You ask me one elegant traditional attire I am going to wear this festive season and I say, Saree. The drape that defines elegance and exudes divinity, accentuates the figure and drips ‘traditional’ in every thread. To most of us, this is the garment that instantly connects us to our moms and grand-moms. And to most of us, the favorite saree fabrics are the ones they draped in for years for festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, KarwaChauth, and a whole array of festivals. The sarees they collected, maintained, and passed on to us as heirloom pieces.
I have memories of Kanjeevarams, Banarasi silks, Tussar silks, Paithanis, Organzas, Mysore Silks, Narayan Peth, Chanderis, Net, Chiffons, and Georgettes. Of course, the humble yet compelling cotton cannot be forgotten. We have a legacy of very distinct weaves and fabrics that varies between states. Here’s throwing some light on these and celebrating each weave in its spirit.
Starting with the king of all weaves. As famous Banaras is for its Banarasi paan, as it is for its distinctive Banarasi silk sarees. The unparallel richness of this fine silk woven with gold or silver zari on handlooms or embroidered in natural silk threads is among the exquisite heirloom sarees of India. This sacred weave in the most favored saree for a bridal trousseau comes from the holy city of Benaras or Varanasi. Moving East to textured raw silk -Tussar or Kosa, as it is called- sarees exude the untamed spirit of the wild silkworm. The earthy textures on natural colors are delicately accentuated with a dull gold sheen, to create a warm ethereal-looking saree and an experience to match. Since it is a natural silk fiber it keeps warm in winters and cools in summers. Cool isn’t it?
While Banarasi and Tussar silks are on the delicate side, on the extravagant side are the Kanjeevarams and Pathanis from the South Central part of India. In the case of Paithani sarees, traditional motifs like peacocks, circle paisleys, elephants, birds, etc. are woven on heavy silks in rich gold threads or zari. Kanjeevaram sarees rule wedding trousseau in Southern India like Banarasi silk does in the northern part of India. Kanjeevaram owes its richness to the lustrous Mulberry Silk and the golden or silver zari. Latest in the coterie is the bronze zari work that is catching up like fire.
Creativity cannot be contained, and so was the case with Saree. It slipped out of silken hands to newer realms and into flow-y nets and georgettes, and luxurious organza, chiffons, and chanderis.
Nets are one of the sensuous sarees and a favorite for light dresses. Usually combined with satins, silks, and a few other materials or as heavily embroidered standalone these are lightweight, highly comfortable, charming, and sophisticated drapes and mostly maintenance-free (love that part in a saree 😀). Fitting in the ‘easy-on-maintenance’ frame is also the lovely georgette. Easy to drape, this saree is gracefully sheer, lightweight, and silky finish, and no wonder is a popular choice for young girls. A great investment, for the days when you do not want to wear a heavy saree.
Now if your choice lies in charisma, subtlety, and delicateness then you can choose between organza, chanderi, or chiffon. All three are known for light weightiness, and crispness and they have been seen in royal wardrobes during medieval times. Chanderi sarees have roots in the Mahabharat era and are evolved in the way they are woven. They are produced from pure silk, Chanderi cotton, and silk cotton threads and patterned with traditional coins, peacocks, floral designs, etc using fine silk, and gold and silver brocade or zari. The transparency of this fabric and its sheerness makes them sensuous drapes.
The semi-sheer chiffons are the super light fabric that falls beautifully on your curves. We all remember Kajol fluttering her chiffon pallus on icy mountains. It is that easy to maintain and handle. If you aim for a classy, feminine, and elite look you are looking for Organza. The fabric that looks soft outside is quite a tough one. With the firm fall and a see-through surface, the fabric has a Victorian feel and brings together the old-world charm with the modernity of today’s world.
Well, it cannot end here. There’s so much to our rich culture and its weaves that this cannot end here...but for the time being. Meanwhile, the festivities have already started in India and we are all buying our dream drapes. These are all available online. Our recommendation is to buy your sarees only from a trusted website store. Odette is one such trusted brand. Get your saree now, shine in it and then pass it on to the generations and let the tradition of heirlooms die not.