Sumitra Selvaraj has been wearing sarees to work since she was in her twenties. And it frustrates her that weearing a saree regularly is considered somewhat odd. She believes it’s not the saree, rather the society’s perception of it that needs to be examined. And she’s been championing the cause and being part of the discussion, one saree at a time.
In this column, she shares with us her three picks for sari-wearing beginners.
Three Sarees to Start With If You’ve Never Worn One
1. Raw Silk
If you’re planning on purchasing a saree for the first time, I’ll assume that it’s to wear to an event or a special occasion. Have you considered a Raw Silk saree?
The name of the saree comes from the fact that the gummy coating on the silk filament is not removed prior to spinning, resulting in a silk yarn that is knobbly and uneven textured. This is then woven in a saree with a characteristically coarse feel, (compared to most silk sarees, which are spun from yarn made of ‘cleaned’ silk filaments) but the advantage of this is that the saree is easy to pleat and falls beautifully with little effort.
Also, the uneven texture of the saree means that light reflects off of it differently, giving Raw Silk sarees a depth of colour like no other.
In Chettinad Cotton And Raw Silk (Second From Right) Sarees
2. Chettinad Cotton
When I started working, Chettinad Cotton sarees were my choice of office wear because the price point of these sarees was extremely wallet-friendly!
Traditionally, Chettinad Cotton sarees are starched before draping, and this is what lends to its reputation of a ‘difficult’ saree. The secret of perfecting a Chettinad Cotton drape, lies in its starched countenance. Most Chettinad Cotton sarees come with a running blouse piece, which means that you need to remove a metre of fabric from the inside edge of the saree, to sew the blouse. My suggestion to you is to leave the running blouse material as is, and work with a saree that is almost 7 yards long. Make deep pleats to tuck into the waist; the deeper the pleat, the more likely it is to stay in place.
In Raw Silk And Khesh (Centre) Sarees
If you’re looking for something that doesn’t require any special treatment, my suggestion would be a Khesh; these are soft cotton sarees that utilise recycled sarees as part of the weave. Old cotton sarees are ripped by hand into rags and are woven alongside new yarn, to form a saree that is the epitome of sustainable fashion.
Khesh sarees are very plain… They are usually in a single colour and with a minimal number of narrow lines on the body and pallu. Besides the one of a kind appeal of a Khesh, the material itself feels like a well-worn t-shirt. The fabric is relatively thick (compared to a Chettinad Cotton) but instead of adding heft, the pleasing thickness of the Khesh means that the saree drapes beautifully, and doesn’t crease easily.
These three weaves are a great way to start you off on a saree discovering journey.