I recently attended two weddings in a row. Now, contrary to popular belief, not all weddings in India are approached via elephant. This is a sad reality of India, but I have learned to live with it. However, there are many weddings in India, at any given moment, because of course there are many weddings in the world, but now is the high season, and because there are so very many PEOPLE here, the odds that you might have a wedding to attend between the months of October and March are, shall we say, high. And so it came to pass that I had two weddings to attend and nothing to wear to them.
I mean, I had literal clothing, obviously, I don’t walk around naked all day, that would be frowned upon, and in some parts of the world rather chilly. I even had nice clothing, but the dress code to these weddings was Indian wear, and this presents a problem for me. You see, I don’t have a lot of Indian fancy clothing. I don’t have a lot of Indian clothing, period, but this specific region is hard because it is expensive, and rather exclusive to certain events, of which I don’t attend all that many. I have my wedding lengha, which is far too grand for someone else’s wedding, because then I’m like, trying to be the star, and I have two beautiful saris that I don’t know how to pleat, or as they say here, tie, despite the fact that there is almost no tying involved in getting a sari on your body. So short of begging for a neighbor’s help, which I have done, not a great look for me, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I wasn’t all that confident in my abilities to sew something in the fancy Indian space, and buying something of quality is extremely expensive, which just feels like, is this worth it for something I don’t use all that much?
So I decided to have something made, something people do all over the country. It seemed like the perfect solution, ideal, even, and fun! I usually do all the making, but having something made seemed like a fun way to copy something beyond my talents. I met with a tailor in Kolkata, gave him my fabric and my image of a dress to copy which is a flagrant violation of copyright and totally something people do every day, and waiting for my dress.
Except he DIDN’T copy it. He made something else entirely, something bizarre, which was delivered to me a mere 7 days before wedding number 1.
I was, to put it mildly, displeased. My mother-in-law, who was with me, wisely chose not to translate all of my cursing into Hindi, but did communicate to the tailor that this was not, shall I say, what had been asked for. Apologetic, he assured us that he could fix it in time.
I have yet to receive it.
When people ask me why I make my own clothing, I am going to tell them it is because I don’t trust anyone else in this world. Seriously.
I sprang into action, and dashed (walked at a normal pace) to a fabric shop in Kolkata and threw together an idea. I hauled it all back to Mumbai and sewed like a maniac, grateful my office was closed after the 24th so I could have time to get this done. As my friend sped her way to my apartment, I was handstitching my hem and praying she hit traffic.
She did. It’s Mumbai. Everyone does.
And as she entered my home, I was arranging my dupatta, the sort of scarf you will see in a moment wrapped around my body. I did it, people. I made an Indian wedding outfit. In, like, two days. And that was the last time I went to a tailor, ever.
These photos are MEH but you get the gist.
From wedding number 2!
So what, exactly, did I do? Well, I was like, okay, a lengha is basically a big full skirt with a choli, or blouse, and a dupatta. And a choli is basically a fitted crop top, or a bodice. So, I can make each of those things, right?
The choli is actually a Colette Patterns Claudia bodice with snaps inserted on the left side, rather than a zipper down the back.
The skirt, I draped. The dupatta? I stitched a border on a piece of net and called it a DAY, people.
BUT IT WORKS! So WHATever, man, I did it.
I was lucky, of course, because really the fabric is aces, and that makes all the difference. The blouse is a cotton-silk blend which makes it super comfortable, and the skirt is a beautifully worked net over that cotton silk over cotton, to give it body and heft.
It’s very subtle with cream, peach, blue and mint. I adore it.
Rubens approved. He fought with the scraps for a bit, and then declared a stalemate to snooze.
So there you have it. Speed sewing, an Indian outfit, and a loathing for the tailor.
Which hopefully didn’t show in my “wedding appropriate” smile.
See? You can hardly see all the rage in there at all! I wore it all out making this outfit.