how to drape a perfect Saree – Step By Step Tutorial

There is no garment like a Saree that caresses an Indian Woman’s body more lovingly.

“If you want a garment that accentuates your body positives, forgivingly hides the flaws, and is a perfect mix of demure & allure; then Saree is your answer.”

anachi.yatra

Do you need to wear Saree if you are visiting India? The answer is NO! You don’t HAVE to! But if you can’t help fall in love with the vibrant colors and figure-hugging feature of Sari then you definitely must not feel shy in draping a sari.

In this post Saree Draping Experts give awesome step by step Tutorial, Tips & Tricks to Perfectly Drape a Saree. Also learn how to store Saris, learn about pre-stitched saris, trendy blouse ideas & more! Explore India with it's traditional dress – Saree! #howtodrapesaree #saree

So, How to drape a perfect saree? A Saree is worn over a petticoat or underskirt, and a blouse. In the most popularly draped saree style, called the Nivi style, the body is what forms the base & the pleats, and then the ‘palla’ or ‘aanchal’ is the adorning or finishing touch hanging from the shoulder.

You can pin up the palla into pleats or let it caress your arm and be its flowy self; You can create a figure-hugging illusion, or let it flow loosely for a comfortable wear.

Even the most popular & conventional drape has various options to style it.

Obviously there is more to draping a perfect sari than what has been mentioned above.

In this Guest Post, Vandana and Suruchi, the Sari fanatics from Anachi.Yatra give awesome step by step Tutorial, Tips & Tricks to Perfectly Drape a Saree.

In this post, you will also get to learn how to store Saris, what are pre-stitched saris, trendy blouse ideas & more!

Suruchi & Vandana: Owners of Anachi.Yatra

What is a Sari?

The word Saree comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Sari’ which means a ‘strip of cloth’! It is interesting to note that the history of sari-like drapery can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which flourished during 2800–1800 BC!

The Saree combines traditional style & contemporary verve to be just the perfect garment.

The popularity of the Saree may have its ups or downs, but never is it out of style or out of mind.

Luckily, thanks to various saree loyalists, newly made pacts & saree sisterhood groups, there has never been a more opportune time to drape a saree!

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Khuda Hafiz Bombay! ख़ुदा हाफ़िज़ बॉम्बे! . This series, 'Salaam Bombay' was about three things that inspire me about Bombay and three looks inspired by them – Bombay Deco, Bombay Gothic and Bollywood. This series was my tribute to Mumbai. All the sarees in the series are old, the mul has been worn many times. I wrote this series while packing up my home in Mumbai, amidst maddeningly hectic schedules. Thank you all for bearing with my typos and silly grammatical errors in the posts! It was important for me to do this before taking leave of Bombay to embark on my new journey. All my posts that celebrate the Maximum city and those where the city plays a character are under the tag #desidrapesinbombay. You can click on it to see all of them. . I am leaving a big piece of my heart behind and I know I will return to it someday but at this moment the new opportunities and cities are calling me! I have the world to explore! It's poetic that Desi Drapes crossed 50K before I left Bombay. I hope this will mark the beginning of a new chapter for this page to! Gearing up for Desi Drapes 2.0 in the new year and the new life! . . #50kfollowers #50K #bombaystories #bombaylove #bombayblogger #mumbaiblogger #mumbai #sareeandthecity #conceptualfashion #themebasedfashion #sareegram #sareestylingideas #stylingideas #restylingoldclothes #styleideas #style #bombayinspired

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Different regions of India favor different drapes & styles of Sarees.

Take for example the elegant Gujarati front palla saree, the delicate Assamese two piece Mekhla Chador, the demure Athpourey shari from Bengal, the graceful 9 yard Nauvari from Maharashtra, the list is endless…

What is a ‘Pallu’ or ‘Aanchal’ in a Saree?

The Saree is usually 5 yards long garment of cotton/ silk/ georgette/ wool/ synthetic or a blend of these fabrics; consisting of the main body and the palla (also called the aanchal) and is the (usually) more adorned piece of the garment.

The blouse is usually, but not necessarily attached with the saree.

In case the blouse is not attached to the sari, there’s no need to worry, lots of blouse options are available in the market. (You will find few awesome ideas on how to mix and match blouses with saris a bit further down in the article).

what is worn under a saree?

