Silks are rich, timeless and graceful. But so many types of silk fabric can also get confusing, especially when you’re on the hunt for the perfect partywear saree. Read on to know more about various types of silk sarees.
Hey beautiful! Saree is the traditional wear of India. But that’s not all. There are so many Indian fabrics and draping styles that are enough to try for a lifetime. But young Indian women, including me, often don’t wear them as silk sarees can get so confusing to shop for. They can range from just a thousand to lacs plus rupees – so confusing!! Even if we do wear them, it’s always for a special occasion.
But silk is so elegant and never goes out of fashion, and every Indian girl needs to know her silks to make investing in a beautiful saree easier.
However, with Indian silk fabric brands like Bharatsthali, it’s great to know that sarees, too, are evolving. Bharatsthali is a traditional Indian online saree brand that has a vast saree collection with unique styles from all over the country! And they’re making an effort to promote the timeless garment amongst the younger generation. From silk production process steps to types of clothes and material names to types of silk, we are here to help out with everything about silk textiles!
What is Silk?
Silk is a type of animal fiber. It was originally developed in ancient China giving rise to the trade route popularly called Silk Route. Silk is produced from silkworm. The worms are fed Mulberry leaves (and hence silk is also known as mulberry silk) and when they mature, they will spin their cocoon.
Cocoon is the silky protective case spun by the larvae of some insects and moths in which they metamorphose, the pupa. The mulberry silkworm first starts to spin a hammock of silk to support the cocoon. The hammock is a loose, irregular protective network of silk in which the cocoon is suspended.
How is Silk Made into Fabric?
Once the hammock is complete, the larva settles to produce an even, regular, and closely-knit cocoon of silk. The cocoon is much denser than the hammock and is formed from a single length of fine, strong, lustrous silk thread which is the source of commercial silk. Read on to know more about silk fabric!
Features of Silk
Silk was an important commodity in China for many years. In fact, under various Chinese dynasties, it was forbidden on pain of death to either reveal the secrets of the manufacturing process or take silkworm caterpillars or eggs out of the country. Nonetheless, silk production had reached Korea around 200 BC after waves of Chinese immigrants arrived there, and then India by AD 140.
Chinese could produce only one variety of silk. Silk was first primarily produced in Europe in Italy, and then on a more industrial scale in France. But today China still exports 90% of the worldʼs annual demand for raw silk. Other significant silk fabric producing countries are India, Brazil, Uzbekistan and Japan.
Properties of Silk Fiber
Here are a few properties of silk:
1. Silk is the strongest natural fiber available due to its continuous yarns. It’s lightweight, breathable and has good absorbency.
2. Silk is highly lustrous and has excellent drapability.
3. Silk is very hypoallergenic being naturally resistant to dust mites and mildew, therefore it is the ideal fabric for those who suffer from allergies.
Types of Silk in India
India, too, is one of the largest silk producing countries in the world. India produces four varieties of silk and they are mulberry, eri, tasar and muga.
1. Muga is one of the unique types of silk as it has a golden sheen and is a prized possession of India. Muga is largely produced in Assam and other north-eastern states and recently spread to West Bengal.
2. About 80% of the silk produced in the country is Mulberry silk, a majority of which is produced in the three southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu followed by West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir.
3. The tropical Tasar or tussar silk is produced largely in central India covering the tribal areas of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, etc. Oak Tasar is produced in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, etc.
4. Eri is grown in Assam and the adjacent north-eastern states, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha.
Different Types of Silk Sarees
So now that you’re well versed with information about silk, let’s find out more about silk sarees. There are a variety of silk sarees available. The Indian silk sarees include Chanderi, Banarasi, Assam, Sambalpuri, Kanjeevaram, Baluchari, Konrad, Paithani, Patola, Mysore, Bomkai, Bhagalpuri and many more. Most of these are named after the state and region they are weaved in!
Bharatsthali has a large variety of these silk sarees. They also promote local weavers work by combining different Indian cultures together to produce the best vibrant sarees. From light weighed soft silk to the heavy kanjeevaram silk sarees, these sarees are for everyone!
So, we went through their collections and listed the most gorgeous ones for you. We have made this guidebook for you to try silk sarees. From sangeet functions to weddings to office parties, our selection will add to a large number of wardrobe requirements!
