‘Rescue Mission Series’: How I Transformed an Old Saree into a ‘Designer Saree’ for £15

The ‘Rescue Mission Series’ is one of my favourite series on the blog and one that is underpinned by a concept I firmly believe in and promote constantly; reimagine, restyle and reuse. This is a series where I update old Indian clothes in my wardrobe and give them a new lease on life, in keeping with current trends.

The inspiration for this ‘rescue mission’ started when I saw a Bollywood celebrity on the internet wearing a beautiful floral printed saree edged with matching feathers on the pallu. I liked the concept of the design and how the florals and feathers worked together in unison to create a chic style statement. When I dissected the makeup of the saree, I realized it was a simple combination of a pretty floral saree and a feather trimming on the pallu. Subsequently, I decided to try creating this with a floral saree already in my wardrobe.

This chiffon saree with a gorgeous blue floral pattern belongs to my mother and is at least 35 years old.  It was gifted to her by an aunt for the birth of her nephew (I love the Indian tradition of gifting clothes when a child is born – it cements a happy memory in your head forever). I decided that I would look for a feather trim in that virtual shop on the internet that probably sells everything one can ever dream of – Amazon.  As expected, the ‘shop of all things ever’ did not disappoint; I found this ostrich feather fringe trim (fake of course) for £7.69 per meter in a dazzling amount of shades. Not knowing which shade would work – I ordered two different shades of blue and decided I would combine them to get a better overall colour balance.  The total price for my trim was £15.38 (OK I fibbed a little – the total was a bit more than £15).

The one-meter trim was not enough to go end-to-end on the pallu so one side got a bit more of each blue and the middle has both colours combined – you can hardly tell.  I have to say that I loved the result and the vivid blues gave the saree an instant update and provided me with an ‘on-trend feather saree’ that was very close to the one I saw the celebrity wearing.  I took it on holiday recently to show my mother and I think she was really pleased with my ‘rescue mission’ on her lovely chiffon saree.  I even altered her blouse as I did not have one that would have work with the finished product.

The beautiful blue set I am wearing is by Heritage  Jewellery by Ridhi and it could not have matched the saree more perfectly.  The jewellery worked wonders in helping me achieve the sophisticated look I was after.

I hope you enjoyed my endeavour to create a ‘designer look’ with an old chiffon saree and some new fake feather fringe trimming. As always, thank you for reading my blog and supporting my creativity. If you enjoy my fashion and interior posts then please follow Isha’s Verdict on Instagram @ishasverdict.  Have a great week ahead!

Accessories:

Jewellery – Heritage Jewellery by Ridhi (tel:07734 806481), @heritagejewellerybyridhi 

Feather Border –  Amazon (Ostrich Feather Trimming fringe for Millinery in Midnight Blue and Peacock Blue, Sold by: Amaharryzon

A 1971 Wedding Story Part 2: Told Through the Wardrobe that Featured

As I mentioned in the first post of this series “A 1971 Wedding Story: Told Through the Wedding Wardrobe that Featured”,  my parents had an arranged marriage in Punjab, India in 1971. As both the families of the betrothed lived in Ludhiana, this was referred to as a ‘local wedding’. Back in the day, especially with local matches, long engagements were frowned upon as heaven forbid the couple get cold feet or a key family member have a change of heart (or discover some shady information about each other I assume). In order to ensure that such a calamity did not arise, the generally accepted wisdom dictated a  ‘chat mangani phat vya’ (quick engagement and immediate wedding).  My parents had a year old long engagement that was almost unheard of at the time.  Favourably, as my father was in the merchant navy and was due back at sea soon (and lucky for my grandparents sailing waters are quite a distance from Ludhiana and their daughter) the long engagement was given the go-ahead by all involved.

A year-long engagement had some advantages; it gave my mother ample time to shop for her wedding trousseau. What that meant, in reality, was multiple trips to ‘Chowra bazaar’, the main shopping destination in town (which contrary to its name is amazingly narrow) with both her own family and her soon to be inlaws. My mother fondly remembers that she would go with her mother and pick out a few sarees at Fakirchand (the happening saree shop in town in 1971) and leave them there on hold as they couldn’t decide on which ones to buy, with a promise to return the next day with some decisions.  When they would return the next day to purchase the final selection, the sarees would be gone. It turns out that my Dadi would also happen to go shopping there later in the day and of course, the saree man would inform her that her future daughter-in-law was in there earlier and chose a few sarees. My grandmother would then proceed to purchase those for her and instruct the salesman to tell her to choose some other ones for her maternal trousseau when she came in next. I think there was a certain charm to this kind of personalized shopping that will be lost forever in coming generations and with our preference for online shopping.

My mother says that she asked Mr. Fakirchand (I assume that was his name) that she really wanted a black evening benarsi tissue saree as part of her wedding trousseau.  He told her that he did not have one, but he would definitely get her one in the coming months. True to his word, this is the saree he sourced for her; the cost of the saree in 1971 was 250Rs.

That sounds ridiculously cheap by today’s standards but that was the standard cost of this kind of saree back then.  My mother informs me that the most money that was spent on a wedding outfit for her in 1971 was 2,500Rs. This was spent by my Dadi on her reception lehenga and her grandmother was utterly horrified at the expense (more on this when I lookbook the lehenga in question).

Once again, I love everything about this saree.  For one, this is a ‘loud and proud’ garment that announces your presence in a room. The abundance of colourful flowers on black, paired with the checkered border, is a wonderful combination of florals and checks done right on a saree.  There is something thoroughly modern about this 48-year-old saree that one could easily believe that it was purchased yesterday.  I couldn’t help but pair it with my green leather jacket; the combination of the old and new has a certain appeal that fits perfectly with my personal style sensibilities.

The tissue of this saree is now starting to fray a little and it saddens me to think that this saree will not survive much longer. I will take solance in the fact that I have documented it in this blog and shared it with you all so that we can all admire the beautiful weave and intricate handiwork that is this tissue saree.

I hope you have enjoyed this lookbook and have a great weekend ahead.  Thank you so much for reading and its lovely to be blogging again.  A special thanks to those lovely women who checked up on me to see if everything was ok as they had not seen a blog post recently. I have been exceptionally busy but its good to be back talking about fashion and sarees.