This is the age when a woman does not just wear a saree and blouse with a little facial make-up. Accessories have become a must-wear or carry for many a woman who wants to be in vogue, also making her feel that with accessories her entire look gets tremendously elevated.
What then is a fashion accessory?
It is an item that contributes to the basic outfit, by way of complementing to enhance the look. The choice of accessories not only reveals the taste and thought process of the individual but also indicates some facets of her personality. Accessories are plenty and come in all manner of shapes, sizes and hues.
Fashion accessories are broadly categorized into
1) those that are carried – that include purses and handbags, glasses, hand fans, parasols and umbrellas, wallets, canes, and ceremonial swords.
2) those that are worn – that include jackets, boots and shoes, cravats, ties, hats, bonnets, belts and suspenders, gloves, muffs, necklaces, bracelets, watches, sashes, shawls, scarves, lanyards, socks, pins, piercings, rings, and stockings.
The choice of accessories made by an individual can be based upon where the woman is going. The accessories for formal occasions and the work place would differ from that for a social visit. Here the individual’s economic status, religion and cultural background make a difference.
In fact, the Victorian era saw accessories like fans, parasols, gloves etc. make a significant difference as regards the race and class in social circles.
The saree being a traditional garment for Indian women, the accessories that went with it were more or less standard but here the accessories were more for fashion and style rather than have any bearing on social status.
But what did matter for the wearers of the saree is how it looked – accentuated or awkward, splendid or embarrassing.
We take a journey into the world of accessories exploring which sort of accessory would look good with what type of saree, the occasion, the colors that would suit and other factors that would go toward a positive effect for the wearer.
Accessories of wear
- Statement Jewelry
Any Jewellery that is glaringly obvious, or worn with the intention of being noticed, for any reason whatsoever would constitute statement jewellery. It is literally ‘hailing’ the attention of onlookers, and based on its choice lends a special appeal or opinion about the wearer. Today’s style is heavy and large pendants that seem part of the outfit and minimalist bracelets at the wrists to accentuate the look. It’s a reminder of the Victorian era once again.
- Waist belts
Once considered an ‘ancient’ classic, it is back in fashion. Waist belts have a dual effect. They not only look stylish but also provide a slender appearance to the wearer. Also known as “Kamarbhand”, stone studded belts are fast becoming a craze whereas the gold and silver waist belts have already been doing nicely with the saree.
- Hair accessories
With the traditional saree’s appearance being heavy, it leaves little room or necessity for hair accessories. A cosmetic touch-up of a few hair pins, a forehead ornament and a little glitter, not too obvious in between the hair would work marvelously.
- Jacket Blouses
Some see accessories as being part of the outfit, others do not like extra weight on their body. Wearing of a jacket blouse that is plain and pastel-colored, paired with a choker and a nice bracelet on the wrist would look wonderful.
The brooch comes very handy for those nervous about their pallus or pleats getting displaced or undone. Pins look very old-fashioned so a large brooch especially created for such purpose of holding pallu and pleats in place would be ideal. Traditional Jhoomars look lovely and chic.
The Bindi is a simple but necessary addition to the woman’s saree attire. It started with vermillion but now has gone vividly colorful. The simplest is the most elegant they say. The plain round or the oval in the body color matches beautifully. The bridal designer or cocktail saree could be paired with the rhinestone studded designer bindi and shaped the way you want to.
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Small and cute looking, the clutch is a sophisticated way of carrying essential items like the mobile, the vehicle keys and one or two items more only. It is a clutch not a handbag that could be stuffed when needed. What about the clutch color? Contrast works fine but the ostentatious clutch serves best. Surprisingly the traditional ‘potla’ looks great with a classic Kanchipuram saree.
Style disasters best avoided
While what looks best with the saree is what women want told, what many a time is not mentioned is what is best avoided. Certain things do not go together as per convention and any woman in attempting a style could bombard her own attempts to look good.
1.Doomed by footwear
What is worn on the foot could be at ground level but the critical crowd could just be waiting to say that nasty thing, since it is all about one-upmanship. Wedges, the casual platform heels, ballerina flats or the flip-flops are all to be given the go-bye with the saree. While the overall look tends to get distorted flat footwear could flatten your ego. The tik-tak sounding stilettos or the peep-toes help matters tremendously and even give that slim, tall look that is flattering.
2. Wearing heavy jewellery
While a saree is never complete without some jewellery, it should also not be overdone. Mismatched, loud or colourful jewellery could ruin the look of the saree, making you look gaudy. Simple and little uplifts the look. Overdone, jewellery wrecks the beautiful image built up till then. Heavy necklaces just don’t suit women with fat on their neck and collar bone.
