Wearing your first gown marks your transition into a grown-up, but wearing your first sari marks your transition into a lady. If this coming-of-age milestone didn’t seem daunting enough from afar, trying to step into your mum’s shoes and wearing her prized brocade should do it. There’s no discounting the sentiment woven into those six yards; from worrying if everything will hold up the way it’s supposed to, consider your worries immediately graduating to a catastrophic level of whether you’ll justice to it. Spoiler alert? You will, with just a little bit of planning and prep.
Having spent all your life watching your mom bury her favourite Benarasi sari under a mountain of tissue paper, how do you decide when is the right time to take her most cherished heirloom for a test drive? Yes, it might seem wiser to delay the moment and slot it on a to-do list for your 30-year-old self. But, know that you are just as capable of doing right by her treasured sari in your 20s as well. This is the decade is that you’ll be working on finding your own unique style statement, and there’s nothing like a keepsake from your mom to get you past the chequered start line. Worried that you’ll look like a teen playing masquerade in someone else’s borrowed threads? Let’s get to work then.
If you’re still in two minds about pulling off this milestone, look to the 20s crew of Bollywood for some effortless inspiration. Alia Bhatt loves her Western silhouettes, but you won’t find her shying away from a good ol’ vintage drape. Her first ever sari outing on the red carpet came in the form of a handwoven chanderi silk sari from Madhurya. Likewise, Anushka Sharma may be a card-carrying member of the normcore movement, but she is helpless before the charms of a benerasi sari–the promotions run of her last release, Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017) had her going old school with a Raw Mango creation. If you’re looking for pointers on styling, Parineeti Chopra would recommend going in for the kill with a garland of gajra, a braided updo and temple jewellery to complement your traditional number.
Know before you go
For starters, if this is your first sari outing, you’ll definitely want to pencil in a dress rehearsal to score some practice walking without tripping over the hem—if possible, try walking down a flight of stairs to ensure that you aren’t in for any surprises on the big day. Behind every great sari is an army of safety pins working as tireless minions on ensuring that everything stays in place, so make a to-do list of all the assorted paraphernalia you’ll need beforehand to avoid running from pillar to post at the last minute. While you’re absolutely justified for wanting to preserve your mother’s memories, an ill-fitting blouse won’t do the final look any favours. If you can’t get a bespoke blouse stitched separately, get some discreet alterations done to her existing one to avoid drooping shoulders or a sagging bodice.
What to avoid
Yes, it’s true that what passed as high fashion in your mom’s time may not fall in the same category anymore. But at the end of the day, this isn’t just any other sari that you’ll be wearing. A couple of minor updates to the drape are understandable; changing the style completely won’t do justice to her or her memories. For the perfect finishing touch, root through her vintage jewellery kit and complete off the look with her favourite trinkets to recreate the same magic.
If you can’t find a vintage sari in your mom’s closet to your liking, scroll through our edit of the perfect weaves to add to your wardrobe.