Tips to Recycle Your Indian Ethnic Fashion Apparel

November 10, 2018

Fashion Style

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A Young Fashionista’s woes…

I got married a few years ago. After some time, my sister-in-law married. Then came my beloved cousin’s wedding. In between, I also attended myriad festivities, friends’/colleagues’ weddings, celebrations etc.

I am grateful for the happy occasions. I truly am! But, why am I sounding a little miffed? Because, in the process, I ended up collecting a lot of ethnic party wear – that I rarely get to wear/repeat.

My heart misses a beat, whenever I see my elaborate and ornate wedding ensemble. I could wear it again – on my sister-in-law’s wedding, but only briefly. I found it so heavy and cumbersome, the second time around, wondering how I managed in it on my D-Day!

I have not managed to repeat many of my bridal dresses/ sarees, as the guest list is, invariably, the same. Many sarees I had bought as a part of my wedding trousseau haven’t seen the light of the day.

Sheepishly, I have to admit that my size has changed. I cannot fit easily into my bridal salwar suits, shararas and Indian Fusion wear. So, they stay in neat piles, eating away my precious wardrobe space.

Whenever there is a function, and I splurge on trendy ethnic wear, my husband and even my parents dutifully remind me of what all I already have in my Indian-wear closet.

It’s not that I don’t feel bad on seeing all these expensive purchases languishing, and my hard-earned money getting spent on buying new ones – knowing well that I won’t wear them more than twice.

But, what to do!

Our answers…

RECYCLE is the word! You can recycle your lovely Indian and Bridal attire with some smart strategies, a bit of tailoring and intelligent tweaking. Here are a few tips that you can follow – so you won’t need to part with your beloved traditional purchases –

A. Bridal Ensemble and other heavy items in your trousseau

It’s always easier to RECYCLE your bridal attire, if you had invested in a classic. Overly quirky or faddish pieces are somewhat difficult to re-style, but you must still try.

    • The Indo-Western Look – Traditional skirts, lehengas and chaniyas are being avidly paired with simpler blouses, thanks to the latest fashion styling. Follow this trend to your advantage, and use your pretty wedding lehenga multiple times. Pair your dressy lehenga with a longer, more demure top – in a Western silhouette. Don’t take a dupatta.
    • Dress it down – Pair your lehenga with a simpler choli, in plain satin/ silk – with no embroidery, and a plain net or printed silk dupatta. The colors of the new additions must be contrasting to the lehenga. Experiment, and choose strikingly different colors. This will create an entirely new outfit – and you will end up spending way lesser.
    • Cut it up? – If you have the heart, cut up your lehenga to reduce its length or its flare (remove a few kalis). Fish-style lehengas can be cut in two parts; cut at the knee-length. The skinny portion will give you a unique, traditional pencil skirt. To the lower half, add a plain elasticated belt waist to create a shorter, flared skirt. Pretty nice, eh! Today, many designers re-construct beautiful Bandhgalas and Kurtis from bridal lehengas. Maybe a few years after your wedding, it’s not such a bad idea!
    • The Blouse Chronicles – Heavy cholis and blouses from the wedding attire can be paired with plainer, lighter sarees or plain Chaniyas/ Bohemian Skirts. You may also wear ornate blouses under net/ see-through capes and long jackets, which are in vogue now. To carry this look, pair your dressy wedding blouse with a sharara style flared pants or palazzos, and cover up with a long, structured, transparent jacket. If you are into fusion wear, heavily embroidered cholis will be your best bets, while doing a Denims-Choli combo.
  • The Flying Dupatta – The lovely, crystals encrusted, zardozi embriodered dupatta that is a part of your bridal ensemble is too pretty to be wasted. You will see many Punjabi women getting plain salwar suits stitched in the same colour and fabric as their lehenga. Why? Pairing the lehenga’s dupatta with these plain suits is an excellent idea. If wearing this heavy dupatta is not your cup of tea – cut it up! Re-construct your beautiful wedding odhani to create to-die-for Kurtis/ Bandhgala/ Cape or Kameez.

B. Saree

Heavy bridal sarees are not very wearable, given their gaudiness, bright colors, heavy embroidery, thick material etc.

Invest Right – Try not to buy too many heavily embroidered sarees in faddish designs. Stick to classics, as they wear well.

Keep changing your cholis and blouses – Rather than sticking to the blouses made from the material that comes with the saree, feel free to experiment. Get your blousons stitched in contrasting material, colors, prints and even different work.

Re-construct – Sarees are nothing but 6 yards of free flowing fabric. So, you can do a good amount of re-cycling with this wonder apparel. Cut up your plainer sarees to create chaniyas or skirts to be worn on Navratri and lighter functions, festivals etc. They may also be re-constructed into Anarkali Kameez or Kalidaar Kameez/ Jacket. The ornate pallus may be used as hems on dupattas for these garments, or you may cut them up to create separate kurtis/ blouses etc. Flowy shararas and palazzos may also be created from sarees with borders.

Combine – Okay, this may sound a bit crazy, but you can cut up two of your sarees in similar fabrics, but contrasting colors or elements – in halves. Get a deft darner to stitch up the half of one saree with the half of another – voila, you have a designer, self-created saree.

Dupatta magic – You may cut up your saree to create a dupatta and kameez set. If you only want to keep the dupatta, gift the other half length of the fabric to a friend.

Gowns/ Dresses – Sarees can be magically transformed into lovely Indo-western gowns and dresses, provided you have an adept tailor/ designer at your beck and call.

C. A little More…

  • Pair your dhoti pants with short, straight cotton kurtas for the chic glam look.
  • Wear a long Kameez with embroidery detail over a tight pair of leggings, and see how stylish you look.
  • Team crop tops and sleevless net jackets with sarees for that ultra-trendy vibe.
  • Replace heavy salwars in your designer salwar suits with trendier cigarette pants, wide-legged culottes and ankle-length leggings with zipper details.
  • Re-construct your long anarkali kurtas into long, open front jackets/ capes.
  • MIX and MATCH should be your Mantra!