How I, a 20-something girl, started wearing sarees to work

I almost missed my graduation ceremony because I was at the salon to get my saree draped. I didn’t trust the “eyebrow didi” (who had enthusiastically agreed to help every single girl who’d asked her in the days leading up to D-day) to find time for the relatively soft-spoken me. And I most definitely did not trust my mother’s off-white silk saree in the hands of my 21-year-old classmates who’d have a better chance of accidentally throwing the nine yards in a fictitious paper shredder than managing to get halfway through a draping exercise. So, I ended up missing my batch photograph, and just about made it to collect my certificate and award.

Five years later, today, I can (almost) drape a saree in my sleep and get through a day without fearing a minor wardrobe malfunction every time I have to do a little more than breathe. So, what brought about this shift? Apart from an all-prevailing boredom with the contents of my closet (yes, really), an innate need to experiment with my look, and one of Anavila’s earlier shows (where linen sarees actually looked super comfy!), it was an admiration of the simple elegance with which the Maharashtrian ladies on the local trains carried themselves; their neatly parted hair, gajras, gold hoops and sensibly draped sarees (no floating pallus, please) inspired in me the need to emulate their effortless aesthetic. I found myself wanting to normalise the act of wearing a saree on an ordinary day, to put it in the same league as a bright floral dress or a pair of jeans.

This combined with a lifetime of admiring my mother every time she emerged from her boudoir in a saree, and having two grandmothers with diverse aesthetics—fluttering chiffons and ornate, heirloom jewellery on one side, and starched kota sarees with pearls on the other—helped nudge me into the saree-wearing world armed with a mishmash aesthetic that, I believe, is clearly my own.

Around the same time as I was beginning to consider the possibility of wearing a saree on an ordinary day, I was just about finding my personal sense of style. Increasingly, I was gravitating towards handlooms, linens, and cottons, with skirts and dresses tailored out of traditional textiles and weaves. A trial of one of my mother’s Bhutanese skirts brought about this shift—I had nothing to wear one time, and she happily lent a skirt to me, mainly because it was a far cry from the shorter lengths I would sport at the time. Reminiscent of lungis, straight cut and ankle length, my mother’s “skirts” could be considered the transitional outfit that helped ease me into wearing a saree.

It took me several attempts of putting on a saree only to discard it seconds after, till I mustered up the courage to ignore the nagging feeling of doubt and reach work. As expected, the initial reaction in a legging and denim-wearing world was, “Puja at home?” But when I told them no, I wore this of my own accord, to mix things up, the response was heart-warming. I was bombarded with compliments all day, with people going as far as saying I should wear sarees every day! By the end, I was encouraged, and my confidence was at an all-time high. “I can do this”, I thought to myself.

I started my saree-wearing journey with a single white cotton. Within a few months, I had added a black version to the mix. A year later, my school friend decided to gift me a black and white cotton saree. Now, I knew, I was a saree wearer! Soon, I was rummaging through my mother’s closet, picking up hand-painted and hand-embroidered versions that had been handed down to her by her mother. I realised, I had a “type”. Dull, “ugly”, sarees, that no one my age would be caught dead in!

What helped in normalising the saree, was making the drape as comfortable as possible. Think shorter lengths, pinned pleats and compact pallus that could be swung around, teamed with loose blouses or tank tops for a relaxed, easy vibe. Also, staying as close to my everyday slightly-undone aesthetic—messy hair and everything—helped me feel like me, by emphasising that I had not been airlifted from a puja and dropped off at work. With time, I got bolder, and added sneakers and bright socks to the mix (such fun!).

People still tell me “Only you can pull it off”, to which I tell them, “So can you”, not out of politeness, but because I strongly believe everyone can take a saree and make it their own. For me, simple cottons work well, because I tend to add interest with sneakers and a random hairdo. For you, bright printed chiffons with Grecian sandals and poker straight hair, may work wonders. Or a starched kota with a crisp and sheer organza blouse and leather broguesOr a plain georgette saree with a matching georgette blouse and simple thong sandals. But you have to try it to believe it.