3. Carrying the wrong bag
Sometimes the accompanying handbag that contains assortments and ends thrown in is forgotten about. Clutches and potli bags work best with sarees.
4. The wrong kind of blouse
Neither the loose blouse that can make you look sloppy and old-fashioned nor the tight one that shows off your bulging fat in unflattering ways.
5. Done in by the wrong petticoat
A brightly colored petticoat shows through and ruins the saree’s beauty. Also the petticoat fit as also its fabric play a significant role.
The long or short petticoat should to be avoided; the long shows through embarrassingly, the short feels uncomfortable inside. Flared petticoats bulge out and the elegant shape gets converted to shapeless mass of fabric. Loose petticoats strung up at the top causes a heap at the waist and a bulky look. And what about that narrow petticoat? An extremely bad situation indeed, making you walk like a duck. The Heels go best with a floral sheer fabric over a petticoat that’s just right and touching the floor.
Tips to take home
- When the saree is full of patterns, it would do good to keep the accessories simple. Accessories should be matched for colors, patterns, your body type, your complexion and the occasion for wearing it.
- Accessories and body types? Surprised? That’s how it is.
- Tall, thin women look best with short, slouchy bags like hobos and clutches.
- Petite women should avoid oversize bags since they overwhelm their small frames.
- Short women should steer clear of handbags with long straps. Plus-size and hourglass-shaped women look good with medium-sized bags.
- Plus-size and hourglass-shaped women look best with medium-sized boxy or structured handbags to balance out their curves.
- The round face is best left alone with very little jewellery.
- For fair complexioned women, white, off-white, peach, or yellow coloured sarees are the best options.
For dark or dusky women, sarees in a dark colour like dark pink, dark purple, maroon or green suits them best.
- Jewellery should be worn according to the occasion and look of the saree. With the plain cotton sarees, a light dangling earring, a thin gold chain and a couple of gold bangles to complete the look.
A saree with silver zari looks best with silver or diamond jewellery while a saree with gold work teams up well with gold jewellery.
South Indian coin jewellery works well with designer sarees. Gold plated jewellery will match all your traditional sarees.
Jewellery with a combination of traditional and western designs is best suited for a faux georgette saree.
And then you have choosing the saree accessories for the occasion
Saree accessories for parties or wedding
For parties or weddings, the best accessories would be an embroidered bag embellished with sequins, threadwork or beads, chandelier earrings, choker necklace, a large cocktail ring, bangles, hip chain (kamarbandh) and anklets.
The kamarbandh works best if you are attending a wedding. It is recommended that you drape your saree on your lower hip when wearing a kamarbandh. However, the kamarbandh doesn’t look good if you have a broad waist.
Saree accessories for work-day
For work-day occasions, simple accessories like delicate jewellery (subtle earrings, thin bracelet, long sleek chains with small pendants), classic watch, large satchel or shoulder bag and open-toe heels or chappals work best. This will accentuate your looks and make you look younger!
Saree accessories based upon complexion
When the saree is chosen as per the complexion it not only heightens the allure but also beautifies the wearer. Your choice of sarees should ideally serve as a contrast to your complexion and not become a cover-up. If you have a wheatish complexion, pick colours from the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, i.e., light colours or dark colours. Avoid picking the pastels if you can!
Accessories and the Bollywood tastes
- Since silk sarees are usually made with golden or silver zari threads and mostly have a traditional appeal, ethnic metal jewellery goes best with such saris. You can take a cue from Bollywood divas like Rekha, Kangana Ranaut, Sonakshi Sinha and Deepika Padukone who have been spotted wearing south silk drapes with heavy statement earrings. If you’re wearing heavy earrings then you can avoid wearing a necklace.
- You can add a contemporary touch to your saree with colourful beaded jewellery. Choose contrasting coloured semi-precious stones like an amethyst necklace over a beige silk sari or a pearl necklace over a black drape. Actress Kirron Kher and Vidya Balan give us major style goals with their bold and chunky jewellery collections.
There are lots more when it comes to accessories and the divas of fashion when they try out something new, introduce a new style for the rest to follow.
The woman of substance, knowing that her beauty lies within her, simply dresses ordinarily with just the bare minimum of accessories. It will be her radiance and natural look that would be so beautiful that all she would have to do is carry herself with poise and flair and automatically the attention of onlookers would rivet to her.