The six yards are my cape! Anyday!
As a child, if you have seen your mother step out every single day for her workplace in the most graceful sarees, it is very natural to grow up absorbing a warm affinity towards the six yards. No wonder when I started working, saree it was every day to college. Years later too, with a small child and despite a war-like situation every morning, I remember wrapping myself in crisp cottons in summers and lush silks in winters in gross 5 mins and almost running to make it on time to be there for my school assembly every morning. Delhi allows you to indulge in the luxury of having a different wardrobe every season and I made the most of the six years that we stayed there.
My long sabbatical from work was also a sabbatical of sorts from sarees. I’m back with a bang to draping them again in my second innings as a writer and Spoken Word Performer for most of my events now. Most of my collection of exotic silk and crepe sarees are hand-me-downs from my Mom and Mom-in-law. It feels like a fortune that I have inherited from them. Over the years, I have shopped myself mostly for cotton and linen sarees and love teaming them up with quirky blouses from ‘Muchukalis’. Their high necks, straight cuts and a comfort fit is just the way I want my blouse to be.
Fab India suits and dupattas (silks and cotton both) are my other go-to attire. My wardrobe has dupattas as old as 16 years brought from Fabindia stores in Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Kolkatta- places that we kept moving to over the last 20 years of our married life. The one in the picture is an absolute favourite Lucknowi suit with a pink floral cotton duppatta. (Fab India)
Lest I forget, once in a while when the mood is western, my inches oblige and I’m ready to make the effort of pulling a dress down my pleasantly plump frame, it’s always a Marks & Spencer. Cuts that camouflage my love handles and all that is buxom are the best cuts- anyday 😉
(Jasmine Khurana was an economics professor and has now found her calling as a writer and a spoken word artist.)
“Initially, as I aged, I felt a lot of insecurity about the signs of age, and not being a youthful woman anymore. This matters to me in several ways, professionally as well as personally. As a travel blogger, there’s a big emphasis on the attractive young women on Instagram who combine travel with modelling. However, I’ve decided at 59 to embrace my age, find a style that suits me, and feel confident no matter what. Who says that “older” women can’t be attractive? We need to rewrite the script!
I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, usually go for the mid-range stores like Fabindia and Cottons Jaipur and Anokhi. I bought the Banarasi sari at a shop in Varanasi and talked sales person down from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000 rupees. I was travelling (as a journalist) aboard the Maharajas’ Express train, so I knew the store was touristy and over-charging. Still, consider this a great bargaining success.”
Khajuraho: White cotton kurta and cream cotton trousers from Fabindia
Lucknow: Teal and green silk-cotton blend kurta and chiffon palazzos from Cottons Jaipur, Special Collection
Wedding: Black and silver silk Banarasi sari
Chittoor: Gold silk kurta from Fabindia with cotton turquoise skirt from the market
(Mariellen Ward is a digital storyteller who publishes the award-winning travel site Breathedreamgo.com, based on her extensive travels in India. She has a BA in Journalism, has been published in leading media outlets around the world, and lives up in the clouds in Rishikesh, India.)
“This is designed by Jesal Vora. I love her collection because she makes me look thin and stylish. I don’t have to worry about tight fitting, because it’s loose and cozy, and I can dress up in seconds. Shoes gifted by my daughter from Sydney.”
“For a person who is not really interested in fashion or trends, the saree, evergreen and eternal, can become the default garment, especially as formal wear. If the said person is lazy and hates going to her tailor, mismatched blouses are a life saver! I also rarely buy sarees for myself: this beauty here is a gift from my daughter-in-law. I’m not sure of the fabric, but it is very soft and cool, and I was happy wearing it with an ancient Ikat blouse and dangling silver earrings.”
“Handloom sarees are my great love: silks, cottons, even polycots, all have a special appeal. Weaves of different kinds fascinate me, and we have a huge range of weaves across the country. Traditional prints and printing techniques are fabulous too. I end up being given many wonderful sarees. The few that I buy for myself are often impulse purchases, bought when I’m buying a gift for someone! Silver jewellery, beads, pieces with exquisite craftsmanship all speak to me. I truly cherish my antique choker, made from my great-great-grandmother’s bajubund.”
“My mother had a pair of ‘ponchiyaan’, kundan pieces strung on thick golden thread, worn as bracelets. My sister and I got one each, which we converted into necklaces by stringing them on pearls. Most of the blue and green meenakaari has worn off. I don’t really know how old these were. My parents got married in 1943, but I’m not sure if these were made then or earlier. I also love all my ‘junk’ jewellery!!! Come winter though, I am usually found in jeans and pullovers! Comfort is usually my highest priority! ”
“I work in the tech industry (20 years and counting) , which in the name of “cool” has shed all sense of dress etiquette. So to keep my spirits perked up I love bringing a riot of colors to my wardrobe, and in my mind. It’s my way of dealing with the corporate madness within which I am deeply entwined.”
