We’re all fairly well acquainted with the saree/sari; we’ve either worn some form of the beauty ourselves or seen our mothers, or our mother’s mothers wearing them. And that brings us to what truly what is striking about the saree: how it has passed the tumultuous test of time, an achievement of which not many fashion pieces can boast. Despite its inherently ethnic disposition, somehow the saree has evolved with impeccable panache to stand tall as one of the most versatile pieces in Indian fashion.
Let’s take a few steps back…
The saree is essentially draped fabric – its length can vary from anywhere to 4.5 to 8 meters. Interestingly, the actual origin of the saree can be traced all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilization where we see a saree-like drape on the excavated figurines. Since then, one can clearly find the presence of sarees in various ancient scriptures – particularly Jain and Buddhist.
Originally, it was used as an unstitched piece of fabric, so much so that it was considered that stitching it would dilute its purity – clearly we have come a long way since then! The saree look transformed most during the colonial era when we were introduced to typically European aspects like a ‘blouse’ and ‘petticoat’. Over time, the saree continued to spread its reach – being cleverly adapted across the sub-continent to match vagaries in climate, styles, and preferences.
Let’s look at saree draping styles…
Given the diversity of sarees styles from across India, we would never be able to cover them all, but here is a snapshot of the most popular ones:
- Nivi (from Andhra Pradesh)
Perhaps one of the most recognizable of all saree styles, it is an elegant and royal saree drape that has a beautiful way of accentuating one’s curves in all the right ways!
Another very popular option for saree draping, the Bengali style is characterized by a box pleat in the front with a pallu thrown over the right shoulder.
- Nauvari (from Maharashtra)
This style drapes the sarees in a way that parts around the legs to create a dhoti at the bottom and is worn as a typical saree on the top. One of the best examples of the nauvari saree is demonstrated by lavani folk dancers. It permits easy movement of the legs accentuating every move of the wearer elegantly.
- Mohiniattam (from South Indian states)
This look’s star feature is the pleats worn as a skirt at the bottom – from the top, it looks similar to the typical Nivi style saree
- Gujarati style
This look emulates a lehenga at the bottom and features a broader pallu drape around the waist and shoulders
Other popular saree draping styles are the Parsi (for their Gara saree), the Konkani style that involves a wrap around the waist, a traditional style from Kerala that features a wrap around the upper body, and more!
The modern avatar of sarees
Sarees have wonderfully adapted themselves to the 21st century. Whether it is contemporary prints, unique drapes or handloom fabrics, like Kantha and Jamdani donning a chic style, we are surrounded by beautiful saree pieces that seamlessly match the modern fashion aesthetic. Take, for example, the beautiful saree lehenga that combines the ghagra look with the saree look – it’s striking, relevant to today’s style and easy to manage.
Sarees today have evolved in a stunning way that brings together easy to manage fabrics, with motifs like stripes, and styles like color blocking.
Aditri’s curated range of handloom sarees is a wonderful example of just this – click here to have a look!