Srimoyi Bhattacharya wears a garnet red metallic saree with silver gold missing stripe pattern with a Chanel belt (Photo: Instagram/Pranay_Baidya)
Srimoyi Bhattacharya wears a garnet red metallic saree with silver gold missing stripe pattern with a Chanel belt (Photo: Instagram/Pranay_Baidya)

Cinched with a cummerbund

Saree isn’t just a piece of clothing
By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON FEB 20, 2021 02:21 PM IST

Saree isn’t just a piece of clothing. It’s a metaphor for female allure, a synonym for a dance movement. It’s the Holy Grail of the Indian style canvas. Never feeling dated and always coming across as impossibly of-the-movement, it can be styled to suit every fantasy. Of late, it’s been styled with an array of belts and cummerbunds - embellished, printed and embroidered. Last week Madhuri Dixit Nene looked chic and cheerful in a printed and embellished sari which was cinched at the waist with a matching belt. Singer Kanika Kapoor too opted for a Manish Malhotra sari teamed with a shine-on belt. Moreover, Nora Fatehi was a vision in an ornate sari paired with a leather buckled belt.

Singer Kanika Kapoor in a shimmery Manish Malhotra saree cinched at the waist with a sparkly belt (Photo: Instagram/ManishMalhotraWorld)
Singer Kanika Kapoor in a shimmery Manish Malhotra saree cinched at the waist with a sparkly belt (Photo: Instagram/ManishMalhotraWorld)
Madhuri Dixit Nene teams a printed and embellished saree with a statement belt (Photo: Instagram/StyleByAmi)
Madhuri Dixit Nene teams a printed and embellished saree with a statement belt (Photo: Instagram/StyleByAmi)

Palak Shah Founder, Ekaya attributes it to creativity being its organic and spontaneous best; and to the fact that experimenting with saris and belts together is simply a lot of fun. “Interest in the trend, and the resulting popularity, stems  from  understanding the sari’s

inherent fluid beauty. A belt helps accentuate its natural draping and fall on the wearer’s body, and from there, different styles of belts are simply an expression of personal taste,” says Palak.

In the recently unveiled Pranay Baidya’s campaign, his muse Srimoyi Bhattacharya wore a Chanderi saree accessorised with a vintage Chanel chain and medallion belt.

“Sarees worn with belts, cummerbunds and jeweled chains have been a longstanding tradition across several erstwhile princely states in India since time immemorial. It instantly adds a feminine flair to the wearer, highlighting their waist and also adding a beautiful structure to the saree drape. With sari’s styling always evolving, womenfolk are constantly looking at new and imaginative ways to style them. There is so much one can do with this versatile nine yard of textile, and belting it up sure has been receiving the popular vote,” shares Pranay.

Designer Ridhi Mehra observes that traditionally, the cummerbund has always been worn with sarees by women and has also been an integral part of a few regional bridal looks. “So, bringing together this accent from the past and sprucing it up with modern fashion paradigms has birthed this striking trend of belted sarees. Pairing a sublime organza saree with a fully embellished multi-coloured jewel belt brings out a stunning balanced look. Studded jewelled belts often make a good pair with a heavily embellished saree bringing out a gorgeous charm. Often, a leather belt too can accentuate impressively, giving out a chic formal look,” says Ridhi.

Designer Isha of label Roseroom opines that if we’re talking about elegance and power in one outfit, it has to be belted sarees. “Be it a wedding reception or any formal event, this fusion-wear outfit has got you covered. This trend is a perfect experimental amalgamation of sharpness of western-wear and delicacy of Indian-wear, exuding oomph into your personality; pulled off mainly by bloggers and celebrities. Also, this outfit is perfect for curvy body types as it accentuates at just the right places, thanks to the placement of the belt!”

Nora Fatehi belts up her sari with a leather buckled belt (Photo: Instagram/ManekaHarsinghani)
Nora Fatehi belts up her sari with a leather buckled belt (Photo: Instagram/ManekaHarsinghani)

Fashion blogger Sonam Babani. points out that the belt cinches your waist in. “This helps a great deal when it comes to certain saris that don’t give you a very shapely look when worn loose. Belts help you to cinch it in and it works really well to hold the sari together especially for the people, who find it difficult to handle saris. I think cinching the waist area with a belt just helps you to be more comfortable. So it not only works functionally, but also looks very chic. If you are wearing a printed sari, a leather belt would be a great match. Certain people opt for a jewelled belt as jewellery, in that case, you can use a beautiful diamond waist belt, which makes it an added part of your jewellery if you want to skip a neckpiece. There are certain zardozi belts that you can match with the border of your sari or you can wear something glittery if you are wearing a sparkly sari. I would say if you are wearing a silver sari then wear something silver-toned and if you are wearing a gold sari then wear something gold-toned. Sticking to the same colours of your metals is important. A bejewelled belt will work beautifully if you want to make a statement,” suggests Sonam.

A model in a cinched sari by Ekaya Banaras (Photo: Instagram/EkayaBanaras)
A model in a cinched sari by Ekaya Banaras (Photo: Instagram/EkayaBanaras)

There are no rules: that’s what makes the scope of fun ideas rather limitless. “Different textiles have different ‘weight’ and textures. The thickness, or chunkiness of the belt should be highlighted accordingly. In some cases, a typical buckled belt or button-up belt would be edgy and cool, and in some, a slimmer belt or even an obi-style sash would sit better. Contrast monochrome belts and saris with busy prints can work together. So could embellished belts and colour block saris. I also love the idea of belts made from leftover scrap fabric wherein the motif work and colour palette of the garment and the scrap fabric for the belt, are from the same family, but they’re not identical. Familiarity, and yet distinctiveness juxtaposed in this manner, can result in something quite clever,” adds Shah.

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