjeevarams but sometimes I have this sudden urge to hoard chiffons. (Schizophrenic, I know.)
Payal: Having lived outside of India for the most part of my life, I didn’t really wear saris a lot. It didn’t help that was a huge tomboy growing up. I am making a conscious effort though to wear more now. I am drawn to soft cottons as they are easy to wear but you can’t go wrong with a traditional silk. It just makes you feel regal! I will always be a sucker for Orissa Handlooms but currently am on the hunt for a good vibrant Patan Patola!
Your top 5 saris?
- My wedding sari which was a lovely purple pattu with an orange border and pallu. Besides the sentimental value, it also reminds me of the hilarious conversations we all (the family) had during the sari shopping process… The choice of color was quite controversial! :p
- My first designer sari was a Sabyasachi… It was the classic white with red border one. I felt very grown up when I bought it! I remember throwing around the words “it is an investment”. :)
- Anamika Khanna printed sari with that Rajasthani motif. It is super easy to wear and drape, and works for multiple occasions. I have worn it with heavy jewelry to a wedding and more minimalistically to drinks. And it gets me compliments every single time.
- My mom had this red brocade Benarasi sari from her college days which was literally falling apart. I had it made into a skirt and wore it to my mehendi. Besides its vintage appeal, love the fact that we were able to breathe few more years of life into it.
- My sister’s wedding sari which is a pink pattu with both gold and silver zari and woven paisley motif. I don’t think I ever loved a sari as much as I did/do that one. (Also I think that’s the very first time it hit me, my sister’s all grown-up and that is part of its appeal too!)
- An ivory fabric from Calcutta. It was originally bought for a suit but it turned into a sari partly because I couldn’t find a good tailor and partly because I was lazy (Okay, mostly because I was lazy). I have worn this ‘sari’ more than 10 times because it’s just such a chameleon and feels new each time.
- A red Dhakai from my ma-in-law. I wore it on my bou bhat and more recently to my sister-in-law’s haldi. This one invariably wants me to bring out the works — shakha pola, sindoor, big bindi and a gold chain!
- A coral Benarasi by Sabyasachi. It was a wedding present from him and I love the simplicity of this sari, its classic border and contrast vintage Benarasi blouse.
- A black tulle with these supersized, convent work red roses that I inherited from my mom. It looks less fragile than it sounds but I still haven’t had the courage to wear it out!
- When I was 10, my dad bought me a ‘serious’ sari from Visakhapatnam. It was a rani pink and gold and I remember looking at it just in passing. My grandmother wrapped it in muslin and kept it away. Years later, it became my wedding sari and also the most beautiful way to commemorate my father.
- My Bichitrapuri ikat silk. It was a gift from my cousins at my wedding.
- My yellow Sampalpuri inherited from my mother. It’s light as a feather.
- I have a black and gold Baluchari and I love it, not just for the pallu that says a story but just how striking and timeless the color combo is.
- My Anavila linen that helped jumpstart my love again for saris!
- Though one is not a sari anymore, on one of my trips to Cochin, I bought two Kasavu saris and transformed one into a suit. I love them both!
Next on your sari shopping list?
Priyanka: An Anavila linen or a Rashmi Varma draped number.
Shradha: An ivory tone-on-tone chikankari sari. But like a basic white tee, it’s surprisingly hard to find!
Payal: A Patan Patola. But given that is mostly hot in Texas, I need to find me some soft cottons that I can wear more often. Decisions. Decisions. Le sigh.
Who is your sari icon?
Priyanka: I know this answer seems like a cop-out but I love anyone who wears a sari like I would a jeans and tee… Effortlessly, and matter of factly. I have grown up surrounded by women who wore saris all their lives without once seeming like they need something fresher, newer, different. Saris were a routine and never once did it seem stale. Women in my life aside, MGD in her chiffon saris- what I want to be when I grow up. Konkona with a cross-body slung across just so, so easy! Roohi (Jaikishan) or Natasha (Poonawala) wearing their saris with a twist and how! Make me want to try too. Shobhana Bhartia who wears hers like a boss! Maria, Mini, Kangana who all make it look easy and fun! These are all names top of my head.
Shradha: My grandmother who never wore anything but a sari. My aunts who wore organza as if it was an easy knit, Manish Malhotra’s heroines who made the sari so sexy on screen and Sabyasachi Mukherjee. I don’t think I would have learned to love and wear the sari the way I did had he not made me rethink the sari. Of late I’m also obsessed with the way Kangana Ranaut wears a sari.
Payal: My mom! As a banker, she would wear saris every day to work and just make it look so easy. I particularly remember her from when she worked in the Middle East, where she would wear these cream saris with the Ganga Jamuna border to work everyday. The bank had this dress code to include red and green somehow to match the flag colors. I remember it A) Because the work culture then wasn’t very open to women wearing saris. They thought it was too revealing. Eye roll! B) Because it still didn’t stop her from wearing them! She was and still is a rockstar!
What kind of blouses do you love & what kind are you least likely to wear?
Priyanka: Currently am smitten by those old school blouses with sleeves that hit just above the elbow, high-back and a v-neck up in front. I’m least likely to wear a sweetheart neckline that features an illusion panel and sheer embellished sleeves. I saw this recently and am still a little scarred by it.
Shradha: I don’t experiment with blouses at all. I wear either three-quarter sleeve blouses with a modest round neck or sleeveless blouses with a deep back. They are on the opposite sides of the spectrum but the only two styles that work for me. I’m least likely to wear blouses that are ‘over-designed’. (I have to admit that not so long ago, I bought a Forever 21 black crop top to wear in an a SOS sari situation!)
Payal: I like the classic sari blouse design. Of late, loving the Raw Mango ones. What I don’t like are ones with heavy bling designs or crazy cutout patterns on the back.