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How to wear a saree - A Step by step guide

  • Editorial Team

Whether it is the much coveted saree of Draupadi from the epic Mahabharata or Priyanka Chopra’s elegant costume from her brother-in-law’s marriage in Paris - saree has been winning hearts since ages. Sensuous, flirty, traditional, chic - you can wear it any way you like. It is hard to find one single costume that can be so versatile. This exquisite piece of nine yards must be worn right and that is no easy task! However once you have mastered the technique you can flaunt your saree-draping skills to your friends and that would be so cool!

The trip of the immortal saree

The saree has evolved from a three-piece costume consisting of unstitched strips of cloth for wrapping the lower part of the body, a band to cover the chest and a piece to wear over the shoulder or head. This ancestor of saree has been mentioned in the Vedas (religious texts of ancient India). Information from Indus Valley Civilization(3300-1300BC) also shows its utilization in that period. This long piece of cloth which is more than 5000 years old is undoubtedly one of the ancient forms of the garment on earth.

In spite of all the changes that have taken place in India and the world over the last 6000 years one thing that has stood the test of time is the unparalleled saree. This attire’s omnipresence at fashion shows, on streets, in Bollywood, in villages and cities, on fashionable and trendy college students and their orthodox grandmoms tells us about its immense liking by women of all genres.

The perfect way to wear a saree

Apart from being traditional wear, saree is also India’s national dress for women. This 6-9 yards length of cloth elegantly compliments a woman’s figure. This graceful garment is the most feminine attire ever. Though women love this ensemble, some get frightened when it comes to draping it around the body. With its innumerable pleats and folds, saree is a mystery to anyone who has never adorned one. Did you ever take help from your mom, aunt, sister or friend while wearing a saree? Of course yes, you did. How many times have you googled how to wear a saree? Draping a saree might seem complicated but trust me patience and practice will help you wrap it perfectly. Here are some basic saree drape steps that will enhance your skills on wearing a saree and look gorgeous in it.

A step by step guide to wear a saree

  • Step 1- Before you start wearing a saree arrange all the materials, for instance, saree blouse, petticoat, safety-pins, your heels and obviously the saree - to look stunning in this sensuous attire.
  • Step 2- Now wear the blouse and petticoat. Ensure the blouse fits perfectly and ends just beneath the bust line. Try the trendiest blouse designs at Hatkay. The colour of the petticoat should match the colour of your saree. It is essential to tie the strings of the petticoat firmly as you need to tuck one end of your saree as well as the saree pleats into it. It can be quite scary if  the strings are loose, for, it might disorganize the pleats and you might face an awkward situation adjusting it. Wear comfortable heel shoes before you start draping the lengthy fabric because this will bring the ideal length draped around the body and restrain you from stumbling on top of your own pleats. Avoid sandals and boots if possible.  
  • Step 3Unfold the saree and figure out the fall on the saree. Now take the plain or non-pallu end, adjust the height above the ground up to your belly button and tuck in the extreme end into the petticoat just below the navel. Drape the saree from the left side around the waist gradually inserting the uppermost edges and complete one whole round from behind until you reach the starting point. Carry on with the same height while wrapping the 9 yards around your waist. Ensure the embroideries are facing out. The lower end of the fabric should be just above the floor exposing only your toes, not your ankles.
  • Step 4- With the remaining cloth make 5 - 8 pleats, approximately about the size of the finger stretch from the index to the thumb. You can make the pleats by winding the fabric from your thumb to your index finger. Hold the pleats up and alter them to ensure they are straight and even. Stow the pleats neatly into the petticoat, on the right side of your belly button with the pleats facing the left side. Pin the pleats together to keep them in place when you move about.
  • Step 5 - Swaddle the rest of the saree around the waist from left to right until it reaches the front. Now grab the decorative end of the 9 yards and make vertical pleats along with the breadth of the garment. If there is a border it should act as the first pleat. Rearrange the pleats slightly till they are uniform. Elevate the pleats, guide it under your right arm and drape it over your left shoulder. Rectify the size of your pallu making sure it reaches the back of your knee. Attach a safety-pin to the pallu from the inside of the blouse on your left shoulder to make sure it doesn’t slip off. Instead of pleating, you can leave the pallu open if you want. 

Cheers! You have successfully draped a saree. With some appropriate accessories, for example, a small bindi on your forehead and some bangles on your hand, you are ready to shine wherever you go. You can opt for some embroidered sarees when you are draping the most ancient ensemble for the first time.   

Now that you know how to wear a saree let us take a look at the various styles of draping a saree.

    1. Marathi style- The upper portion is draped like a regular saree and is worn like a dhoti around the legs.
    2. Bengali style - Tuck the saree end from the right side of the waist until it completes one full round. Then tuck the saree across from right side to the left side of the waist and after that reverse it. Make the pallu pleats and place it on the left shoulder. Bring the pallu corner to the front under the right hand and place it on your right shoulder.
    3. Gujrati style - Follow the basic steps till pleating the pallu, bring the pallu from back to front. Make box pleats drape it over the bust and tuck them at the waist.
    4. Coorgi style - This saree has pleats at the back. The free end is brought below the left shoulder and secured over the right shoulder by tying a knot.

Wearing a saree isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you are a novice. The above-mentioned guide on how to wear a saree will definitely help you to carry it off gracefully. The best way to pull any attire is to feel good in it and feel comfortable wearing it. Follow all the technicalities and instructions of draping the 9 yards. Make sure your blouse and petticoat are comfortable and of proper fit. Put on the right kind of inners and pin them if needed. Drape your saree elegantly; use safety-pins at all the right and required places. And finally, look at your reflection in the mirror and be proud of yourself. You did it!