Friday, September 26, 2014

Sari Simplified for the Western Woman (6 FAQs, Tips & Tutorials to get you started on your sari journey)

Over the past few weeks, I wrote a bunch of posts on the sari – 6 myths, quirky sari styling tips and whimsical sari blouses that stirred up a lot of interest globally and got women across the country rummaging through their stash of saris. My basic premise for writing the #SariInStyle series is to inspire women to wear saris more often, do casual in it (in urban India, a sari has become the go-to ‘function’ costume and no more), and let their sari collection see a bit more of the sun.

Interestingly, I’ve got a lot of queries from women in the USA, Europe and Australia about wearing saris. The how-tos, the rules, the do’s and don’ts. So, this week’s #SariInStyle is about that – things that non-Asian women/ Western women, may want to keep in mind when they wear a sari.

So ladies, here are a few FAQs on wearing #saris as a Western woman.

I’m a white woman and was wondering if it’s okay to wear a sari?

Absolutely. In spite of the assortment of views that pop up after a search on Google about “western woman in a sari”, I say, wear a #sari if you want to. Sari is not just an #IndianAttire but also a #style statement. So, if you want to express your own style or experiment or just wear one out of curiosity, then go ahead.

Will I offend Indians by wearing a sari?

I don’t think so, as long as you wear it correctly. In fact, my Indian friends and I are always pleasantly surprised to see non-Indian women in saris.

How can I learn to wear a sari?

The internet is the best bet if you don’t already have an Indian friend who can teach you to wear a sari. There are several helpful tutorials out there that can teach you how to drape a sari in a matter of minutes. Of course, you’ll have to practice wearing a sari several times before you get the hang of it (it took me many months to perfect the art of draping a sari!). Here’s a tutorial that may help you learn the ins and outs of #wearingasari and here’s a blog post with lots of tips on getting the sari right.

Pic via Alastair Grant/PA 

What kinds of saris are okay for Western women to wear?

Personally, I’d recommend hand-woven saris in silk or cotton because these are works of art in themselves. Also, the kind of grace and gorgeousness they add to your style is oh-so-amazing. But if you want to try something else, then my personal go-to would be the luscious saris from Garden Vareli (these are very affordable too) and Satya Paul (these are high-end saris). These are light and very easy to drape and care for.

I’ve noticed a lot of women from across the world opt for blingy saris that are a fad in India these days. But I wouldn’t reach for those myself (maybe because I don't like bling, but also because they look so common in spite of all that glitter). I’d also encourage you to pay attention to the color of your sari because this can make or break the look you’re aiming to create. If you're a white woman out on a sari shopping trip, stay away from garish orange, too-bright reds and hot pinks, and even boring browns. If you're a woman of color, look for jewel tones and rich Indian hues. 

What should I wear as a blouse?

Instead of wearing a matching blouse, I’d recommend that you wear something different. Either go for a tailored blouse in a contrasting color or buy a pre-stitched embroidered blouse. You could also adapt your tops and tees to go with your sari. Here’s a post I wrote about different kinds of sari blouses.

Pic via vis-a-vis

Are there any rules that I must keep in mind while wearing a sari?

a. Well, wear it correctly for one. The sari can take some getting used to, what with 6 yards of fabric to drape, tuck, pleat, pin and carry off with panache. So, if you’re planning to wear a sari for a party or an outing for the first time, I suggest learning how to do this via online tutorials, and practicing it a few times (okay, more than a few times!) at home before you wear it for the event. It would be great if you could recruit a friend to help you. Otherwise, practice, practice, practice till you get it right.

b. You wouldn't want the 'pallu' of your sari to scrunch up at your chest or slide of (you can use a safety pin to pin-up the pallu).

c. You wouldn’t want to hitch up a sari in public, even if it’s hot and humid outside.

d. You wouldn’t want your sari to come apart when you’re at that party, café, or meeting. So, even if you have to use a couple of more safety pins, tuck and pleat the sari well and make sure that there aren’t any loose ends to trip over.

e. Wear it with style, with pride, with joy (this one is for us urban Indians too!).

Pic via PKP

How do I style my sari?

Tap into your own styling instinct. But, if you want some simple tips to put together your sari look, here’s my post packed with 7 practical tips.

Hope these tips help you get started with the sari.

For an extra helping of sari inspiration, here are a few blogs by Western women who wear the sari in style. Check these blogs out at my Facebook page.

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

#saree #sari #SariInStyle #IndianStyle


  1. Lovely! Great post :)

  2. Thanks Alexandra! :-) I love your blog!

  3. Nice post with images. Saree is a piece of style available in vivid pattern worn parties and special occasion.
    Saree online shopping in India


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