Indian Traditional Silk Sarees
We have chosen the different types of silk sarees with pictures. And selected them on the basis of latest colors and styles for this year. So, let’s check them out!
1. Kanjeevaram Sarees
Kanjeevaram sarees are made with woven silk and hail from a place called Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Because of the name of the place, they’re also known as Kanchipuram sarees. These sarees are usually worn as bridal sarees down in South India. This is because of the thick fabric and the pure golden zari or threadwork. They are super expensive but this traditional saree is a blend of sheer elegance and royalty.
They are super heavy because of the gold zari and also probably the most expensive! However, to make it cost-effective, nowadays copper and metal zaris are used. However, this makes them lightweight and makes us millennials to sport them easily. The pattern of the body and pallu are always different and nowadays they are designed with contrast colors to match the liking of young women!
If you’re looking for an investment that you can wear whenever you want and always get compliments, kanjeevaram saree is the best bet!
These sarees, also use different botanical motifs like parrot, pot, peacock, patterns, animals and more. Since this is a heavy work saree, opt for gold jewelry, a pair of traditional jhumkas with a simple necklace and gold bracelet is perfect. Either tie your hair into a bun or sport a sleek straight hair.
2. Coimbatore Sarees
Coimbatore sarees are also known as Kovai Cora cotton sarees. The sarees are made in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. These sarees are a blend of cotton and silk. The best quality of cotton is mixed with traditional silk to produce kora cotton sarees. The sarees are woven first using a combination of colored cotton and silk threads. The borders are added later.
These sarees are perfect for religious events and ethnic functions. Braid your hair and style it with jasmine flowers for a traditional Tamil Nadu look!
This type of silk saree is soft and lustrous that gives a royal look. Personally, I love Mysore silk sarees as they’re lightweight and easy to drape. I mean I can atleast try compared to the traditional Kanchipuram sarees. Ugh! My mom-in-law won’t be happy with my inability to drape a saree, but I’m sure I’m not the only one! 😉
The tradition of Mysore silk sarees started because the kings and queens in Mysore who wanted to express their royalty and richness. The elegantly draped sarees that not only looked rich but were also comfortable and attracted the Aristocrats of that era. The simple use of yarn and zari to bring out true extravagance never ceases to amaze us to this date.
Plain solid color silk sarees are the traditional ones. However, small borders, contrast-colored pallus and checks are a few more designs are quite popular now. Wear them to office parties, lunches or on a traditional outing. The best part about these sarees is that you don’t have to accessorize much! Because of the comfort, they are famous in North of India and rest of the world, too, for summer!
4. Kerala Silk Sarees
A traditional Kerala saree is known as Kasavu. It is a handwoven cream colored saree with gold border, worn by Kerala women. Kerala Kasavu which was originally known as ‘Mundum Neryathum’, traces itself way back to the Buddhist era. Slowly, this style spread out all over India and became prominent in Kerala. Until the 1970s the traditional golden border on white or off-white sarees were fashionable.
But now, golden borders are replaced with different styles of zaris. This traditional saree is perfect for formal occasions or weddings in Kerala. You can wear other variants for small parties and get-togethers. However, personally, I prefer to wear this type of silk saree for religious outings. I would pair it with a gold necklace and studs!
5. Tussar Silk Sarees
Tussar silk is also known as non-violent silk because of the process used to make silk fibers. It is more textured than mulberry silk but has shorter fibers, which makes it less durable. Tussar silk has a natural gold color that makes it a great choice for weddings. As they are delicate, you need to dry clean it only and store it in a muslin cloth.
They are perfect for festive occasions, small get-togethers or for graduation, too! Pair a nude or golden color silk saree with a printed or multicolored blouse.
Dharamavaram silk sarees are woven by hand with mulberry silk and zari. They are made in Dharamvaram in Andhra Pradesh. The traditional color combination of this type of silk saree is yellow and maroon. This combination makes a common choice for the brides. Heavily embroidered sarees have more cost values attached to them.
They are well-known for the gold-plated borders and artwork imprinted on them. Gold plated motifs and patterns inspired from the religious symbols depicted in temples and other places of worship are also included.
So, I loved the bold buff and bindi sported by this model for Bhartsthali. Pair this classic colored combination silk saree with temple jewelry for a traditional South Indian wedding.
