India is a melting pot of many cultures and never is this more obvious than when we discuss ethnic clothes. For instance, the saree is popular everywhere but every region comes with its own traditional style of draping and distinct preference for certain fabrics and designs. Some of the most luxurious and beautiful saree varieties can be found in South India.
South sarees are relatively less ‘adorned’ with elaborate embellishments but no less luxurious. In fact some varieties are amongst the most lavish and expensive in India since they are pain-staking handcrafted using expert techniques and using high-end materials. The sophisticate grandeur of a south saree is what makes so many actresses look to this category when they want an ethnic red carpet look.
The design of a south Indian saree will vary depending on which state and region it is from. Many of the most famous and beloved sari varieties are from Tamil Nadu, the southern-most state of India. Tamil sarees are highly colorful and attractive to look at, with a lot of variety in terms of fabric, designs and style. A Tamil saree will also typically be longer, extending to the traditional 9 yards rather than the 6 yards length which is customary for saris today.
One of the most famous Tamil Nadu sarees is the Kanchivaram saree named after the region where it is made. This town has been the centre of production for this sari for many years; it is the main source of income and leading industry in that region. It is a thick, heavy silk saree spun using the finest quality threads of silk intermingled with gold dipped silver threads.
Three mulberry silk threads are mingled with one zari (i.e. gold) thread to create the heavy, lustrous effect which just cannot be matched. These sarees are known for their beauty and durability, since the intricate weaving and fine materials used ensure it lasts a long time. The designs used range from the famous temple borders and motifs like peacock eyes to the traditional patterns of flowers or leaves.
These are probably the most beloved south silk sarees and are consequently the staple Tamil wedding sarees. They are highly desired across India, and have even gained international recognition, but they hold a special place in the heart of Tamilians. They are the preferred Tamil bridal sarees, especially when they come in shades like yellow, red and green which represent fertility and prosperity.
The south silk saree with the most elevated reputation might be the Kanchipuram, but other varieties also exist, made in different regions of Tamil Nadu. These may use lighter silk fabrics as well as silk and cotton blends, though, like Kanchipuram sarees, they come in bright colors and with bold borders, typically of gold.
Such sarees are generally a part of any South Indian wedding collection as silk is the preferred fabric for special occasions like weddings. On the other hand, cotton is another favorite fabric in the hot and humid climate of South India. The durable and absorbent fabric is used to make a wide range of daily wear sarees as well as more semi-formal sarees with pretty designs of Indian motifs like peacocks and fruits.
For instance, the town of Madurai is a big saree production centre known for its block printed sarees made of a fine cotton material. They can be quite simple, in a single color, or with two colors and bold gold borders. The motifs used are small and subtle, such as paisley patterns or floral designs; they further add to the feminine appeal of these sarees.
Styling your kanchivarams
South Indians sarees are the favorite red carpet ethnic wear of many fashion divas and actresses. Obviously one would expect a south actress in saree styles from that region; the remarkable thing is the cosmopolitan appeal these regional favorites have developed.
One can see actresses like Rekha and Vidya Balan frequently flaunt these sarees. These actresses have mastered the art of wearing a saree and one can look to them for inspiration on how to accessorize for various occasions.
The favorite accessories for South Indian wedding sarees are gold jewelry pieces including necklaces, earrings and bangles. For South Indian bridal sarees, one should go for more jewelry pieces including mang tikkas and anklets. If going for a Tamil wedding saree, like a luxurious Kanchipuram, more colorful pieces like stone studded necklaces can be used for a beautiful effect.
These sarees are also great for parties; in fact, they can be used to create the perfect ethnically glamorous look when combined with a few simple additions like bangles or earrings. These sarees are rich enough to look resplendent with sophisticated but subtle accessory additions like a Thewa necklace or PolkI earrings.