An ode to my saree collection
I recently realised that it’s been about 100 years since I’ve worn a saree. You see, having a small person to look after affords me little opportunity to get glammed up.
Plus there’s been something of an Asian wedding drought amongst my nearest and dearest (come on people!).
And how I miss wearing a saree. Yes, they’re impractical, sometimes uncomfortable and you need a degree in ergonomics to put them on. But honestly, if you’re going to suffer for fashion, it might as well be for a saree.
Nothing is more glamorous, more elegant, and more ladylike. The very fact that a saree is so delicate and precariously adorned makes you walk like a gazelle. Forget not running in heels. When you’re draped in a sparkly saree, only dainty steps will do.
Because of their general impracticality, my sarees tend to only come out for weddings. But when they do, it’s like wearing couture.
An ode to my saree collection
So as I was sorting my wardrobe the other day, I came across my gorgeous saree collection which is just waiting for another moment to shine.
At a rough guess, I currently own about 40 sarees, and that’s not counting the once-loves ones that have been given to charity.
As it might be a little while before I get to wear them, I thought a consolation might be to do a little saree edit on here.
Also, if you’re thinking of buying a saree, I share my top buying tips below.
So here’s a small curation of my beloved saree collection:
Blue and gold number – easy breezy
I never thought I was one to pull off blue. But then I tried this blue saree. I bought this from Alankar, which is an Asian boutique in Manchester (you’ll see lots of my sarees are from there).
Alankar is pretty pricey but you can bargain hard, as I did (more tips on getting your saree for the right price below).
As far as sarees go, this is a much lighter, simple saree with delicate gold wiring work. It’s so easy to wear as there’s no heavy beading or stone work dragging it down.
In fact, it’s so comfortable that I’ve worn it to about three weddings and counting.
This one time I did my hair all nice and matched my eye makeup to the blue of the saree. I did a YouTube tutorial on the makeup (here).
This is one of my cheaper sarees (I think it cost about £80), so the cost per wear is bargain-ous.
Beige isn’t boring
Well not in this case anyway. This beige / coffee /golden coloured saree with copper accents is perhaps one of the most elegant pieces I own.
It achieves the rare feat of being lightweight, but with enough detailing to look expensive.
This gorgeous number is straight from Bangladesh and it’s had multiple wears.
Layered with bangles and fine gold jewellery, it’s glamorous enough for the most formal of occasions.
Purple and sequins
This deep purple saree with silver sequin work was one of my earliest purchases.
Truthfully, I don’t think I’d buy this style again. Though it’s pretty, the plastic stone work makes the outfit look slightly cheap, though I paid over the odds for the saree.
It cost £150, bit probably should have been under £100. Still, I got some decent wear out of it so it’s not all bad.
Fifty shades of pink (well, two actually)
Before ombre became a thing, I was rocking this beauty-licious saree which has a dreamy blend of light and hot pink.
Stone encrusted with gold wiring, this is one of the most gorgeous sarees I own. The beauty is in its colouring – it’s one of the rarest pinks I’ve seen.
Again from Alankar, this saree is on the pricier side. I think they quoted something silly like £450, but I managed to negotiate a BOGOF and bought another saree along with this for the same price.
Salmon and stone work
This was the aforementioned BOGOF saree I got when i bought the ombré pink number. Sadly I don’t have a picture of me wearing it.
The reason is simple. It doesn’t suit me. Though it pains me to say it, this saree was a pricey mistake. Not because it’s not gorgeous.
It’s just that the heavily decorated stone work kind of drowns me. Note to self- sometimes less is more.
This ultra-lightweight saree is a dream to wear. As it’s a much simpler design, it’s not quite fancy enough for a close family wedding, but I wore it too a friend’s registry and it was just right.
Unlike most of my other sarees, this lilac lovely isn’t laden in crystals. So you don’t have to walk like a geisha.
All red (and green) everything
I absolutely adore the print on this saree. The tiny round mirror work dotted all over the saree gives it a classic Indian look. While the detailed embossed mismatched blouse gives the look a modern twist.
This saree looks best worn loose rather than pinned. However, the heavily embroidered material has made me look a bit wider in photos.
I can’t remember where I bought this saree from, but I suspect it was just over £100. I’ve worn it a couple of times so the cost per wear is reasonable.
In the photo above I even wore fake eyelashes. Those were the days, when I had time for such frivolousness.
My wedding lehnga
Ok, this isn’t a saree, but I couldn’t do an Asian outfit roundup without acknowledging this big daddy of bling.
My wedding Lehnga weighed more than me, consisted of thousands of crystal stones (it’s the Balmain of Bangladeshi outfits) and wasn’t an easy wear. But if I ever had a regal moment… This. Was. It.
Butter-yellow saree of dreams
It would be fitting to end my saree ode with my bridal lehnga,. After all, I felt like a queen.
But I actually have one outfit that made me feel like a fairytale princess. And this was my mehndi saree.
On paper it doesn’t seem to work. Net material (which I hate). And a deep buttery yellow which is traditionally the reserve if fair-skinned girls. But it worked.
The ombré effect yellow was golden buttery, the delicate pearl work and red panels added some texture and the banarasi print blouse was just perfect.
Add that with my crystal headpiece, a Bollywood-worthy plait and much lighter makeup than my heavily made up wedding look, my yellow saree worked.
And as for brown girls not wearing yellow, you can ditch that rule. Golden skin rocks golden tones.
I only got to wear this saree once, so I’m really hoping someone gets married soon so I can wear it to their mehndi.
The saree I’ll wear next…
So this beauty ticks all the impractical boxes. Heavy and dragging, the stone work weighs down the slightly delicate material. But my golly, with that red and gold blouse, it is WORTH IT. I’ve only worn it once. It wasn’t cheap. So I’m determined to dust this baby off again.
Want to create your own saree collection? Here are my top saree buying tips:
- Don’t accept the first price. It’s usually extortionate. Unless the store says their dates are fixed price, they expect you to haggle.
- Be cheeky. When it comes to haggling, don’t be afraid to push your luck. I’ve bought sarees for half their original price.
- Always, always try before you buy. I know it sounds obvious, but some saree shops have crappy fitting rooms, or you might be too rushed to try. But I’ve found out the hard way, what looks good draped on the mannequin doesn’t always look so good In real life. Also, many saree stores don’t offer refunds, so you don’t want to make an expensive mistake.
- More isn’t always more. It took me years to get this. Growing up I saw women dressed to the nines at weddings, and the general mantra, was ‘the more bling the better’. Sadly, this doesn’t always work out. Being slight build, I’ve often found the heavier sarees often drown me, so I’m much better suited to lighter materials with less work. So don’t be bedazzled by the bling. See if you can pull it off first.
- Look at the detail. Like the faux-pas I’ve mentioned above, it’s the handiwork you pay for when buying the saree. As a general rule, glass stonework / crystals are more expensive. Plastic jewels look cheaper and are cheaper. So if you can, look for the sparkly stones as those sarees are quality.
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About the Author
I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.