Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Ways to Style a Sari

So, we’ve been talking about looking stylish in a sari. About doing casual in a sari. About turning the sari into the little black dress of your wardrobe. All the things that seem impossible with 6 yards of hand woven fabric, especially when cute cocktail dresses and jumpsuits seem to be the new chic.

Like I said in my previous post, wearing the sari with panache is often about creating a look around it rather than slipping into a sari and matching blouse without giving too much of thought to how you want to look when you’re done with the draping and ready to walk out of that door.

So, I thought I’d share some of my tips. Things that I’ve been doing to create a look around the saris I wear. And I wear a lot of them. I own a 100 saris and enjoy taking the ‘boring’ out of the concept of wearing these beauties.

So, here we go. Mix and match these tips, personalize them or add to them. Use them when you slip into a crisp cotton for an office meeting or a Garden chiffon for an evening at the art museum; when you wear silks – the brocade or the raw kinds; when you wear a sari for a cocktail evening or dinner in town.

1. Choose your sari carefully. Right when you’re buying one. You don’t want to be stuck with a sari that you like visually or that’s the latest in style, but finally when you bring it home, it’s not something you want to wear. So, when you’re out at a store, see if you can visualize yourself in it, the look you want to create around it, the occasions you want to wear it to. Check if you enjoy the feel of the fabric, the drape and the print. After all, a sari is like a story. You’d rather read it than just keep it on your bookshelf to admire later (hint hint... wearing a sari is so much better than just letting it live out it’s sari life in a closet).


2. Wear a contrasting blouse. A blouse can make or break a sari. It’s that important. Wear a matching blouse and you risk getting slotted into that boring look that you so want to avoid. But wear a bright, embroidered blouse or one with mirror work or a saucy halter neck, and you’re halfway to creating that smart/chic/sexy look. I have lots of different kinds of blouses in my wardrobe, with appliqué work, mirror work, hand embroidery, borders. With tie-ups at the back, halter necks, Chinese collars. I even adapt my tube tops and shirts to work as blouses.

3. So this brings me to the 3rd tip. Try fusion when it comes to a sari. Team up your tops, short kurtis, tank tops, fitting tees and shirts with saris. The look will be edgy and fun, and you’ll always have plenty of options to try.


4. Choose your jewelry with care. If you want to do just gold – traditionally Indians wear a lot of gold with saris, then you’re walking down the same path of creating that sari + matching blouse + lots of gold jewelry look. The same one you want to break away from. The same one that you may not be able to do casual in. So, try necklaces, bangles and earrings made with silver and beads, wood and fabric, glass and copper. Choose chunky and handmade (just what I like!), organic and smart, and I can safely say that you’ll look dazzling in these lovelies.


5. Accessorize wisely. Bring on the jholas (handmade Indian bags), batuas (handcrafted drawstring bags) and the belts. Tie a turban if you want to (I loved this look here). Drape a shawl or slip into a leather jacket or warm overcoat (for winters). And of course, experiment with your bindis. I prefer a large red round one, but you can choose from an assortment of colors and shapes.

6. Let’s not ignore the footwear. Kolhapuris look amazing with saris, especially those colorful ones that you get on a budget from the local market. I like wearing jootis too with my saris. But if flats is not your thing or you’d prefer a bit of heels with your sari, feel free to slip into a pair of strappy sandals or a saucy pair of stilettos. I’ve worn saris with loafers and ankle-length boots (and a leather jacket) and it just gives a more edgy look to your handloom sari.

7. And now the part where you powder your nose. Well, not really ;-). But when you’re draped in yards of gorgeousness, and decked up in strings of beads and shimmering earrings and a stack of wooden bangles, don’t you want to add a slash of lipstick and a thick rim of kohl around your eyes? Just a bit of lip gloss or lipstick and some kohl or eye makeup can round off your look.

Try these tips and let me know if you were able to rev up your sari.

If you've enjoyed this post, you may also like reading 6 Myths about the Sari.

P.s. Thank you ByLoom for letting me use photographs from your collection!

If you have any specific question on wearing/styling a sari, send those to me via my Facebook page  or drop me a line on Twitter @chandanawriter.

#sari #saree #desistyle #Indianttire #saristyle


  1. this was the best post I've read in a long time, I guess because it's so different from what I normally read! SO INTERESTING. Now, if you could just make saris okay for white girls to wear, I'd be in

    1. Meriah - thank you! Saris are okay for white girls to wear...really. Watch the space for a post on 'saris tips for women in other countries'. then you can sport it with flair.

  2. Lovely read Chandana... The pictures are beautiful. Indeed the saree can be shaped into many avatars provoded you accessorise it well and can carry it off with grace!

  3. Ambika - thank you. boils down to the accessories. Do you love saris?


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