Dressing the Part

26 Mar

It can be said that the epitome of traditional Indian fashion is the sari, which is an elegant piece of clothing worn by woman. A sari is a strip of unstitched cloth, which can range in length from four to nine metres, and is draped over the body in various styles, usually depending on the region from which the wearer originates. Most commonly, the sari is wrapped around the waist, with one end pleated and draped over the shoulder baring the midriff. It’s usually over a petticoat, and a blouse known as a choli.

Another type of garment that is commonly worn by women in India is the salwar kameez. In comparison to the sari, this is easier to style and wear. It consists of a long tunic top (kameez) that hits about the middle of the thigh and pajama-like pants (salwar) that are wide at the top and narrow at the ankle. This ensemble is completed with a long scarf that is draped over one or both of your shoulders from the front.

Both the sari and and the salwar kameez are made with different types of fabrics and in various colours. Some are ornate with embroidery, gems or other decorative items and you’ll also find simpler styles, depending on the occasion.

Photo by Trynes via flickr.com

 

The night market in Delhi

On my second night in India, I was whisked off to the market in Delhi so that I could try on some salwar kameez suits. I was accompanied by 2 of The BF’s cousins and his mom, who was going to buy me three outfits from the market for the wedding festivities. These suits were to supplement the two saris that were ready and waiting for me in Mumbai. It had already been a long and busy day of settling into our accommodations, meeting family over lunch, and experiencing Indian traffic during the day for the first terrifying time of my life. By the time we got to the market, we had just over an hour to find three suits that I liked, get them altered to fit and buy them. This pace at which we were operating was pretty much setting the tone for the rest of our time here in India: Fast and furious.

 

The market's tailor altering one of my suits.

 

You walk into one of these shops and they are almost all identical — your eyes immediately go to the wall of shelves which display folded suits of every colour imaginable. Once you tell the shopkeepers what you’re looking for, styles are pulled, unfolded and fanned out for you on the unadorned mattress upon which they are standing. As these stores had no change rooms, I was encouraged to try the suits on over my clothes. I was ushered from store to store, quickly trying on different styles and colors. Amazingly, we were able to settle on three suits between two shops that everyone agreed on.

This one is a black with peacock blue accents, with beautiful and fine silver detail throughout.

In all the chaos, we forgot to take a picture of me in this suit. Just as well, as this was not my favorite as it ended up not being flattering at all. It was a little more of a modern design with an empire waist and a bit of a train extending from the waist. This bad fit may be due to the fact that I was trying these on over my clothes, which didn’t provide accurate proportions for the man doing the on-the-spot alterations at the market. Too bad, because the colors were quite beautiful. The suit was olive green with metallic gold adornments, and the scarf was a vibrant fuschia.

This is the sari that I wore to the first ceremony. It was designed in the traditional Gujart style using the tie-dye technique. The detail on this was quite brilliant and fine. Tying a sari is quite a complex process, with the incredible lengths of fabric that need to be folded and tucked and draped, especially for a Canadian girl like me. My sari was tied for me at a beauty parlor.

Me being all Bollywood

Again, no full shot of me in this outfit worn at the first reception. This was our favorite suit — it was nicely fitted and had the most clean lines of the three. The colors were asparagus and crimson, with gold thread and dye.

Our favorite sari, which was given to me by the BF’s mother. It was fuschia and made of a delicate, floaty chiffon-like material, which allowed the sari the drape and hang really nicely. It was not overly ornate, which was perfect for me, with tiny bits of silvery-gold thread detailing throughout.

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9 Responses to “Dressing the Part”

  1. kat March 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    love the pics. Saris are so beautiful! your hair is so long! it’s nice though i imagine you’ll go shorter when the summer rolls around? 🙂

    btw, you should have hid behind a tree to be bollywood haha! 🙂

  2. reni March 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    steph, you look awesome in those. good job in dressing the part!

  3. courtney March 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    I love the last two. Going shopping sounds stressful. Seems like you lucked out with what you got because they all look gorgeous. I love the vibrant colors and materials. Did you bring them all back with you?

  4. Steph S C-O March 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Very nice!!!! They all look beautiful – even the ones I couldn’t fully see. Delhi night market sounds like an unforgettable experience. 

    ps I miss you!!!!!

  5. Leesh April 3, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    The black saris is beautiful! But you still look great in all the other pictures.

    Seeing all the fabrics makes me think of great colour combos for saris.

    Did you bring all these saris home with you?

  6. Steph April 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    thanks for all the compliments!
    And yes, I got to take each one of the suits and saris home, and they’re waiting for special occasions to be worn again here.

  7. Maureen April 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    wow! you look great! i luv all the outfits! my faves are the black one and the sari Sanj’s mom gave you!

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    […] Dressing the Part « A Simple Kind of Life: […]

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