Do you know what a humble beginning the modern saree blouse had? We always imagine a saree blouse to be an unstitched fabric draped by women from time immemorial, dating back to pre Indus valley civilization. This continued in
various forms in different parts of India, the sarees always had a variety of ways of draping it, each region had one. Blouse as an upper garment only came into the fashion scenario in the British Era, thanks to Jnanadanandini Devi, the sister in law of Rabindranath Tagore. She came up with a stitched upper garment and called it a blouse and a skirt, as inner wear for the saree and named it “petticoat”- borrowed from British vocabulary
These outfits were inspired by the British women and is their contribution to India’s spectacular fashion.
Since then the saree blouse was swiftly adopted by the elite class. As the Bollywood era progressed it became a major influencer for the middle class women too, who followed Bollywood actresses in their style and that’s when collar blouses, 3/4th sleeves and ruffles came into the limelight.
My grandmother always used to narrate stories about heirloom sarees and how women used to maintain them for years together, eventually to pass it on to their daughter and daughter in laws along with antique resplendent jewellery pieces. According to her, women then used to hand stitch cholies along with batwas from luxurious mashru weaves and pure resham and zari woven fabrics to be worn for the family weddings. Day to day cholies were the opposite, stitched as a choli for comfort rather than style.
Blouse has evolved from being a mere fabric draped to cover to being the most sensuous garment of modern day fashion. Its evolution has taken a full circle when Elie Saab and other top notch designers were inspired from the modern day saree blouse ensemble.
18th century women draped their sarees over their heads to merely cover their shoulders. Cut to 20th century women are
happy to show off their stylish blouses all thanks to the beautiful gift by Jnanadanandini devi, we have metamorphosed this into a sacrosanct to be preserved and admired like a piece d'art. It has become the most talked about silhouette in Bollywood songs, call it soul stirring or by any other name , what’s in a name though?