Monday, September 24, 2007

Wearing the Sari

I have a problem with my pink sari. Actually, two problems. Length and width. ^__^

I know how to drape it; that is, I know the mechanics of draping it. Tuck-tuck-tuck-tuck all the way around, pleat, fold the pleats into the waistband, wrap the length around the body without tucking and throw the pallu over the shoulder. (If we’re doing it Gujarati-style, the pallu hangs in front.)

And when I drape my pretty pink sari, it looks like it should… from the front. I looked in the mirror and thought “wow, I did it!” Then I glanced behind me and noticed that the pallu was trailing onto the floor. That is to say, the length of the part “tossed over my shoulder” was longer than I was tall, and dragged behind me by nearly eighteen inches.

So I did it again. This time I tried to use up that length by making many more pleats. This was partially successful; but to really bring the pallu to where it should be (the decorative part begins at my shoulder, yes?) I would need to make enough pleats to cover several feet of fabric.

Which brings me, of course, to the second problem: that all the folded and tucked material is extremely bulky around my waist. To get it to the right height, I have to tuck a good deal of it into the ghagra, and it makes everything look all puffy. Which, combined with the lingering effects of “rice belly,” is not exactly attractive.

Perhaps I should wear the sari only in situations where I will be viewed exclusively from the front. From this view, I look like a glamorous Bollywood heroine. But from the side and the back, I look disastrous.

Or I could just learn how to wear it properly. ^__^

Editor’s Note: You’re probably wondering why there are no pictures. She made a veiled reference to an “important item” she bought a few days ago; it had to do with getting her camera fixed and in working condition. Unfortunately, the camera is still (like the lead character in a Karan Johar film) incomplete. Thus… no pictures, for now.


Anonymous said...


Did the sari come with an "attached blouse" - i.e. was a portion of the sari a blouse-piece or did you buy a separate blouse piece?

One way to tell if the sari is too long for you - measure it - saris can be anywhere from 5.5 - 6 yards long. An approximate measurement will do. If the sari is 6 yards long, you can cut off half a yard. (get the edges trimmed again).

Secondly, some tricks to making it look less bulky - wear the petticoat low on your waist - below belly-button is good. This will mean tucking in more of the sari, but you say the sari is chiffon - which means less bulk - and by making the pleats wide and flat (make them 6 inches wide-use a ruler or flatedge, if your fingerspan is not that long) you can make the portion that you tuck into your waist look less bulky.

Also, do the pallu before you pleat - pin up however much you want draped over the shoulder (and current fashionable length is for the pallu to just touch your ankles, when draped singly over your shoulder, so decorative part will begin a little lower than shoulder) then take in the slack at your waist and start pleating. Then, before you tuck, on the RHS, let go of the first two pleats (this will create a slack on the right), tuck in the rest and smooth your waist flat. Then insert your left hand under the pleats (outside the petticoat) - and locate the slack created when you dropped the first two pleats - take that slack under the pleats and tuck in on the left side. This will give you a smooth silhouette on the right side of your body. There may be some cloth left untucked on the left - make pleats facing the opposite way using that material and tuck it in on the left - this is covered by the pallu, so it doesn't matter if you don't get neat pleats - you can also distribute some of the excess material from the front to this left side.

Other suggestions:
- if you wear the pallu the formal, pleated and pinned way (like airline stewardesses, for example), it will use up more of the sari, and you can look less bulky in the middle.
- Get a petticoat that is less gathered. Most sari petticoats have "umbrella cuts" - but some have fewer panels than others. Look for ones that have the bare minimum of panels - 4 I think. You can also get petticoats that are cut like evening gowns - fitted over the waist and flaring around the knee. I wear these kind of petticoats with chiffons as they provide a better line.
- Wear heels - and wear them before you start tucking the sari in, to allow for proper height adjustments all around.
- If you are sure about the height you need the sari to be, you can get the surplus cut off the upper edge. If the upper edge of the sari has a border, the tailor will be able to cut it off until the point that it becomes visible after pleating - and your tuck-in allowance can be reduced that way.



Blue said...

Thanks, Bitterlemons.

Wearing the petticoat low on the waist helps a lot.

Also, for whatever reason, does turning in circles as I wrap and pleat the sari, instead of trying to wrap the sari around me. ^__^

At any rate it looks right now. And I can get the end of the pallu to brush my ankles.

Pictures to come soon.