“My saree is a special gift from my niece who picked the hues of purple, orange and pink. It’s a very light Kanchi silk and I decided to pair it with a bright orange halter blouse and long earrings.”
“My summer dress is bring is a lovely lemon color, with patterns that reminded me of chikan craft, just gives a very refreshing vibe. While you can pair it with platforms or pumps, I have a simple white walking sandals on (we were touring Boston while this picture was taken).”
We love both Nandini’s looks, and the absolute confidence with which she carries both off. If you want to share your favourite looks do mail me at email@example.com, with two full length pictures showing your outfit to the maximum advantage and a brief para on each.
(Photograph: Nikita Deshpande)
Oversized tinted aviators, hair that decided to part itself down the middle like it was suddenly channelising its inner Moses, a Ritu Kumar floral cotton kurti in mint green (a gift from my sis in law), Marks and Spencer jeggings, and my ubiquitous Kolhapuri chappals in cream and gold bought from Mahabaleshwar which I’ve been using forever and more. The pop of pink in the border I tried to echo with a pop of a similar shade in the lipstick, Lakme 9 to 5, Pink Ambition, which is looking strangely deeper here. Nice?
How did I start collecting antique silver jewellery?
Back in 80s and 90s, I used to be a kathak performer, very often on stage. Big and bold jewellery was a key accessory to the Kathak costumes. Because the glass bangles would break and I would get hurt during performances, my mother bought me silver jewellery which would not get stolen during costume changes and would also not break. The jewellery in those days was not finished in antique look but was the shiny silver glaring look ideal for the stage. Then came circa post MBA of the sales stint which took me travelling to villages in Orissa and also Tier 2 cities in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Once again the silver jewellery came to the rescue of the young Marwari bride who cannot be not wearing jewellery. This time it was worn with work clothes and not costumes and finished in antique style (polish). The silver jewellery from Rajasthan was a rage in Mumbai and the pieces were unique. Thus started a life-long habit of acquiring pieces which are unique. The collection is now my pride as it also reflects timeless taste and my sense of design. The best compliment I have received is from a young friend who requested that I include her in my will to inherit at least one of my pieces!
(Deepali Naair is Director, Marketing, India and South Asia, IBM)
“I can’t really call myself a fashionista but have always loved to look fashionable in every attire without being too obsessed about the idea. I have always been known as a pant/jeans/t shirt/top kind of woman since my teenage for both casual and work look mainly because I loved the comfort wear both at home and work. Even though I always admired women in sarees for me personally it was nothing less than a nightmare and then getting married to an Army officer and wearing sarees for every other formal parties became my biggest worry I spent hours perfecting my drape and eventually lost interest in attending such parties.
With time things changed as I crossed mid forties having more time to myself with kids grown up and husband busy in his own world. I started enjoying the experience of draping the six yards to my pleasure and in the bargain collected sarees from different states, weave, material and work from all over the country wherever my husband got posted from Valleys to deserts to mountains. Having touched my golden era, the 50’s, recently I realised that I am absolutely crazy about draping a saree for any occasion matching them with beads, pearls, semi-precious and precious jewellery along with silver, gold and diamond. I do wear my long gowns and anarkalis for certain stage performances or semi formal occasions too but sarees are my all time favourite which I feel surely adds the feminine charm and grace at my age.”
(Madhumita Sinha is an HR professional and a corporate trainer by profession , a published author of a book of poems ‘Heartbeats ‘ 72 random beats , a performing poet by passion and contributes regularly to international and national literary journals. She is part of four anthologies published by different publishers so far. She is also an avid Toastmaster.)
Rajeshwari wears a creamish ivory cotton silk saree from Pallam Silks with a blood red and blue border accessorized with Kemp temple jewellery, sporting the traditional South Indian look and finished with a mogra gajraa hair accessory for her bun.
A pastel yellow chiffon shirt with minimal accessories defining her Corporate look.
(Rajeshwari Ashish Jain runs an organisation that empowers women.)
For the most part of my adulthood I wore churidar/salwar kameez. I grew up in a modest middle class South Indian family where affordability and comfort decided our fashion.
But now I am most comfortable in denims or trousers on most of the days. I am not a “brand” person. It’s the confidence with which you carry off an outfit that really makes you look good.
And being a fitness enthusiast, gym wear is what you find the most in my wardrobe. I am yet not comfortable in working out with just a pair of tights and a sports bra, but I do hope to one day. It is super liberating.
(Janaki Nagaraj is a homemaker with two grown up kids, 3 cats and a husband. She has been a blogger, writes poetry and short stories. She is also a marathon runner and a powerlifter having recently won the silver medal in Maharashtra State powerlifting competition for the M1 (master’s 1) category.)