If the mere thought of wearing a handwoven linen saree and braving a crowded Mumbai local makes you shudder, then Pallavi Datta will ask you to reconsider. The stylist, known for her story-like ensembles that she puts together on her online diary, will host a workshop at The Saree Festival, beginning tomorrow. The four-day long festival, organised by Delhi’s Himanshu Verma, makes it to Mumbai for the first time since its inception in 2014.
Add a bit of androgyny in your saree and have a cuppa, says Datta. PICS/PALLAVISTYLEDIARIES.COM
We visited Datta’s home, where she had an array of handwoven sarees and blouses stacked up. “Right from dressing for an interview to meeting friends at a café, you can get into a saree. We are too bound by rules when in fact the saree is open to interpretation,” she says. With the use of some of her pieces, Datta shares some nifty hacks to make the hand-woven saree a 24/7 sartorial choice.
Top of the crop
Instead of having intimate discussions with your local darzi about your vital statistics, opt for the versatile crop top, suggests Datta. This may also put an end to discomfort while travelling, especially for those of us who get fidgety with a little peek-a-boo straps or some midriff baring. “Crop tops, fitted T-shirts and collared shirts are great substitutes to the traditional blouse. Choose non-silhouette options like summer shirts, or even a chambray jacket. And, if your pallu slips, just put it back in place!” says Datta.
The stylist also advises not to be afraid to show-off a bit, when you feel like it. “When I am out with girlfriends, I like wearing a deep backed blouse or a kadak-V blouse. The off-shoulder blouse is doing well internationally, and it’s a great option. No one gains weight on their shoulders.”
Avoid mixing traditional with traditional, recommends Datta, who usually pairs her saree with a chunky watch. “You don’t have to be so delicate with the saree. Opt for a bit of androgyny,” she says. Shirts, especially striped ones, are perfect slimming semi-formals (yes, we are talking with sarees swirled over them). “You can wear quirky cufflinks — aeroplanes, flowers or even dinosaurs,” Datta remarks. Instead of kitten-heels or stilettos, she asks you to consider sneakers, gladiators and even tie-ups.
Night and day
Datta shows us a smart blockprinted cotton saree, with swirls of yellow florals, which could be worn with a basic blouse in the day and a more detailed zari jacket for the night. A black linen handwoven saree, with a dull gold border, paired with layered necklaces and a cuff, can be the perfect retort to the LBD.
Bask in the spotlight
Yes, wearing a saree these days can draw undue attention, especially in offices and classrooms. But why feel like a wallflower when you can be a princess? It is not boringly homogenized, and you can opt for colours that work, she says, as she unfurls a handwoven saree, a chocolate-milky colour, with little roses appliquéd on it. It looks very English, like Victorian wallpaper. When it’s time to get trendy, handwoven sarees come in funky blockprints as well.
Be wrinkle-worry free
Iron your sarees, but let the wrinkles be, is Datta’s way of draping it. “Polyester is the reason we think a line here or there is not fine,” she says, as she draws an example of how kurtas are made by wrinkles, a method called giley kora punjabi. “I never fuss about crinkles; they are memories of how my day progressed,” she says. Visit The Saree Festival at Coomaraswamy Hall, CSMVS, from November 2 to 5.
Saree ka Gunijan Khana
Where: Artisans’, near Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda
When: Nov 2 – 3, 11 AM – 1 PM
Entry: Rs 1,500