Characterized by intricately stitched designs of ornate patterns, zari work is a historic and beautiful method of decorating clothing and other fabrics.
When it comes to special occasions, few pieces shine brighter than a zari work lehenga choli or zari work salwar kameez. Apparel embroidered with the deeply traditional yet stylish zari method offers a touch of grace and elegance to any ensemble.
Let’s review the basics of this technique and how to pick the perfect outfit featuring zari work.
What Does “Zari Work” Mean?
Zari thread is instantly recognizable for its one-of-a-kind gold sheen. The word “zari” has Persian roots, deriving from the Persian word “zar,” meaning gold.
Zari work is embroidery that features the shimmering zari thread. Made by weaving and stitching metallic threads of silver and gold, this style of fabric decoration yields a precise and royal-looking essence.
Zari work is usually seen woven into silk, velvet, or satin clothing and accessories. Before the Industrial Revolution, this tread was only made with real gold or silver.
However, with the advent of electroplating, zari thread can be produced much faster. Today, zari thread is bolstered by cotton, viscose, pure silk, polyester, and more. This gives the stitching uniform flexibility and evenness — perfect for creating complex designs.
You can find zari work on upholstery, scarves, and furnishings. Most commonly, zari work is done on fabrics for clothing. Due to the precious metals and intense precision work, garments with zari work were reserved for Indian royal attire. Now, everyone can wear a dash of zari work, making an event an instant royal celebration.
How Is Zari Work Different Than Other Types of Embroidery?
Zari thread is just as complex and varied as zari work itself.
Duller zari thread is called “Kora,” and the more shiny thread used in zari work is “Chikna.” The gold and silver interwoven threads used in zari work are so detailed and ornate. At first glance, it might even look like an applique or enamel, setting them apart from other types of embroidery.
How Do You Care for Clothing With Zari Work?
You love your zari work, so caring for it is of the utmost importance. Wrap your garments with zari work in a soft cotton or muslin cloth after the party ends. They may also be dry cleaned from time to time.
While delicate, zari work is also strong. The threads used in zari work are shrink resistant, which prevents the intricate designs from losing their shape and shine.
How Is Zari Work Incorporated Into Clothing?
First, the design is traced onto paper and then perforated with a needle all over the cloth. Then, a complex combination of stitches, pulling, and weaving forms enchanting designs that complement each silhouette they adorn.
Each piece is hand embroidered with deep care and precision. The immense options you have and the beauty of this technique may make it difficult to choose one for a special day.
Read on for tips on choosing a beautiful and traditional outfit for any occasion:
1. Know Your Event
It is essential to choose your apparel based on the specific event you or your family member are attending. Indian culture doesn’t fit in just one box; it is multi-faceted, and traditions can change from region to region.
Traditionally, Indian weddings are exciting events involving lavish clothing, delicious food, and treasured ceremonies. They are a wonderful time to don your favorite zari work styles.
Ancient beliefs and rituals inspire some of the patterns used in zari work. Guests are encouraged to dress to the nines; it’s hard to outshine an Indian bride! When choosing outfits to wear to weddings, zari work on lehenga cholis and salwar suits are stylish, traditional, and sure to impress.
The red bridal Lengha is a favored choice of Indian brides. Red is said to symbolize Durga, the Hindu goddess of feminine power and new starts. If you are a guest at an Indian wedding, it’s best to keep your red celebration attire in your closet out of respect for the bride.
Known as the festival of lights, Diwali is a time for celebration and joy. It’s the perfect time to rock a glittering embroidered outfit. As one of the most celebrated festivals around the globe, celebrating the victory of good over evil, zari work will easily elevate any piece.
Diwali is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with loved ones, raise a glass of jaljeera, and dress like a Bollywood star. With a holiday this treasured, you have a wide range of outfits that can fit the occasion.
2. Decide on a Fabric Color
The next step in the process is choosing a color for your event. Because zari threads are gold and silver, the right fabric color and texture can make a big difference. Zari work looks especially incredible on deep jewel tones or light, bright colors. You don’t want the zari work to fade into the background — it’s not a wallflower; it’s the centerpiece.
Keep in mind that certain festivals and cultural events are associated with specific colors. For instance, Oman, a festival celebrated in Kerala between August and September, sees guests in white and gold.
Red isn’t just for Indian weddings. Red clothing is also a part of Karva Chauth, a festival where married women pray for their husband's health.
3. Choose Your Favorite Silhouette
Choosing a silhouette is perhaps the most fun step. Whichever design you choose, the silver and gold threads of zari offer an unparalleled touch of glamor.
The Salwar Kameez consists of pants or a full skirt with a tunic or scarf to match. These styles are thoughtfully decorated, a perfect canvas for the intricate designs and patterns of zari work. Salwar Kameez with zari work are not for everyday wear. Instead, they are ideals for special occasions where the wearer can show off detailed, lustrous designs.
The layered pieces that make up a delicately embroidered zari work Salwar Kameez can highlight the soft and elegant feminine features of a woman. At Lashkaraa, our Salwar Kameez, like everything we make, are made in India and inspected by hand to ensure the finest quality.
Zari work gives garments an air of royalty. Talented artisans can work for hours on a single lehenga, using curved hooks, needles, and beads. The Lehenga Choli is as unique as the woman who wears them.
Despite their wide range of styling options, they generally consist of three pieces: A lehenga blouse, a floor-length skirt, and a choli.
Typically, the choli is embroidered using the Kamdani zari work method of fine needlework on delicate pieces like scarves and caps.
Zari work Sarees can be worn for weddings or parties and are stunning wardrobe essentials perfect for a special occasion. At Lashkaraa, our Sarees are pre-draped and ornately decorated with hand-embroidered Zari.
Sarees are timeless and are a staple of Indian women’s fashion. They consist of an incredible six yards of fabric. Watch the beautiful folds ripple as you walk, the zari thread casting an eye-catching glow that’s impossible to ignore.
Another beloved silhouette, the Net Anarkali dress, is a beautiful and dramatic piece that is the perfect canvas for zari work. Zari work patterns on Net Anarkali can range from beautiful floral patterns to smaller designs using stones and beads.
The combined powers of zari work and sequins on our Dusty Purple Net Anarkali create a soothing presence as fresh as a bouquet of lilac.
For a look as bold as you are, the Navy and Gold Embroidered Net Anarkali allows the zari work to be the star of the show.
4. Match Zari Work to Your Favorite Jewelry
Now that you’ve chosen the color, silhouette, and event you’ll wear, all left is selecting jewelry to compliment your look. Zari work complements all body types and can adorn any silhouette, so your jewelry should reflect the intricate and glittering designs.
Basic fashion rules recommend matching metal to metal: gold with gold and silver with silver. However, mixing metals is more popular than ever, offering new opportunities to intentionally highlight your favorite aspects of your look.
Whether you're choosing a zari work garment for yourself or someone else, you have countless options and styles perfect for the modern woman.
Zari work is the epitome of tradition, style, and celebratory fashion. Whether you’ve chosen a deep red Salwar Kameez or a bright white Lehenga Choli adorned with golden zari work, you will look impressive and graceful.