We’ve come a long way from bling being limited to stage appearances and New Year parties. From headbands to shoes and bralettes to ball gowns, everything has a version that is embellished with added shine. As we enter the party season - whether it’s for upcoming nuptials or just a night out with friends, one silhouette that is guaranteed to make you the centre of attention is a saree. Especially the ones that add instant glamour.
In spite of the fact that Indian fashion has always been inclined towards all things shiny, its interest grew manifold after the pandemic. In fact, it’s these glitzy sarees that became the mainstay in wardrobes throughout the year and have become the style choice of every it-girl.
With celebrities such as Kareena Kapoor Khan, Malaika Arora and Kriti Sanon wearing these new-age sarees, designers are adding more renditions of them to their portfolios, making a statement that there is no better time than to embrace the embellished.
The nostalgia trend effect
“Fashion keeps changing every now and then, but there are some fits that can never go out of style. Just like sequins and shimmer, they add their own class and beauty to everyday outfits,” tells Nishit Gupta, director of Kalki Fashion.
However, much of the modern appeal can easily boil down to one very simple factor: the internet. Sama Ali, creative director of House of Kotwara explains, “Fashion is cyclical, we are constantly repeating trends from the past and adapting them to the present day. It takes 20 years for this cycle to repeat, and with the advent of social media, the cycle spins faster and faster. In that sense, fashion is all about nostalgia, but the irony is that the people who are usually taking these trends to new heights are usually the ones who weren't born when they came around. They are just culturally nostalgic”
While sheen and bling may be appearing in unconventional ways, now on sarees, their history dates back thousands of years. Do you know what Michael Jackson, King Tutankhamun and Leonardo da Vinci have in common? A penchant for sequins. Evidence of gold sequins has been discovered in India on clothing fragments used as decoration in the Indus Valley as early as 2500 BC. Mostly these shimmery outfits doubled as ostentatious displays of wealth in places like Egypt, India and Peru and with their glaring sheen, they were meant to ward off evil spirits.
Certainly, accessibility is the harbinger of this trend, which is emblazoned almost everywhere for a touch of glamour. “Sequins and blingy outfits have made their way to the street now, earlier people used to shy away from wearing blingy because they were considered to be attention-seeking and bold. Or only the upper-class people considered it wearing for a fancy party earlier. Now, they are popular towards everyone for everyday charm,” adds Gupta.
Nailing the trend du jour
While sarees with added shimmer pop up mostly during festivals, it’s different this time and persisted well throughout the year. “People are re-embracing a full glam vibe after sitting around in their pyjamas for two years. Parties and weddings are back with a bang, and nothing is more glam than bling,” Ali reasons. For those who favour the classics, you can’t go wrong with a shimmery saree for these festivities. “A sequin saree goes a long way, be it a dinner party or a cocktail night,” adds Gupta.
However, styling a saree like this requires you to keep the other elements and accessories minimal and subtle. “There is a fine line between being a shining goddess and a shiny disco ball,” Ali rightfully points out.
If you’re looking for a way to ease into the trend, start by keeping the jewellery part simple and less complicated. “With all the shimmer, the sparkle already catches the eye, so keep it mild to enjoy the beauty of the outfit. It’s already a head-turner, and for you to maintain that bold appearance, go in for simple designs,” advises Gupta. “A daring neckline and dramatic silhouette on top of the sequins are not that necessary.”
This doesn’t mean these sarees need to be saved for night-outs only. “I think during the day if you choose to wear sarees with sequins, a balance must be achieved. The shine should enhance instead of overpowering. Restrict bling elements to blouses and borders and juxtapose them with plainer backgrounds,” advises Ali.
You don’t have to go all out luminous, instead take a look at how actor Janhvi Kapoor did with such style for a wedding, wearing a white sequinned saree. “If you’re picking out shimmering sarees to wear during the day, avoid bright ones. Instead, choose a subtle saree with minimal shimmer,” Gupta suggests.
A shimmer for every occasion
For the wedding and party season ahead, shimmering sarees are the fail-proof choice for your traditional uniform. Since nothing can put doom and gloom like a bit of sparkle, after all, caring for these little sparkles goes a long way. “You must always have them drycleaned and keep them folded individually in their own mulmul garment bags so they don't catch on things,” Ali advises.
Designers have tapped into the maximalist approach to dressing in ensembles heavy on glitz and glamour season after season, demonstrating how the shimmering sarees have become a modern mainstay, and why they should be in your regular closet rotation. Ahead find our best selection of shimmering sarees to transform your look and serve as an instant mood booster:
1. Mood-boosting colour rich
Heading away for the festivities? Don’t forget to pack the ultimate going-out saree for your trip - a sequinned one with feathers for some sass. Look to the mood from the ’60s for inspiration and find your groove in this shimmering saree by Neeta Lulla with embellishments and clashing colours. As for styling, the vibrant shade will look fresh for a relaxed feel that you can take from day to night.
2. Wedding guest-ready
The date has been set, and you've RSVP’d, but you're still unsure what to wear. Try an organza saree with a romantic feel to match the vibes of the joyous day. This pick designed by Vvani Vats with alluring hand-embroidered motifs will be your ticket to outfit gold.
Or you can channel your retro glam side with a delicate, minimalist sequin saree. Consider wearing it with a Banarasi handloom blouse with an interesting neckline, such as this one from Label Simar Dugal.
3. Golden evenings
You can’t go wrong with a shimmery gold saree. At the moment, even playful rose-gold iterations are making appearances. Our pick would be this glistening saree designed by Seema Gujral featuring sequin embroideries in geometric patterns. A fun pattern embroidery gives a futuristic twist.
4. A night out
An evening out in the town calls for something fun and feminine. Try an effortless, embellished pre-draped saree to make a shimmery statement. A midnight blue coloured would be a classic choice, or you can dabble with jewel tones to enhance that night glow. Some unique cuts, like a thigh-high slit on a saree, add extra interest to an otherwise simple form. Our pick would be this embellished saree with metallic fringes from Rohit Gandhi Rahul Khanna.
5. Day party
Shimmering sarees don’t have to be reserved for strictly nighttime hours. Some are ideal for an elevated brunch or bridal shower when made from matte-like sequin fabrics, in subtle prints and colours. Go for a magnificently embroidered chikankari saree like this one designed by Anjul Bhandari and embellished with pearls and sequins. Be sure to pair this stunner with casual, day-appropriate accessories to not appear over the top.
For daytime functions, it’s a good idea to keep the bling elements to a minimum. When it comes to making it more palatable for the day, work on toning down the shimmer with textural contrast. Or keep the colour palette to monochromatic pastels, it will help to tone down how loud shimmery styles can feel. An example is this delicate pink embellished saree by the House of Kotwara. It'll make you stand out without straying too far from a simple look.