Once you find your very own kind of everyday-friendly drape, you’ll find yourself looking grudgingly at denims and leggings, dresses will no longer occupy prime real estate in your wardrobe, and a whole new world will open up in the form of frilly petticoats, crop tops, statement blouses that double up as underpinnings for a solid saree, and jewellery! You’ll begin to see every new trend in the context of a saree. Soon, questions like this will fill your mind: Can I team a corset belt with a crepe saree? Can I wear an off-shoulder, peasant top with a simple mul saree? Can I add ruffles to my blouse? And, just like that, you will have one more option to choose from, every morning. And who amongst us, apart from the Steve Jobs-inspired, does not want yet another outfit choice?


 

 

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5 types of ‘bloggers’ you’ll meet on Instagram

When you’re a wannabe blogger like me and are really-really interested in fashion (and stylish women), you end up following a lot of people online. You get their id’s from Vogue or you suddenly read about them somewhere, or your friend tells you that you have-to-have-to follow this one, and soon even Instagram is in on the plot (and guesses your secret ambition to harness a million followers) and begins to show you “recommendations”; and before you know it you’re following a 1000 people with very few people returning the favour – yes, let me be very frank about expressing my honest hurt. *sniff*

And after all that following and commenting (‘you-must-comment-for-them-to-comment-back’ – which NEVER works with me), you’re still stuck with 570 followers (Oh, shit, now its 566 – why are people unfollowing me?), you’re like @#$%, what am I doing wrong?

Anyway, long story short – I don’t think I have it in me yet to make it as an Instagram “visual” blogger – either I am really ugly or I lack skills, and so I have come back to wordpress, to well, try and analyse what are the “types” of bloggers ruling the online space.

But, before I start…

Disclaimer: This article does not intend to classify or discredit the uniqueness of each individual online by amassing them into “types”. It is merely an attempt to decode what is it that really works online.

  1. Head-to-toe perfectionists

They are the bloggers who look like they actually spent time to craft and curate every look for every photo they upload – I am sure every blogger does this – but this category actually adheres to the theme and pulls it off brilliantly. Case in point – That Boho Girl. Every look is perfect – boho – her makeup is never out of place – hair is always styled to perfection – her pictures makes me (and my blog) want to hide under a rock – yes, that level of perfection.

2. Wander-lusters

They are the bikini-clad, suntanned, beautifully-bleached haired people that you find sprawled under a coconut tree or sipping a martini on a hammock or water-babying it up at the Bahamas. In other words, they are the bloggers, who make the rest of us feel like we are leading really sucky lives. Their pictures make us want to throw a resignation letter at our bosses and take the first flight out to the exotic Fijis and Balis of the world – even when deep down we know that we neither have the money, the guts or the bodies to pull it off.

*Sigh*

3. Hot People

Well, this is a category of people who are just hot. They aren’t (usually) modelling clothes or selling looks or even promoting products – they are just really gorgeous and lead really gorgeous lives and post really gorgeous pictures of their really gorgeous lives. And since they amass an envious number of followers, thanks to their booming Instagram personality, soon they are modelling clothes and selling looks and promoting products. I think, they’re called “influencers”.

4. Hash-taggers

Well, this is a category of people who have managed to win followers thanks to using the right hashtags and following the right people, and tagging the right handles. Their content is average, their pictures are dull and they generally have no real theme to their blog. They are the ones who are just really smart. And really dedicated. And I tried to fit my blog into this bucket. But seems even this didn’t work out for me

5. Controversials

They are people who have an insane Instagram following due to cutthroat content that’s provocative and sometimes controversial. From a new generation of feminist artists like Nimish Bhanot to free-the-nipple activists, this is an interesting space to be in, if your work genuinely raises some good points. So, yes, some scope here.

Well, yeah, so that is it for now.

Some of you may argue that this is a simplistic view of the blogger landscape and I do agree – but who am I to delve in to the depth, anyway.

After all, I am just another wannabe blogger.