All those shades of colour are actually bolts of cloth. Each a subtly different shade from the one next to it.
This is where you come once you’ve bought your beautiful sari and you want to make sure the blouse matches perfectly.
Or rather, most sari’s – or the better quality ones anyway – come with material to make a blouse. The cloth for that is called a blouse piece. But the blouse tends to wear out much more quickly than the main sari, much as trousers wear out on suits faster than the jacket.
So, you roll along to a matching shop and choose the colour that is closest to one of the main colours in the sari material. Usually you can choose between silk, cotton and silk cotton mix. For me the last is the best as it lasts for ages, drapes well and doesn’t make you heat up like boiled milk as silk can in the heat. In really humid conditions cotton is really the only answer. But they don’t just sell cotton and plain silk, you can also get georgette and organza and a whole heap of other things in much more limited colours.
In the main fabrics you get a huge array of shades and everyone takes it very seriously as to what is a good match. Nothing quick about these decisions – you get three or four options (a little more magenta in the blue? Or course, try this one), and this being India, often three or four very insistent opinions. But unlike most other places here, people will defer to your colour decision – they know that it’s a very personal choice. They’re right of course, but it’s your choice to wear the wrong colour.
This is a country which takes colour and dressing well very, very seriously.
As I am rather obsessed with colour from all those years of working with light, I often have to be forcibly restrained in matching shops, else I buy everything I can see. Then I take it round to my tailor and ask him to make me up the same thing in three different colours. Hence my many, many identical kurtas. Well identical apart from very subtle colour changes. You may think I have fifteen blue shirts… I know differently. Some are cobalt, some Prussian blue, one is actually viridian…
In some ways with colour… I fit right in here
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