Photo: SasinTipchai/Shutterstock

How to Rock a Sari

India Art + Architecture
by Divya Srinivasan Jan 27, 2009
One of the most beautiful expressions of India is how her women wear the sari.

THE SARI IS A piece of unstitched cloth that is draped over the body in various styles. But in India, the sari is so much more: a reflection of culture and an expression of heritage and pride.

People all over the world fawn over the style, simplicity, and elegance of saris. They love the different colors, the fabrics, sequins, and designs. The fascination of this garment and its endless subtle beauty ensure the sari will never go out of fashion.

In India, the sari is worn everyday, as appropriate for chores in the house and field as it is for special occasions or celebrations. It’s worn while cooking, cleaning, and even sleeping. It is not a garment meant to cover or conceal, but one that defines the beautiful, curvaceous bodies of women.

More women outside India are trying on saris for style. If you’re one of them, here are some tips for rocking a sari:

1. Find the perfect match.

If you are short, you should wear a sari with a border (design at bottom), which creates the illusion of height. In India, women say the border makes you look “vertical to the earth.”

If you are tall, you can wear a broad bordered sari as this makes you look “parallel to the earth.”

Dark skinned women should wear light colors as this enhances their skin tone, whereas fair skinned should wear dark colors to make a beautiful contrast.

2. Find the right blouse.

The blouse is important, as it accentuates the entire look. Ensure your blouse is well-fitted and comfortable; else you’ll be fidgeting with it. Plus, if your blouse slips and your bra strap peeks, you’ll get some nasty looks if you’re trying to rock the sari in India.

3. Understand the skirt.

Below the sari lies the skirt. It might seem completely irrelevant, but it’s one of the most important parts of rocking the sari. Remember: the whole sari sits on the skirt. It shouldn’t flare too much because this will cause the entire sari to flare.

The goal is for your sari to produce a slimming look. The skirt should be the same or similar shade as the whole sari. It shouldn’t be too long nor should it be too short. Ankle length is perfect.

4. Check yourself.

Once you have draped the sari, ensure that it is tight enough so as not to crumple awkwardly, but loose enough that you can move around comfortably. Ensure the pleats are tight and crisp. Be 100% sure that your sari and skirt are above your toes.

If you trip and fall on the fabric, not only will it be embarrassing, but there’s also a chance your whole sari might come off!

5. Accessorize!

When choosing jewelery to go with the sari, go for funky or ethnic. There’s a lot of stuff to work with out there, so go crazy!

6. Choose good shoes.

The shoes you choose should have some heel and ideally should be open-toed so you can show your pedicure off! Comfortable, strappy sandals are ideal.

7. Mind your etiquette.

If you are wearing the sari to an office or an official event, it’s best to pin the pallu ( the flowing piece of material) up on your shoulder, as this makes it easier to write, type, or shake hands. For weddings and celebrations, you can drape the pallu down the entire length of your hand. Floating gracefully through the evening, you can forget about running around and hustle or bustle.

8.Bring backup.

If you are nervous about sari slippage, put pins at required places to secure the sari. After rocking the sari a few times, you won’t need backup– you’ll be just like the masses of women in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal, who drape the sari in a matter of minutes.

9. Project confidence.

Be confident in your look, walk, and conduct. “You are the most beautiful woman around, wearing the most beautiful outfit around, with the most beautiful accessories and shoes. Everything about you is just beautiful.” Keep this in mind and you’ll be rocking the sari in no time!


For more on travel and fashion, check out 10 Items Women Should Pack to Stay Fashionable on the Road. Or give this community blog post, about Vietnam’s most famous garment, a read: Ao dai” Vietnam – The Charming Beauty.

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