Why I wont be making how to wear a saree videos

I like to wear handcrafted sarees in ways that are fun and interesting for me but I am not sure that making saree draping videos is what I want to do …

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Photos: Vincent Boyer (Say hi on instagram @vincetravelbook)

In these photos I am wearing a light and breezy cotton Angara handloom saree from the East Godavari region in Andhra Pradesh. I draped it over a Sanganeri block print barely there, cropped slip and ensured that the pallu and the pleats are all out of my way as I needed to be nimble climbing cliffs and jumping around rocks.

The handwoven backpack from South America had all my essentials for the day and the beat up sneakers were comfy for the amount of walking we had to do. This drape has no name but it has two sets of pleats and a knot to join two ends of the pallu so there is nothing trailing behind me.

As per usual no petticoats or safety pins were harmed (read used) to drape the saree or keep it in place.

A lot of people contact me asking for videos on drapes that I wear my six or nine yard sarees in. There are also a lot of people who ask me what my draping charges are.

I’d just like to clarify, PleatsNPallu is a fun project for me, I am not someone who is looking to drape sarees on people. To be honest, half the times I don’t even know what the end result will be as I just pleat, knot and wrap based on my activity/ saree for the day.

There is enough information around on the hundreds of traditional Indian drapes and they are a good place to start experimenting.

I am not comfortable making videos and I above all I choose not to make videos. If you are a friend or someone I know, I will definitely  give you an idea of how to recreate some of my drapes. I didn’t start this blog or the accompanying instagram handle to become anyone’s go-to for different ways to wear a saree.

This space exists so I can share the fun that are sarees. The idea is not to teach people how to drape but to encourage anyone who is interested in wearing the unstitched cloth to enjoy the process.

The photos I post here are not the result of carefully chosen locations, meticulously applied make-up, professionally styled outfits or even a professional photographer. They are a result of us taking pictures running up and down mountains or cliffs by the coast or exploring a new country and most of the time I wear ethically made, hand crafted clothing, without  a lick of make-up on my face and my hair is windblown.

The goal isn’t to get people to do what I do but it is to start a conversation about being comfortable doing what comes naturally to us and wearing sarees the way we feel like.

I started posting photos because I didn’t see photos online of everyday women having fun in sarees. The top images were the ones shot for big brands or designers and that kind of styling doesn’t appeal to me.

I am hoping to accomplish the following by posting photos and talking about wearing handloom sarees:

  • Show that a young modern woman can have fun styling the unstitched cloth for her everyday adventures and challenge stereotypical notions about what women in sarees can and cannot do.
  • Be free to express myself and not be shackled by age old beliefs of how a saree should be worn.
  • Convey that it is wonderful to not following rules of how a woman should dress or behave.
  • Reject the notion that petticoats or saree blouses or safety-pins or even bras are essential to wear the six or nine yards.
  • Shun gender roles roles forced on me. I absolutely have no time for people who think that women look the best in sarees, all Indian women must know how to drape them and wear them regularly! Sarees are probably the oldest, continually worn unisex garment and I have no time for gender in general.
  • Actively encourage the idea that everyone can style the saree in ways that they like, not give or take style advice from strangers but be a part of the movement that rejects outdated ideas of morality associated with the garment.
  • Being liberated from religious connotations. Yes, I love wearing nine-yard sarees and I refuse to be a good Hindu about it, I like my sarees without a side of religious fanaticism.
  • Have a wardrobe that is mostly void of man-made fabrics like polyester, acrylic, nylon etc. I like my skin to breathe and my clothes to be bio-degradable and not clog up landfills.
  • To completely get rid of fast fashion from my life.
  • Not be limited by body type or physical characteristics. Rubbish rules like short girls should’t wear sarees with flats, dark girls shouldn’t wear bright colours etc have no place in my life!

I am happy to share what I do via photos, writing and maybe in person but I don’t like draping sarees on people I don’t know.

However, if there is a cute puppy or kitty looking to flounce about draped in an unstitched length of fabric, I would definitely play dress-up with them. Its just people I am wary of.

 

 

 

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Why mulmul block print sarees are great

I think mulmul sarees are a great place to start one’s six-yard journey

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IMG_2662Photos: Vincent Boyer (Say hi on instagram @vincetravelbook)

Mulmul is a fine cotton fabric, slightly heavier than the gossamer-thin muslin that India has been known for since ancient times.

I think the world of mulmul sarees, they are like that buttery soft, comfy tee-shirt you have had for years, hassle free and simple. I prefer my mulmuls to be hand block printed with the designs made using organic dyes and traditional techniques.

