Handloom sarees are the pride of the rich textile heritage of India. Mostly found in cotton and silk, a handloom saree is more than just a statement of chic, classic fashion. It is a matter of stature and status to own an authentic handloom saree. For the appreciative eye, there are a number of traditional as well as designer handloom sarees that have been inspired by the textile legacies from around the country.
While silk handloom sarees are immensely popular among women, they are more expensive and can only be worn for grand events like religious celebrations and weddings. Many women prefer cotton sarees for formal occasions such as conferences and work related meetings.
Although cotton is a light material it is also stiffer than other airy fabrics like chiffon and georgette, thereby making it the preferred traditional formal wear among women. When exploring and buying authentic cotton sarees, online shopping is often the preferred method of purchasing, especially among the younger demographic.
Bengal handloom sarees
One of the most sought after types are Bengal handloom sarees. The sheer variety in these sarees based on difference in textile and embroidery is amazing. The most popularly known Bengal saree is the Kantha, which is one of the most well-known embroidery stitches in the country, along with Jamdani, which is made of fine muslin.
There are also other varieties like Tant, Baluchari, Korial and the Banaroshi that are fit for occasions like weddings or as office wear. One of the other recognizable sarees in Kolkata and other urban centers of Bengal is the white Garad cotton saree with the prominent red border. Today, it is considered a mark of classiness and elegance amongst women across India.
The southern part of India is also well known for producing high quality sarees. Brought to the urban centers by migrant Malayalis, owning Kerala handloom sarees is a matter of pride among women. The Kerala Kasavu, a white or off-white cotton handloom saree with gold zari borders, is owned and loved by many north Indians as it is no longer just a regional, cultural symbol but a cult icon in itself.
The handloom heritage of the south has also influenced the styles of sarees in Sri Lanka. Among the varieties of South Indian handloom sarees, Sri Lanka mostly draws on Tamil Nadu, which produces some of the best silk sarees worn by women across all regions in India.
Other handloom wonders
Other regions of India also have a rich handloom heritage that appeals to a wide demographic. The textile heritage of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh in the Deccan and Assam in the North East, for instance, are producing very high quality stuff that are unanimous crowd pleasers.
Appealing to the aesthetic sense of women, these sarees have rich threadwork, zari work and a number of other traditional embroidery forms are woven into the fabric. Designs and motifs are usually traditional although artsy sarees that use unconventional motifs and patterns have also become popular among younger women in the last few years.
The main thing to keep in mind when styling a saree is to pay attention to the style of the saree itself. Traditional handloom sarees need chunky jewelry to set them off while designer sarees can swing either ways i.e. be contrasted with traditional jewelry to retain the ethnic quality or paired with modish pieces to look chic. Although, a common piece of jewelry that must always be paired with handloom sarees is a set or pair of bangles.
- Traditional handloom sarees – Most traditional sarees that are in cotton can be paired with a chunky beaded necklace with a statement piece at the center. The color of the beads as well as the statement piece should preferably be in a complementing color so that the look of the ensemble is complete. On the other hand, silk sarees of the handloom variety should be accessorized with heavy pieces in precious metals as the silk fabric is lustrous and demands to be complemented by grand accessories.
- Designer handloom sarees – To complement designer sarees one can wear intricately designer modern accessories that add texture and patterns to the overall look. With the designer variety one can also choose to sport modern motifs in the jewelry pieces in contemporary metals such as white gold or platinum. These types of light yet grand pieces create the perfect fusion of ethnic and contemporary while bringing a different kind of chicness to the table.
- Although makeup depends largely on the occasion the saree is worn for, one can always sport a bold bindi to complete the look. The motif needn’t be the traditional circle, but can also be modern with artsy designs.