Come Diwali, and the festive pieces come piling out of the wardrobe, ready for their time in the limelight. Whether we are stepping out for a card party or a spot of Diwali shopping, we always seem to find a reason to add a Jhumka, a bindi or a few bangles. That’s what festivals do to us (among a host of other things). While I am busy getting my Diwali wardrobe ready, I am overwhelmed by the choice of ethnic upper wear and tops flooding the market today. The designers are swearing by crop tops, embellished pieces, capes, ethnic hand painted cholis and blouses – and lots more. So I decide to delve deeper and find out more about the blouse and its evolution.
Modesty and grace have forever been associated with Indian dressing and Indian women in particular. Not to start any feminist debate here, but we have done a fabulous job of covering ourselves with the finest weaves and artisan statements since time immemorial. The job of the blouse is to protect that very modesty, yet it also gives a peek of the midriff, keeping the feminine status of the garment very much alive and kicking. While there is lots going on with palazzos and skirts or lehengas, the humble blouse has also seen its share of evolution as a worthy partner for that fashionable crime of slaying the red carpet. The Mughal influence saw an influx of kurtas and kameez during the early 16th century. The Indian fashionista was not one to stay behind, and Jnanandanandini Devi from Kolkata, made the blouse a popular partner of the saree – and a permanent fixture in many a wardrobe. In fact, the term blouse was also recognized in Victorian times following this trend. Until such time, the saree had enjoyed a solitary journey. And before we knew it, the saree, the lehenga, the palazzo pants – all these and more – got a slew of matching and contrast pieces in the form of different blouses.
So here are our top three picks which you absolutely must arm yourself with, for the upcoming festive and wedding season!
The Hand Painted Blouse: Making a comeback from the days of the yore, the back painted and quirky yet artisan blouses are being favoured by fashionistas in all corners of the country. Take care to pair pieces crafted from rich fabrics and also colourful pieces which would go perfectly with plain or bright hued sarees. Add jhumkas for that finishing touch and you are in festive business! I am in love with these oh so affordable and designer pieces from Crazy Petals! These hand painted and hand crafted blouses have been created with rich handloom fabric which makes them all the more festive yet earthy. The bold paintings and the designer cuts make these a festive must have indeed.
The Cape: Now this is one piece of clothing that I would strongly recommend. Since the start of Navratri, I have been in search for the perfect cape. The beauty of this blouse or top lies in its sheer versatility. You can use it with Indian lehengas, palazzo pants, dhoti salwars and much more. And you can even use it with jeans and a dress. Simply wear a bling infused or sequined tank top or corset underneath and you have a statement that will be the talking point for days. I found this hand embroidered gold sheer cape with zardozi and hanging salli or tassles at Indian Colors by SHA . The piece took my breath away and my lehengas have a casual yet well dressed partner now. I am especially enamoured with the quality of hand embroidery, which is usually difficult to pull off with such neatness on a sheer fabric – a rare art form today!
The Artisan Woven Crop Top: Am I in love, or am I in love? You can never go wrong with ethnic artisan weaves and such beautiful art forms. No wonder I just had to own these pieces by Desi Almaree. The pieces are just as whimsical as the name. With Kalamkari and ethnic prints on silk based weaves, these crop tops shine in a light of their own. You can pair them with just about any saree or lehenga, and the effect with be vibrant, mesmerising and yet, oh so subtle. My perfect pairings would be Chanderi, cotton and linen based sarees and lehengas. Of course, don’t forget some pretty glass bangles and oxidized silver jewellery – and you are ready to sparkle! Notice how the bright fabrics and the subtle ones alike bring out the beauty of the painted prints. My next story is definitely going to trace the origin of these art forms in our fashion industry.