If costumes from across the world are put to a trial by beauty, we doubt if any other attire could match up to a saree in its grace and elegance. A saree is the six yard description of Indian femininity. Talk of the poise, grace, and charm it awards the lady draping it, or of the wondrous eyes of a little lady dreaming of growing up into a young woman and draping herself in her mother’s best saree, the saree is an incredibly important, must-have item of Indian clothing.
The saree is a female garment, which is perhaps the most recognisable icon of India. It is made of an unstitched fabric that ranges from six to nine yards in span. It is most commonly paired with a blouse and tucked in at the waist on one end, wrapped around, pleated at the center and finished with the other end draped over the shoulder. The draping style varies according to the region, religion, social class and style preference, but in essence, it is an all-time wear garment that can be worn just about anywhere - to work, to a party or even to a wedding! If you have ever worn a saree, you will agree with us that the same saree can carry you from the day to the night, with just a few tweaks in styling - such is the versatility of the saree.
For women looking to exude a look of sensuality at the next party or a create a crisp and smart appeal at work, a saree is the answer to your search. While a starched cotton saree is unbeatable in its aesthetic appeal for work, we would pick an embellished silk saree for a party for its instant disarming effect. Wear one to the next cocktail party, teamed with the choicest of your accessories and you will notice men and women alike gravitating towards you. But to do all this, have you been able to wrap your head around how to wear a saree? If not, then use our saree draping steps below as a guide.
In order to confidently carry a saree like second skin, it is important to know how to wear a saree correctly. A saree is usually paired with a short bodice and an underskirt. The underskirt is fitted thoroughly around the waist by means of a drawstring and it spans till the ankle. The blouse is essentially a fitted bodice that imparts structure to the upper half of your body and ends at your midriff. The patterns and styles of the blouse are subjective, resulting in a wide spectrum of saree-blouse combinations to try.
Once you are through with wearing a blouse and the underskirt is when you are to get around to the actual saree draping steps. Stand with your legs slightly apart. One end of the saree is tucked into the skirt. Drape a full round of the fabric around the skirt with space enough for comfortable movement of legs.
Now bunch up the middle part of the fabric such that there is sufficient length of material to form the central pleats.
Seek out the other end, and drape it over your blouse and shoulder. From the shoulder to the end, it should be least 90 cm in length, its border touching your fingertips when you stand straight. Secure this portion with a safety pin on the shoulder for now and you can get to adding the finishing touch to it in the end.
Now that we are through with about half of the saree draping steps, here is the most difficult part - pleating. The portion of the saree between the two ends is supposed to be pleated and tucked into the waist.
Make about five to six pleats with each of them approximately the span of your palm - we’d say about five inches, give or take. Five-six pleats spanning your thumb to index will give you a comfortable drape while regular, shorter pleats will give you a fuller gathered look. You can choose the latter if you have a very slim waist and would not mind the bulk of pleats tucked into it.
The next task in the saree draping steps is to collect the pleats together in an equal bunch and tuck them facing left, a little to the left of your navel. If required, secure the pleats with a safety pin in such a way that the pin can be hidden by the pallu.
Now comes the last part of the tutorial on how to wear a saree - fixing the the pallav or pallu that you had previously pineed onto your shoulder. The pallu is the part of the saree that drapes in a slant over your bust and midriff, and falls long over your shoulder and behind. Remove the safety pin on your shoulder and adjust the pallu such that the rest of the saree is properly hugging your curves.The draping of the pallu differs through regions in India, and it is interesting to try out the various draping styles of the diverse cultures that the country has - you could choose to simply wear it loosely draped over the shoulder or pleat it up for a prim and proper look or better still, wear it backwards in Gujarati style to show off all the gorgeous prints on it.
For daily wear, we would recommend that you pleat up your pallu and secure with a safety pin and just like that, you don’t just know how to wear a saree but are also ready to enjoy your six yards of elegant allure.
A saree is a fabric that has draped women of every class in India. It has braved the evolution of fashion across so many centuries and continues to remain relevant even today. In fact, lately there has been renewed interest in the saree and it has become the go-to garment for women seeking looks that are royal, and sophisticated. With the evolution of the Indian fashion sensibilities and the influence of various draping styles, the quintessential saree has also undergone a sea of transformations. The saree now presents itself in customised, fashionable avatars like the dhoti drape and the retro drape which are being embraced by the fashion forward youngsters from all over the country.
So whether you are attracted to a traditional saree in the conventional drape, or are thinking about draping it with a twist, go and give it a try. We promise you that you will be hooked to the six yards of beautiful fabric that instill in you a sense of Indianness and confidence that no other outfit can! Time to get draping!
Image credit: wikihow, indianroots