Soft silk sarees are nothing but lightweight silk sarees made from synthetic fabrics to make them cost-effective. The zari used is not pure like gold or silver. Their look has an exact resemblance to a pure silk saree. Go for off-white sarees with contrast pallus in the shades of pink, purple, green or maroon. Pair them with contrast colored blouses or off-white or make a statement by sporting a multi-colored blouse.
These type of silk sarees are perfect for South Indian weddings. They are easy to carry off even if you’re traveling!
Pochampally or Pochampally silk sarees are traditional silk sarees that are made in Bhoodan Pochampally in Telangana state. They have traditional geometric patterns in ikat style of dyeing. They, too, are lightweight and are perfect for festive occasions. I loved this combination of red and green color silk saree. Pair it with a matching clutch to your pallu and make a statement.
However, the traditional sarees are usually heavy and are known as bridal sarees in Andhra Pradesh. Gold jewelry looks the best with these traditional sarees.
Bhagalpur saree is the types of silk saree that are made from Tussar silk itself. They are produced in Bhagalpur, Jharkhand, hence the name. I loved this pink silk saree paired with a plain black blouse. It makes a great everyday wear, too!
10. Chanderi Sarees
Chanderi silk sarees are produced from Chanderi cotton and silk cotton in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. They have sheer texture and luxurious feel. They are basically classified into three types – Chanderi silk cotton, pure silk and Chanderi cotton.
The Chanderi cotton sarees are a must-have item in every saree connoisseur’s list. Wear them to work, team lunch, when you have presentations or even a coffee date! Pair them with plain black or matching blouse.
Cotton sarees are pretty famous here in the South of India. And maybe this is because of the humid weather conditions. And we’re not complaining. They make great dailywear attire! The best part is you can go for cotton silk sarees, a combination of both cotton and silk for special occasions.
Matka silk is obtained from the waste of Mulberry silk and is known as Bombyx Mori. It is largely obtained from states of Karnataka and Kashmir. But the spinning is done in Malda and Murshidabad districts in West Bengal. Matka silk also resembles the tweed fabric in texture. The sewing of matka silk is very easy and the thickness can vary as per the amount of yarn used.
The fabric is famous even in the runway fashion, too! This fabric is preferred due to its economical price, fabric strength and is lightweight, too, compared to other popular types of silk sarees like Kanjeevaram.
Crepe is a silk, wool or synthetic fiber fabric. It is also called as crepe for its crispiness. These sarees are lightweight and easy to carry off. Usually, young women love to wear them due to the comfort factor! Wear them to parties, lunches or even for an outing! Keep it simple and you can even rock ’em without accessories!
So, that was all about different types of silk sarees! Which style did you like the most? Which types of silk sarees have you already tried? Let us know by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja!
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Sahana is a Senior Staff Writer at ShilpaAhuja.com. With an experience in fashion and lifestyle writing, Sahana is responsible for Indian and international fashion week coverage every year, and is developing an expertise in apparel trend forecasting. She also writes about health and fitness, having pursued yoga for 6 years now. She’s not a gym person at all but is all for “running in the park” and is an amateur cyclist. Books and coffee are her other passions. She’s also an amateur photographer. She’s a hardcore Bollywood fan and she loves to cover the nostalgic topics on the same. From fashion trends to famous characters, she can make anyone love Bollywood! Her best article has been 90s Bollywood fashion, a readers’ favorite so far! Prior to her experience with ShilpaAhuja.com, Sahana has written as a freelance author for online magazine, Mashup Corner, and interned at EventsHigh as a content writer. Her blogs on basic fashion, makeup, fitness and city’s food joints that gave her a chance to experiment with her writing. She also has voiced her opinions about feminism and equal rights for men and women at PolkaCafe journals and after quitting her job, she decided to take up writing as her full time career.
Sahana is an engineering graduate and has worked in an MNC, Tesco, for more than a year as an Operations Support. It was her sheer love for fashion that made her quit the monotonous 9 to 5 job to pursue a career in the fashion industry. She’s originally from Bangalore and is currently settled in Chennai (she’s loving the city)! For any queries and discussions, contact her at [email protected] You can also tweet her at https://twitter.com/Sahana_17