T-shirt sarees are an innovation in the styling of the traditional saree by substituting the saree blouse with a t-shirt. Although the t-shirt is the element that has been innovated (by replacing the traditional saree blouse), the whole look is classified as the ‘t-shirt saree’. This look has little to do with the saree type, although contemporary sarees are preferred.
This ethnic innovation came about in 2013 on international fashion ramps and was then emulated by many. The t-shirt plays on the embellishment and color of the saree rather than the fabric and thus gives the wearer a trendy and chic look.
Tracing the source of this trend to one designer is a little tough as more than one Indian designer brought this style to the forefront at around the same time. However, pioneers of this fashion trend include Sabyasachi and Payal Khandwala. On the ramp, satin-silk sarees were teamed up with striped t-shirts to create an offbeat look. The term ‘t-shirt’ used in this saree style is an umbrella term for t-shirts, shirts, blouses, tops, crop tops, designer blouses and all other variants of the t-shirt top one can think of.
Sources of Inspiration
The inspiration for this innovation in the saree blouse came about in an attempt to fuse Western blouse styles into the most traditional of Indian garments. Besides being unconventional, it is also comfortable and easily available in any woman’s closet. This was another inspiring factor i.e. to add ease and convenience to the saree-wearing experience. Although there have been other Western innovations in the saree, none of them have caught on as unanimously as t-shirt sarees have.
Another strain of inspiration that one can see in the use of t-shirts in place of saree blouses are the cholis or long jacket-like blouses worn by urban Gujarati women with a Gujarati-style saree drape. Instead of going with the traditional jacket, one can take on a t-shirt which essentially is as long as the jacket-like choli, has longer sleeves than the saree blouse and is as covering as the Gujarati choli is supposed to be.
The whole premise of comfort and convenience removes the tedious task of creating a special type of blouse to go with a saree. Designers have used the t-shirt to enhance various aspects of the saree such as its color, its print and in some cases its lustrous fabric, among others. Since the function of the t-shirt is to enhance the saree, it needn’t be made of any specific material (not even the one the saree is made of). The only condition is that the t-shirt must be snug-fitting as it is essentially supposed to be a substitute for the saree blouse (which is also snug-fitting).
Style and Variety
On the ramp, t-shirt sarees have been seen in a number of styles. For instance, Sabyasachi satin-silk sarees in neutral colors have been paired with bold striped t-shirts with elbow-length sleeves.
Payal Khandwal, on the other hand, chose to use a button-down shirt blouse in rich purple with the collar buttoned up in order to enhance blocks of other rich colors in a silk saree.
Other varieties of the t-shirt style upper garments for women such as shirts and crop tops are also commonly used in high-fashion circles. One such example is that of Masaba Gupta using a black crop top to go with a pale printed saree.
Designer tops and shirts are another popular types of blouse-substitutes that are often seen among younger women.
Popular fashion bloggers in the industry have thrown light on how sleeveless shirts, plain colored t-shirts, scoop-neck t-shirts and other variants can easily be paired up with a saree as long as it is fitting and enhances the properties of the saree.
Present Day Scenario and Global Influence
The critical reception of the t-shirt saree has been positive for the greater part as it is modern, easy on choice and convenient. An innovation for the modern age, the t-shirt saree has been worn by many Bollywood starlets such as Kangna Ranaut and Kajol to special events and occasions. The appeal of the saree has increased all the more since the invention of this blouse-style. It appeals to the younger demographic in India and abroad. Moreover, the use of a t-shirt doesn’t bring the style-quotient of the ensemble down, as is the common misconception. On the contrary, it makes one look unconventional and trendy, and has higher chances of turning heads.
Wearing the Attire
The only thing that the wearer needs to think about when sporting a t-shirt saree is the occasion in question. More formal and festive occasions, warrant fancier t-shirts and designer shirts in keeping with the tone of the saree. Casual and party wear sarees can be paired with plainer and funkier t-shirts to give a more hipster vibe than the sophisticated elegance vibe.
The best way to accessorize this type of saree is to wear statement necklaces and chunky finger rings with it.
One of the sources of inspiration for a t-shirt saree is that it is low on maintenance. It is also one of the biggest advantages of sporting a t-shirt saree. The wearer can pick out almost any t-shirt from the closet to go with the saree. Even if a t-shirt has to be purchased, this item of clothing is affordable.
Facts and Trivia
- Kajol was spotted sporting a t-shirt blouse with another ethnic innovation, the half half saree.
- Another innovation of the saree has resulted in the creation of ‘saree pants’ which involves wearing pants instead of an underskirt with the saree.