Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to wear a saree

Ms Thilaga of Madras Store, Masjid India is no stranger to her customers. Year in , year out, over the past 30 years, she has served countless numbers of ladies, including me - advising on the types of sarees to buy to suit the occasions.

Her knowledge of sarees is in-depth. Just touching the fabric and looking at the patterns, she's able to say if it is a Kanchipuram saree (pure silk from Chennai) or a Benares (from Delhi). Moreover, with her keen eyes, she offers advice on what suits the wearer.

Benares silk saree materials

I was interested just in wedding saree materials since I'd be attending one soon. The most auspicious colours for weddings are red and yellow. I asked Ms. Thilaga the prices and they nearly knocked me down flat!! 'That one in the corner is RM 4,000.00.' I took a closer look - the beadwork and the intricate stitching of the gold threads made the saree look like one in a million! Really exquisite!

A richly embroidered paisley motif

'Sarees are easy to look after,' she says. 'Just air them once in a way.There's no need to store them in a camphor chest as in old wives' tales. Only dry clean them , should one feel one has to. Choose reputable dry cleaners, though,' she cautions.

I requested to see a ready-to-wear saree. She picked a polyester saree and and in a jiffy, she was draped in a saree. Honestly, where's the fuss in wearing/tying a saree? The pleats are there at the front and with the velcro at the waist and a quick wrap around and a flip of the remaining saree over the shoulder, you're done!! As for the blouse (choli), it can be sewn within a day. So, if you're ready to step out in a saree, do not despair. There's a quick fix to look elegant.

You can step out in style in a ready-to-wear saree!

The length of a saree is 5 metres (6 yards). The saree comes in a variety of fabrics - handwoven, machine-made. One very traditional saree design is the paisley motif which is timeless and popular.

How to wear/tie a saree :

1. To start, wear the choli which is the tight - fitting saree blouse . Next, wear the long petticoat (pavadai) which is tied tightly at the waist by a drawstring.

2. Take the plain end of the saree and tuck it into the petticoat for one complete turn from right to left. This holds the saree in place. Make sure the lower end of the saree touches the floor and the petticoat does not show.

3. Beginning from the tucked -in end start making pleats in the saree - about 5 inches width. Hold the pleats together so that they fall straight and even.

4. Tuck the pleats into the waist slightly to the left of the navel, making sure the pleats are turned towards the left. The amount you tuck in depends on how tall/short you are or how long you want the saree to fall.

5. Drape the remaining portion of the saree across the torso and over the shoulder. The wearer now has the most decorative part of the saree, the pallu, to show off the beauty of the saree. It is held in place on the shoulder and secured to the blouse by a small safety pin (hidden). Finally when the saree is draped, the look should be neat and nicely fitted to the body.

A novice needs a few trial runs to achieve a neat look in tying a saree. But to the regular wearer, it is easy handling all 5 metres of material.

Ready to step out in a saree? Till the next post, do follow me to a Hindu wedding. That's where I'll be wearing this green silk saree of mine. And there'll be other ladies all dressed to the hilt in their lovely sarees too, especially the bride.


  1. Cool! I always wondered if I wore one...if it will all fall on my feet, and green is such a stunning colour. I am looking forward to that Hindu wedding, I so want to attend one...

  2. I've never worn a saree but I did wear a Punjabi suit at a friend's wedding.

  3. Ah-ha! That's you in the green saree! How lovely and elegant, Keats! Makes me want to rush out and buy one too.

  4. Nice and in detail on wearing sari. Btw how do they normally wash them? No machine wash? Need dry cleaning or by hand wash only?. haha

  5. wow, I love sarees! Not on me but others!
    Can't wait your wedding post.
    Have a great day!

  6. What a wonderful post! I couldn't have explained better. :)

  7. hallo, an indian friend of mine asked me about my size as he is buying me saree, how should I answer him? thank you

  8. HI
    M.Kate, ha! ha! do not worry. it didn't fall off me even on my weding day!! And that was the first time I got into a saree:)) in fact, it feels comfortable even with those 5 metres. thanks for making a date with me for the wedding ceremony:)))

    Veronica Lee, a punjabi suit/salwar khameez is also pretty and comfortable to wear. Do try a saree and you'll look elegant in it.

    ~Covert_Operations'78~, aha! i'm glad you recognised me ! i love the green colour. every time I step out in a saree ( not often), I get many lovely compliments. so, try lah!! surprise yourself!

    Bananaz, for some materials, you can hand wash e.g. polyester and cotton. dry clean the silk ones. before you buy, do ask the shop assistant and they'll advise well. the petticoat is mostly in cotton so it's comfortable to wear. choose the colour that matches your saree.

    BLOGitse, thanks! being in Malaysia, the ladies are comfortable in wearing other ethnic groups' clothings - saree, salwar khameez, cheong sam and baju kurung. i've worn them all:))

    Indrani, thanks so much:)))

    Manji, do not worry. one size fits all!! the saree is just 5 metres of cloth. what you would need to do is get the blouse sewn by an Indian tailoress. the material for it is part of the saree too. . do not forget to tell him your favourite colour/s. should you have problems, do email me.

  9. Thanks for sharing to good info.

  10. I love sarees. I recently got the opportunity of wearing one for my cousin's wedding. I really enjoyed it.

  11. I love your blog. It is so interesting. You do really explain it well.

  12. How I wish I have a saree. The designs are so intricate and beautiful.

  13. Hi
    Sonia,thanks for popping in.

    morinn, i'm sure you enjoyed the wedding ceremony and looked gorgeous in the saree.really whoever slips into a saree looks great - that's the beauty of wearing it:))

    Lucy, thanks so much! glad you enjoy the posts:))

    Autumn Belle,do ask the shop assistant for help in choosing a saree . Anyone can look gorgeous in it. So, do not be afraid to try. If you would like some help, do give contact me.

  14. Keats, I got my own saree today!!!! I wanted you to be the first person to know!!!! :D :D :D

  15. YIPEEEE! great news! Now, when are you going to wear it and show the new look? What colour/s and where are you getting the sari blouse sewn? Do send me a pic of yourself in it or we could both make a date and wear sari to some place!! Howzat??

  16. Sounds awesome! I got a purple and gold one. I had a gold choli made so that the contrast would look good. Bold colours look better on me cos I am relatively fair! Collecting the blouse next week and then I am ready to attend dinners, functions and weddings! So excited! I feel so regal in my purple saree!

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