It was purple and cream with gold stitching. It was a Kolam silk. I was 19 years old and it was the first saree I had bought to wear to a Tamil function.
My love for sarees has only grown exponentially since then. In fact, it has become an addiction. I must have at least a hundred.
I enjoy saree shopping just as much as - if not more than - shopping for other clothes. For me and many others like me, shopping is a form of therapy. It improves my mood, alleviates anxiety and can even provide creative inspiration.
Clearly not everyone feels this way. Online shopping is a great time saver for many people for this very reason. No crowds, no wait times, and you can shop whenever and wherever you want. Over the years I, too, have resorted to online shopping for various items due to convenience and perks such as cash back from various sites. I have even done some saree shopping online.
However, regardless of the website, price or quality of the item, when the saree arrives, there is always something about it that doesn't feel right. There is simply no other experience like buying a saree in person. To all my fellow saree loving Tamil women, you know exactly what I mean.
You walk through rows of brightly displayed, gleaming sarees and stop to examine each one for something that speaks to you. Something catches your eye, and the sales clerk pulls it out and flips it open. You caress your fingers over the soft silk, and if no one is looking you may even take in the crisp smell of that new saree. Then you see something else that catches your eye, so you move on to the next one and the next one. It could take hours, but you keep on going until you find just the right one!
I know what some of you are thinking - what a waste of time, just pick one and get on with it! But hold on, this is not just a shopping trip for some of us. Saree shopping is a sublime experience.
When I really think about it, it seems odd that Tamil women spend so much time and money buying sarees that we may only wear once. But there are more than just cultural reasons for our attachment to sarees. It symbolizes femininity. When you find one that speaks to you, that reflects your style - whether traditional, laid back or bold - and is worn with confidence, it is an extension of your personality.
I'm always looking for an excuse to wear sarees. I have become much smarter at restyling my older sarees to give it a fresh look. For example, mixing and matching blouses, wearing a plain black blouse instead of the matching one to make a saree stand out, and having new saree blouses made can all give your old sarees a fresh look. And if someone really does remember you wearing that same saree five years ago, be flattered that you must have looked amazing enough to leave that lasting impression on them.
Saree shopping is definitely like shopping for a unique piece of art. Even if it seems more convenient to pick and choose styles from the myriad of online websites, there is an impending urge that makes some of us go out to a store once in a while and experience it in person.
So my fellow sareeholic friends - keep on shopping and nurturing your love for sarees!
Featured image credit: www.parisera.com
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