This blue mulmul DIY saree made from Jaipur hand block printed scarves and travelled with me to Europe this summer and is worn here with a Bandhani kediyu. These pictures were taken on a warm day when we spotted lovely violet flowers blooming in the middle of the forest in Picardie in France and wanted to get a bunch for home.

I think mulmul sarees are a great place to start one’s six-yard journey, especially if one is busy and can’t be bothered with heavy sarees that need a tonne of safety pins.

I have made a list of why I love these kinds of fabric and enjoy draping them as sarees regularly:

  1. They require hardly any maintenance, can be chucked in the washing machine, don’t need to be ironed if they are dried right and above all get better with wear.
  2. This light-weight fabric is a known summer staple but honestly, worn with the right things it is great for winter as well and is fabulous for travel.
  3. They are tremendously easy to drape, support various experiments and will make the messiest pleats look pretty.
  4. A lot of the indigenous block-print techniques use natural dyes that are better for one’s skin and general well-being.
  5. Depending on the kind of printing technique mulmul sarees come in various bright as well as sober hues of the colour spectrum, appealing to people with different colour sensibilities.
  6. You can dress them up or down, wear them to work or to a function, it all depends on how they have been accessorised. And I’ve worn them with both gold and silver jewellery.
  7. They are very easily available in most saree shops, government emporiums or independent boutiques.
  8. Depending on the amount of work these fabrics are priced to suit a range of budgets and can be bought by students for a pittance as well as connoisseurs of higher end designers.
  9. They come in a tremendous variety of patterns and prints from stripes, checks, geometric or floral to suit every design sensibility.
  10. You can get mulmul hand block prints from different states that look completely different from each other, for example: Kalamkari from Andhra, Ajrakh from Kutch, Vegetable prints from Dessa, Ahmedabad and Kutch, Saudagiri prints of Ahmedabad, all in Gujarat, Dabu, Bagru, Sanganeri block print from Rajasthan, Bagh from Madhya Pradesh etc.

I always have and I think I always will like clothing ethically made with handloom-ed, handcrafted natural fabrics in cuts that are breathable.

Having lived in India and elsewhere, I have a huge reverence for our traditional techniques of dyeing, weaving, stitching and embroidery that are still culturally relevant.

Artisan handicraft is still the second largest source of employment in India with an estimated 200 million workers at the core of the handicraft industry (Crafts Council of India, 2011).

I like clothing woven with stories, so when I am buying something that is handcrafted I am buying a slice of heritage handed down through generations.

And I find mulmul block prints even though the fabric may be power loom just ticks all the right boxes for me because of the efforts of the craftspeople who decorate the textile with their art.

Print on print done the handcrafted way

Just do you! Whatever takes your fancy. There is no right size, shape, pattern, colour or drape that looks better on you because some rule book says so.

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Photos: Vincent Boyer (Say hi on instagram @vincetravelbook)

I love the feel of a light, soft cotton mulmul saree especially when it is hand block printed with lovely colours and paired with another block print flowy top. Often I knot the pallu multiple times on very light sarees so it stays in place and is easier to manage.

Also a lot of times I’ve been given (unsolicited) advice on what to wear with what and because I am on the skinny side I’ve often been told wearing loose clothes make me look shapeless. So here’s my two cents on what to wear with sarees: Whatever the hell you want to wear.

Don’t have a matching blouse? Wear it with a tee-shirt. Too hot for a tee-shirt? Wear it with a swim-suit top. Don’t like plain blouses? Wear print on print. Don’t like bright colours? Wear all the greys, browns and any colour you like. Like bright colours but worry that you look too colourful? Just wear every colour you like, all together. Hate wearing underskirts? Wear the saree with your denim shorts. Hate wearing heels? Rock your saree with your keds or motorcycle boots. Hate wearing flats? Wear your sky high heels to duck out to the supermarket.

Just do you! Whatever takes your fancy. There is no right size, shape, pattern, colour or drape that looks better on you because some rule book says so. One more time someone tells me, “Beta its great to see that you like sarees, but (I am sure you can finish the sentence) … I will genuinely throw a heavy rock at their face.

People come in all shapes, sizes, colours, genders and sexual orientations, there is no rule-book that can capture the vastness of the various kinds of people and we shouldn’t limit our imaginations. Tell me what is your favourite way to break the saree wearing rules?

P.S. This saree is actually three dupattas stitched together to form a length of fabric long enough to drape with pleats around me. Like I said, no rules!