Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Wear a Sari - North Indian Style

The sari is traditional Indian wear - six yards of fabric draped around a woman in a particular way - which has always fascinated people globally.

People all over the world wonder how Indian women can wear a sari and actually walk and work in one. Six yards (5-5.5 meters) of fabric, which is not stitched, but wrapped around a woman, so that it actually looks graceful and elegant is no mean feat. Except that most Indian women are used to wearing saris and it becomes second nature to them to wear one.

Saree Sari

Types of saris

All regions of India have particular designs, weaves, colors and fabrics of which saris are made. Many are indigenous to those areas. Saris may be made of fabrics as diverse as:

• Silks - light or heavy
• Chiffons
• Georgette
• Organdy
• Cotton
• Voile
• Mulmul
• Crepe
• Synthetics and poly blends

Traditional sari designs

Traditionally saris usually have a pallu (also called pallav) on one end, which is usually fairly ornate and may be of a contrasting color. The sari also may have a border and some all over design, which may be elaborate and complicated, or simple or even plain.

However, at times the sari has an all over design with no demarcation of pallu and borders. These, saris, too, may be printed or woven. A fall is handstitched to the back of the sari border, so that the sari is protected and also falls better.

What else you need apart from the sari

The north Indian style sari requires two accoutrements - one is the petticoat and the other is the sari blouse. Petticoats are generally available in myriad colors and should ideally match the color of the sari. They may be made of cotton, silk, satin, or synthetic fabrics.

A fitted petticoat is made up of panels to give a slim silhouette. Usually it is tied with a drawstring of matching fabric, so it don't have to be exactly fitting - you simply adjust the drawstring as tight as you want it to be. The petticoat should be tied below the navel, higher or lower, depending on your comfort level.

While the petticoat is traditional, some designers have experimented with churidars (similar to stretch pants) instead of petticoats

The sari blouse is usually a little bigger than the brassiere. Sometimes a sari blouse may be as long as the petticoat. It can be simple or ornate, in many designs, and usually has to be individually tailored for a perfect fit. However, occasionally lycra mixed free sized sari blouses of varying lengths may be used instead. You can have a blouse, which conceals or a blouse, which may be like a very fancy bra.

Putting on the petticoat and blouse

You don't need anyone's help to tie a sari, though if you are doing it for the first time, you might find it a bit intimidating. If somebody knows how to wear a sari, you can take that person's help.

Put on the petticoat and tie it at a length you are comfortable with. Remember the bottom should not be visible below the sari - it should be slightly shorter. If you are going to wear heels with the sari, put them on before draping the sari, so you can adjust the length of the petticoat.

Wearing a good fitting bra, put on the blouse and fasten it properly, whether the fasteners are at the front or back. Now you are ready to drape the sari.

Draping a sari, north Indian style

1. Place the sari right side up and take the end of it with the border side down.

2. Put it across your petticoat, with the end towards the right leg. Tuck the top into the petticoat somewhere near or a little before your right pelvic bone. It should be almost touching the floor, and covering your heels if you are wearing any.

3. Take it around your left side and tuck it inside. If you want some freedom of movement or if your hips are wide, you can put a small pleat in the middle of the back, before tucking it in, very neatly and smoothly. Take the rest of the sari under the right arm and diagonally over the left shoulder.

4. Leave the pallu end as long as you want it to be. It can be mid-back, till your hips or even longer. This depends on your personal preference and also the pallu.

5. The remaining material, which is hanging around your waist, should be neatly pleated into same size pleats and tucked in around the waist. Usually as the hand is used to make the pleats, each pleat is the size of the hand from thumb to pinky, when opened fully.

6. The pleats should be around five inches each and opening toward the left. The remaining material, if any, should be added to the pallu, or you can make even a half pleat with it. Then you adjust the pallu.

7. The other way to do is to make the pleats first and then take the rest of the material around your hips from left, then back, then right and across your left shoulder. (Either way is fine - again it is a matter of personal preference.)

8. In this case, what happens if there are too few pleats and the pallu is too long, you will have to redo the pleats again. If the pallu is too short and you want it longer, you simply gently pull the remaining sari out.

9. Some people like to leave the sari loose on their left shoulder. Others may prefer to take it around the right shoulder and leave it like a covering. Sometimes the sari may be neatly pleated at the pallu and then pinned to the blouse. Or you can use a sari clip.

10. Occasionally, the pallu may be taken around the right side of the waist and held in the left hand. Working women or homemakers may even tuck the end into the petticoat so that they are not bothered by the open pallu. Avoid pinning chiffon or delicate saris as they can tear, use sari clips instead.

How to Wear a Sari - North Indian Style

Smiti Munwani has been writing for a very long time. She is a journalist, book author, content writer and dietitian. She has had two books published, The Snack-Time Cookbook and Count Your Calories to Slim and Stay Slim. She also has two books ready to be published, one on party menus and another on cooking for a healthy heart. She can be contacted via email: if anybody is interested in re-publishing the books (she has the copyright) or requires any articles. She has also owned and run a pizza parlour and a catering business. She has written extensively for the print media and done web content writing.


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