Choosing the Right Silk Saree
The love of silk sarees one can see across ramps, red carpets, movies and television shows is part of the ethnic revival trend but ultimately goes much beyond it. It represents a renewal of interest in the treasure trove of ancient Indian techniques and regional handicrafts industries, not just for ‘traditional’ occasions but as a part of the general wardrobe of modern women. Silk-spun saris have specifically become a kind of ‘symbol’ of this interest, perhaps because of their unforgettable beauty and universally flattering style. This revival of traditional techniques and methods has bought to the fore-front many regional varieties and made these ethnic outfits a fixture not just at special Indian events but also at offices, business conferences, and semi-formal gatherings and even in daily wear. Different varieties are suited for different occasions as each type has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that should be carefully considered.
For casual occasions, day to day wear and office wear, the best varieties would be cotton-silk and Dupion. These have a more slight and airy appearance and are more comfortable as well because of their light weight and soft texture. Another good choice would be raw silk sarees which are made by retaining the ‘gum’ of raw material in the final fabric. This creates a somewhat coarse texture and dull appearance with less of the traditional luster. Many women love this distinctive appearance as it creates a certain earthy and ethnic vibe; at the same time, this stylish effect can be achieved at low prices since this is a pretty low-cost fabric.
At the other end of the scale we have the lavish, resplendent Kancheepuram silk sarees exclusively spun in the village of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. These are quite heavy, with gold threads woven into the fabric, as well as beautiful gold borders and zari designs. Kanchi silk sarees have a famous reputation because of how often Bollywood actresses wear them on the red carpet but the truth is their beauty and attraction is such that they really don’t need the Bollywood factor to glamorize them. They have been traditional wedding wear amongst the upper classes in South India for many decades and now, they are popular across India for various wedding ceremonies as well as festivals and other high-end celebrations. Other elite and magnificent pure silk sarees include the Banarasi, Muga and Paithani varieties.
Between these two extremes are tremendous varieties of silk sarees which can be worn for various ‘semi-formal’ occasions. For instance, Bandhini saris are colorful and attractive but not ornately embellished, which makes them perfect for festival occasions where a fun ethnic look is required. Dupion sarees have a crisp, elegant and sophisticated look which is the perfect choice for business conferences; with the addition of subtle accessories, one can get a formal look while loud accessories will make it party ready.
For novices, shopping in person at an ethnic store might be preferable so they can understand the actual look and feel of each fabric. On the other hand, shopping online has nowadays become a piece of cake as online stores go out of their way to provide the customers with all the information they need.