Trousseau buying comes with a price. Besides the money tag that marks its purchase, there is the tag of coordinating one's buys. Apart from the compulsory wardrobe of bridal finery, the bride's wardrobe now requires meaningful and smart wearables that will make a style statement much after the glam show of the wedding brouhaha has settled into a routine existence of happy matrimony. It's then that one realises that despite the oodles of finery lying strewn all over the bed and carpet, precious little remains to carry off those social commitments that now take a grip of one's life. Instead of the erstwhile collegian or trainee in the company, who could sport casuals with aplomb, the new bride is expected to be the prim and proper nayee bahu at family occasions and the wife of the young executive in the corporate official setup.
At these formal dos it still makes sense to arrive for the evening bash draped in a correct saree ensemble befitting the occasion. Influenced a great deal by the influx of western wear, the humble saree is thus undergoing a complete overhaul and emerging in its newest avatar as a designer brand, created with as much detail and planning as western wear for formal occasions. Also, the vast array of choices that the saree offers the wearer is a tempting alternative that keeps women interested in acquiring a wardrobe of sarees to be worn at the right time and in the right way. Taking their cue from this customer demand of right wear, even traditional saree weavers take pains to keep abreast with the times and often approach design centres for fresh inputs into their art. Also, the growing crop of exclusive Indian designers who have specialised in saree ensembles, have brought back a rejuvenating slant to the ageless garment and kept Indian women feeling proud to be seen and noticed in the saree.
And there lies the snag, for while western wear is a tale of the cut and the fit, the saree is a story of several choices of the same 'cut and fit'. The saree wardrobe is expansive and few items get rejected because it has been struck off the fashion designer's list. It is the coordinating paraphernalia that makes the saree into a star. It needs a battery of accessories that must be just right, beginning with teamed jewellery, the perfectly fitting blouse and the petticoat that feels snug and comfortable beneath. Even a slight change of colour, or the wrong texture, such as wearing a silk saree with a cotton blouse or a petticoat with a higher hemline, is armour enough to leave a lifelong scar of ugly memories.
To make sure that one is not caught into this snag of the wrong accessory, many a seasoned saree wearer, right from her post bridal days, begins the smart survival trick of buying a wardrobe within a dose colour range. By choosing a primary colour like red, black, green or blue, or a neutral like beige or grey, they begin to make all future purchases around this colour scheme. This gives the buyer the freedom to collect jewellery that will team up with the colour choice one has made and even shoes, bags, and sometimes blouses too, fit into this colour slot with ease. Of course one need not adopt a colour for the rest of one's life and one can make a change to a new range after one has substantially padded the present range with the right amount of expensive additives like jewellery, footwear and bags.
As for jewellery, time it is to choose the daily wear from the formal occasion wear by giving one's trousseau gems a scrutiny. Generally lighter items like studs, loops, and lightweight smaller earrings are fine for the daily grind, while the matching sets of danglers and necklaces to match can be slotted for more dressy occasions. Matching one's daily wear to the trends and colours in the market place gives wearers the chance to savour fashionable trinkets and classy jewellery items. Even the less ornate machine finished look of the simpler design gives the wearer an element of elegance teamed with a crisp cotton ensemble for summer or a heavy drape, sans a zari silk saree that sends out the right vibes in the office board room. Loud colours, busy prints or sarees worn with flowing pallus or uneven hemlines can spell disaster, despite the choice of the right fabric for the day.
In the evening, the choices are more studied preferences. It is best to scrutinise the invitation to the evening very closely before reaching out for the choices in the saree cupboard. A formal dinner with the boss, though a special time, does not call for someone to rush to the bottom of the suitcase and pull out the zari encrusted fuschia pink heavy saree to honour the day. In the same way, an invite to a formal western music concert or a dinner and play affair calls for sombre choices in the saree line. Arriving in dazzling reds and ram pinks or violets and greens is likely to raise eyebrows among the well-heeled connoisseurs in the gathering. There it is that black ensembles reign supreme, but one can always accent the sober regularity with a spread of glittering diamonds to offset the mood of the evening.
On the other hand, an evening reception for official or national occasions like republic day or the luncheon with a visiting dignitary's wife and entourage, lends itself to flowery options in the saree line. There one can sport chiffons and crepes in vibrant hues and make one's attire reflect the gaiety of the afternoon among the company. The light hearted small conversation making the rounds on such occasions will naturally include a few special compliments from the company, as their eyes come to rest upon the style statement you have made with your saree choice.
Besides colour and occasion, the saree needs to be worn with care. A slovenly style of carrying off the saree leads to discomfort for the wearer and creates a poor impression about the personality of the wearer. No longer do the earlier excuses of wearing sarees 'for the first time' stand ground for m'lady anymore. She is now expected to drape the garment like a veteran and walk and run with it, like a second skin on her person. All this is not easy to attain in a day. Thus it is a wise decision to wear the saree at least as a weekly routine, along with other forms of attire, just to keep in regular habit of wearing and feeling comfortable in a saree. To make sure that the saree drapes to the toes and shows a natty heel when one takes a step forward and does not expose the ankles when walking, one must use a full length mirror to examine the saree hem to make sure that it falls evenly at the bottom. Pleats too, must fall with knife edge sharpness along the points where the saree folds have been ironed or else, they must have a clean rounded edge that avoids the sharpness of the fold.
Having chosen the right saree and having worn it the right way, there is no reason why one should not make the right entryway into a room. Then approving eyes will offer silent compliments and unuttered admiration not only for the wearer herself but to the heritage of the saree that has been into thousands of years in the making, and that has stood the test of time in the hands of lakhs of wearers down the ages.