Why and how to include Sarees in your workwear!

This is to all the lovely young ladies, going up the Corporate ladder, especially to those of you who prefer to wear western outfits at work. While you adore and emulate your seniors in all other respects, mention the word ‘saree’ and a list of reasons, rather excuses come up. Most common being a Saree makes one look older, it’s cumbersome to wear and manage and is reserved for festive occasions. These thoughts, deeply embedded in the subconscious mind restrains you from even attempting to drape this fabulous piece of clothing. A saree does not take over 2 minutes to drape. I’ve been an airline professional, right from 21 yrs of age and was wearing a saree each day, as uniform. I mastered the 10 minutes ‘get set go’ routine (hairstyle, makeup and all) for long duty hours at a stretch and in the most challenging circumstances. We carried out safety drills, operated aircraft doors and ill-maintained trolleys, and carried out rigorous duties, with ease and elan in a saree. All along, I’ve so happily lapped up compliments for my appearance in a Saree, that the question of looking older didn’t even occur to me! It’s only a mindset. Check if this stems from an anchor associated with a headmistress, teacher, matron or other strict mother figure. Let’s work on changing this mindset. A plethora of traditional Indian weaves are suited for a wide spectrum of occasions-from the very ornate wedding attire, ramp glamour wear, the casual simple girl next door to the authoritative, formal and official look.

Many Indian families do not permit their ladies to wear a trouser or skirt, leaving them with an option between a Saree or the Salwar Suit. This prompted Ms Suman Agarwal, of The Image Consulting Business Institute to officially initiate the Style scale for Indian attire. The style scale is a hierarchical, vertical continuum which prescribes the design elements of a garment for the messages the wearer wants to convey, his role and the occasion of the event.

Just as a coat or jacket converts trousers/skirts and office shirt to a suit, a coordinated jacket on a Saree is officially declared as an attire at the highest level of power. A garment has five elements of design- line, shape, colour, texture and pattern. There is a hierarchy in the power quotient of these design elements. Design elements, in various combinations, speak a language and convey specific messages. Let’s examine how you could effectively use the elements of design for a saree as work wear. It helps to be mindful of your body shape, colour, your personal style, your role in the organisation and the event to make the right choice.

Go for straight lines and angular shapes. Palav should be sharply, uniformly pleated and pinned up across the front to make as close an angle to the vertical, as possible. Palav pleats could be pinned together after they are draped on the shoulder too, so they don’t open up in a fan. Pleats should be pinned together, to wrap around securely around the body. Minimize show of midriff.

Lines and shapes on body, border and palav should be angular, eg: temple, ikat: Go for geometric shapes like squares, triangles, parallel vertical lines or converging lines. Avoid the very rounded ones like Bandhani, creeper pattern on borders and large-scale floral at work. The scale of the pattern should be small to medium.

Colour: Keep one neutral, muted colour as dominant and other colours (not more than 3 or 4 in all in any case) as subordinate. A higher contrast is at the top of the style scale. (Lawyers and advocates). Accent colours should just be for accent, in any case not more than 15 % of the entire look, including accessories. Avoid some high contrast combinations that appear loud and shouting and hurt the eye too. Remember each colour convey a message and they work as therapy too.

Texture: Natural fabrics like Linen, Cotton and silk score best for the sari. The appearance after draping should be firm and crisp, rather than soft, flowing and transparent. Keep the decorated, chiffons and georgettes for the dressy evenings.

Pattern: Lines, checks, small-scale patterns work best. Some classic Indian motifs like peacock and Paisley is officially declared as classic patterns and is used in details like scarves, jackets, shawls, blouses, especially in woven and in embroidery, even though they have curved lines.

The blouse design is as important as the saree. The design details for sleeves, necklines and collars follow a hierarchy too. At work, closed necks, Chinese collars or high neck (both front and back) are best suited. Sleeves shall be firm fitted, and long. No ruffles, puffs, or sleeveless. Wear long blouses.

Often, there is an event, a business casual event in the evenings to attend after work. It’s a great idea to invest in two Blouses, one for office wear, and another as a dress wear. Change of jewellery and accessories gets you all dressed up for the evening too. At Kasha saris (my own designer  handcrafted saree line), most of our Saris come with two distinctly different blouse fabrics, so you could dress up and down a level, as appropriate

Review your current work wear.  If you are the type to just pick up the garment on the top of the heap and get going to work, consider this: Most of your day is spent on your workwear. It’s the work that gives your bread, cake and champagne. Make investments in your work wear, care for your clothes and experience the energy exchange. You may consider renewing your wardrobe.

So go ahead and get that new look, project a new image this New Year. Work towards it from today. Give this elegant garment it’s due to space in your wardrobe!

For more about Kasha saris and personal consultation on  clothing  that will work best for you, write to me at kashasaris@gmail.com or connect on 919867375933
Kanchan Purohit
Image Consultant, Designer of  handcrafted Sarees.

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