How to Wear a Sari
South Indian Style
Colorful, graceful, and yet simple,
the sari is perhaps one of the most beautiful garments in the world.
They are also very difficult to put on at first.
Below are some basic instructions for how to wear a sari.
As you become more familiar with wearing a sari
you may modify the instructions to your preference.
The best way to learn is to practice daily
with a soft rayon or silk material.
Later you can graduate to stiff cotton and heavy silk.
These are the basic elements of the sari: the
cotton drawstring petticoat, a blouse (or choli), and the sari itself.
The sari will either be 6 or 9 yards long. The 6 yard sari is standard and will be used in these instructions.
The petticoat must be drawstring, and must be worn very tightly as it will loosen under the weight of the sari.
The blouse shown above is made of stretch material.
More traditonal blouses are tailor-made from a piece of the sari itself.
The petticoat should be of a color that compliments the sari,
especially if the sari is of a thinner material.
A special note: The blouse
and petticoat are modern inventions brought into use during the British
Tradionally the sari was worn without a blouse and was at a more practical length for working.
The petticoat was simply a length of string or fabric tied around the waist.
Only in modern society are the breasts seen as erotic.
In most cultures they are simply a means to nourish a baby.
Open the sari and find the pallu, the end of
that contains the decorative work.
Some everyday saris do not have a pallu.
In that case you would look for the fall sewn into the bottom hem
to save the fabric from wear and tear. This is usually sewn
by the owner of the sari, so if there is no fall or pallu,
you can just choose an end and start from there.
Note: It is considered
very immodest in Indian society
for a woman to show the front of the blouse
and petticoat, so in these photos I have draped a white
piece of fabric over myself.
At all costs do not allow the front of the blouse to show in public!
Find the end opposite the pallu, where the fall
is on the bottom hem
and tuck the top corner into the petticoat.
This can be tucked in either over the right hip, or in front of the bellybutton.
If you end up with too little material to pleat in front during Step 10 below,
start over and tuck it over the belly button.
Make sure that the bottom of the sari just touches the floor.
Dress saris should never show the feet,
while everyday saris for working can be brought up to anklebone level.
Bring the sari all the way around the body, and tuck
the top edge in at the bellybutton.
Make sure that the bottom hem is the right length from the floor.
Then tuck it in all the way around the top.
Don't worry if it appears to be bunchy after being tucked.
This part will not show once the sari is put on.