The humble blouse that accompanied the saree had until recently been the most unimaginative piece of garment, silently playing its part in complementing the saree in a tried and tested fashion. Even women who mixed up the drape and the pleats of their designer sarees only went as far as playing around with the length of their blouse sleeve - an excuse in the name of experiment. The most one would think of the blouse would be during a wedding or a festive occasion, when it would be adorned with the customary trimmings, sequins and pearls to make it worth the occasion.
However, in the past few years, young designers who realise the need for comfort and a certain modern aesthetic in a blouse have given it a brand new makeover. Chic and contemporary, these pieces appeal to the younger generation since they help them exude a ‘cool’ vibe. The blouse as interpreted by these designers is no longer a made to measure piece of garment with structured folds and hooks in the front. Instead, it could be anything from a T-shirt to an asymmetric crop top or even a jacket that has the potential to totally change the vocabulary of the saree.
In case you thought that it is only the elite connoisseurs of the saree who would experiment with blouses like these to go with their designer sarees, let us tell you such blouses are even scoring it big time with youngsters who want to sport a ‘different’ look by wearing a saree with an eclectic blouse. They are gravitating big time towards blouses like these because then they don’t really need an expensive designer saree to make a statement. A quirky blouse paired with even a simple saree will make people sit up and take notice.
Most importantly, a modern blouse like T-shirt or a crop top is something they are used to and are comfortable in - making it all the more easier for them to drape the saree around it and carry the six yards of fabric all day long. This could, in fact be one of the main factors that is slowly leading to the acceptance of the saree as casual or workwear even among the fashion forward women. It is actually quite surprising that something as seemingly simple as a change in the kind of blouse can give the saree such a big boost in the country.
We have picked ideas that are easy to emulate and carry so that you can tweak them as per your personal style and incorporate them into your wardrobe. A lot of designers are introducing modern blouse styles that are infusing a new momentum to the saree revolution.
Sanjay Garg is known for his dramatically modern take on the traditional saree. Garg’s idea of a blouse is not making them revealing and sexy but for them to be well-tailored, so much that they can also be used as a separate, with a pair of trousers or a skirt. In keeping with this design principle, he has designed some trendy blouses in comfortable cuts and patterns. His blouses are never too tight and when they are made in lush fabrics like mashru, tissue, brocade or chintz, all you want to do is to flaunt them!
Look out for blouses featuring interesting elements like bell sleeves, quilted surfaces, peter pan collars and convenient zips to secure them. Like we said, if you are not feeling like a saree on a particular day but can’t help yourself from reaching for the blouse, you can wear it over your denims and finish the ensemble with a jacket for a boho-chic look. But with a blouse as alluring, you would definitely want to make a statement by pairing it with a saree.
Another designer who is rewriting the way sarees and blouses are perceived in India is Anavila Misra. Having suffered through years of wearing extremely tight blouses, she only offers blouses in loose, anti-fit silhouettes that seem to bear no relationship with the saree itself. By fearlessly pairing her contemporary sarees with the loose fitted blouses and draping them in innovative ways, Misra has broken the saree from its traditional mould. Version 2.0 of the saree is contemporary and appeals to the modern working woman and fashionista alike. Anavila’s ultimate goal? For youngsters to feel as comfortable in a saree and blouse as they do in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. By redefining how the blouse looks, she has indeed taken the first step in making this possible.
One look at Rahul Mishra’s clothes and you would agree that they are rooted in Indian culture and yet have a global appeal. During the Amazon Fashion Week 2015, Mishra managed to bowl us over by innovatively pairing his designer sarees with structured jackets and trench coats doubling up as a blouse, meant for the new age bride. That Sonam Kapoor chose to wear an ensemble from this collection during one of her public appearances - a Benarasi saree with a powder blue Chanderi silk jacket was an endorsement of the style which soon went on to become a trend. Despite not being used to seeing designer sarees in this avatar, we ourselves felt that the jacket made for a refreshing change when compared to the traditional blouses. What we think makes this combination work is the fact that it is an unconventional, yet practical pairing. Imagine the warmth that a cropped or a medium length jacket or a trench coat can give you on a chilly winter day - who would not be up to try a combination like this!
David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore of the label Abraham & Thakore have been credited with the revival of the saree as a symbol of sartorial style. So what’s so special about their sarees aside from the weave? You guessed it right, the blouse! Their sarees are paired with crisp white shirts, linen jackets, bandis and vests, giving the buyers a whole gamut of ideas about how they can style their saree.
Blouses in clean lines and boxy silhouettes don’t take away from the femininity of the ensemble but definitely make it sharper and smarter. Finished with elements like leather belts and sling bags, their ensembles mean business and can seamlessly merge with the bespoke suits in the boardroom. Now, who wouldn’t want to make a statement in outfits like those? No wonder the brand and its designer sarees are so popular with the sophisticated urbane crowd.
With so many designers giving the saree a facelift with modern blouses, it has indeed become an option for occasions beyond weddings - boardrooms, casual outings, brunches and even dinner parties. Here’s to all the designers who have used modern blouses and innovative drapes to make the saree so much more comfortable, innovative and most definitely, distinctively smart. As you can see, there has never been a better time to experiment with the saree than now. Pair it with your most favourite separates, twist it up, turn it around and let your individuality come through in your outfit. With that, it is a wrap today!
Image credit: Sareedreams, Elle, Sanjay Garg, lifw, Anavila, Pinterest, Abraham-Thakore