Indian Sarees: Contemporary & Traditional Versions

Indian Sarees: Contemporary & Traditional Versions

India is a country with a rich cultural heritage and varied history, with every part of the country having its own unique traditions and customs in food, festivals, and fashion. However, one garment which is found anywhere you go is the saree dress. This is a long piece of fabric that is wrapped around the woman’s body, over a blouse and petticoat.

This simple garment has a different variation in every part of the country, with everything from the fabric and designs to the draping styles and blouses differing from one state to the next. Today sarees are worn across the world and a lot of international celebrities have embraced the elegance and ethnic sophistication of sarees from India.

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One of the greatest attractions of the saree for fashionable women is the sheer variety available in the market. In addition to the tremendous regional options, one can also find a number of designer innovations like the lehenga saree or half and half saree which adapt the garment to the tastes of modern women. Thus there are a lot of saree designs to choose from; it is no longer a garment only for older women or those with traditional tastes.

Traditional drapes

The most beautiful sarees can often be found in the rural areas of India, where artisans have been creating gorgeous garments for royals for centuries. Earlier, these types of regional sarees were hand woven and took months or even years to produce. While such exotic hand woven and hand embroidered sarees are still available at a higher cost for extremely special occasions, the majority of options in a normal saree collection today will be machine made using artificial looms.

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In fact artisans have adapted newer technologies into their ancient techniques, thus reducing the cost and widening the appeal of their products. From thick and lustrous Kanjivaram silk sarees to the fine-looking Chanderi silk sarees, from heavily embroidered Chikan work sarees to Batik printed sarees, a variety of beautiful sarees can now be purchased by women across India and the world.  In some fabrics, the saree designs are woven into the material itself. Banarasi sarees, for instance, are famed for their rich gold thread designs which are woven into the silk fabrics.

Contemporary versions

Indian saree designs are extremely varied because here, there is a demand for sarees of all types for different occasions. For instance, many women wear sarees on a day to day basis, for office or when running errands, while for some women sarees are special occasion garments that have to be glamorous and attractive.

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In a designer sarees’ collection the most exclusive and attractive sarees with trendy colors, glittering designs and intricate patterns will be found. These are often embroidered and embellished using ethnic techniques like zari, Resham cut dana, gota patti, aari, booti etc. On the other hand, plain or printed sarees for day to day wear are also highly in demand.

Tips to keep your look on point

The key to pulling off the saree style is proper draping and pleating, so when wearing a saree make sure that you select a drape that suits your body type and that feels comfortable. For a party or celebration, the classic off-the-shoulder free flowing drape is a great choice but for office or any formal occasion, it is best to pin up the saree neatly.

The regional draping variations like the back to front Bengali drape or the double pleated Gujarati drape are expected at certain festivals and ceremonies. But many women are experimenting with such traditional drapes even in a non-cultural context in order to stand out from the crowd.

Another way to look stand-out in a saree is to make sure the styling is perfect. The Indian saree style is all about emphasizing the femininity and beauty of a woman, and this can be done in a simple or glamorous way, depending on the tastes of the wearer. For instance, a classic saree look would include a matching sari blouse, traditional gold jewelry and bangles.

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For every day wear, women might wear a printed cotton saree, while for work they might go with a stiffer material crepe or Dupioni silk fabric in muted colors and finish the look with simple but classy pearl jewelry. The best part about the saree is that even a ‘simple’ look instantly looks elegant because of the graceful drape and fall of the garment.

The latest designer sarees are often accessorized in much more daring ways. The blouse can be a halter neck, sleeve-less or deep neck, and in colors that are dramatically clashing with the saree. The latest trend as seen on red carpets is to make the blouse the center piece of the outfit by pairing up a thick and richly patterned brocade blouse with high-collar neck and full sleeves with a relatively plain saree made of a thin material like chiffon or georgette.