Structurally, the saree is worn over a petticoat or underskirt, and a blouse. In the most popularly draped saree style, called the Nivi style, the body is what forms the base & the pleats, and then the palla or aanchal is the adorning or finishing touch hanging from the shoulder.

Why is saree fall used?

The fall or extra strip of fabric stitched at the lower end of the saree is called a Fall.

The fall is usually a sturdy cotton or terry-cotton 5 inches broad and 3 meters long strip of fabric. The Fall is sewed to the hem of the Sari from the wrong side. Which means the Fall should not be visible from the outside. (Source).

The Sari Pallu and the final drape leading to Pallu don’t have the fall.

The fall in a saree has two uses;

To provide strength & protection to the saree, and

To make the ‘fall’ or the pleats look more elegant.

Which saree material is easy to wear?

I find a light silk or cotton saree the easiest to drape (pure fabrics always get the best fall and are easiest to wear), so if you’re a beginner, start with those!

  • So get into your matching tightly worn petticoat and blouse,
  • wear the footwear you intend to be wearing with the saree,
  • stand in front of your full-length mirror,
  • make sure you have a clean floor & some space to twirl around in,
  • keep some safety pins handy, and lets go!

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Step by Step tutorial for Wearing a perfect saree

Let’s try the Nivi drape, the most popular, and simplest!

We will also share some tricks of the trade to make it neater & easier to do.

Step 1

Start with the saree on the floor so that you can easily pull or grab the saree! Hold the saree with both hands; the top inner edge of the saree with your right hand; and some more fabric in line further in your left hand. The lower edge with the stitched fall must be facing your feet.

Step 2

Hold around one foot or so the width of the saree steadily in your hand, check the mirror for the correct length – the bottom of the saree should touch the ground, and tuck the top of the saree into your petticoat waistband.

Good job, and well started!

Step 3

Loosely drape the saree around your back, and bring it back to where you started. Now we come to the pleaty part!

Step 4

Hold the saree, between your index finger and the thumb, stretched out, starting about 3-4 inches left of the belly button (or where is tucked in).

Start folding/ pleating from index finger to the thumb and back. Make 5-7 such pleats.

Once done, hold them with both the hands and even it out. Ensure all the pleats start at the same level.

At this point, you can secure the pleats with a safety pin and tuck inside the petticoat/ skirt.

Step 4

Loosely start tucking in the part draped earlier so the first pleat isn’t stretched and the length on the saree in maintained in front & back, while you check all around.

Step 5

Now go back to the remaining length of the saree after the pleats, drape the saree again starting from left going backward and bringing in the front from under the right armpit to the left shoulder.

Step 6

The palla will be basically cross your waist from the right side, to your left shoulder in a comfortable, but firm way.

The palla maybe pinned just behind your left shoulder (take extra care if the saree is delicate, or has embroidery or ‘work’; pin is a bit up of down accordingly.

Make sure that the saree is stretched in a manner to enhance the curves starting after the pleats and until the palla is tucked in.

The other option could be pleating the palla width-wise to give a more formal and neat look. The full open palla makes the design more visible and gives the saree an ornamental appeal.

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Awesome Tips for Perfect Saree Draping:

  • Using a full length or 3/4th length mirror while you wear a saree always helps, and reduces the chance of the length of the saree going wrong, in the front or the back.
  • The petticoat can be above or below your navel, however, you feel comfortable. Do note, that keeping the petticoat below the naval, adds to the illusion of more height.
  • Nowadays, shapewear is available to enhance your figure. There are hosiery based slim petticoats, which have slits so that they don’t restrict movement.
  • Take care to get comfortable in them so that they don’t move up and down on the waist.
  • Even if you are using the cotton fabric petticoats, getting them slightly fitted will help you flaunt your figure. The Petticoat shape makes a huge difference! Here is the Amazon link if you want to check out Saree Shapewear.
  • Tying a small knot at the top right corner of the saree when you start draping the saree and tucking it in the petticoat. It ‘fixes’ the saree and it will avoid the saree coming off in case you worry about that!
  • Using a long palla will always give the illusion of more height. So whether you drape the palla at the front, or the back, a long palla will look graceful and make you look taller!
  • Pure fabrics always have the best drapes. Pure cotton, silks, chiffons or georgettes, and so on, will always drape better, have a better fall, and are easier to drape, than faux fabrics.
  • Use minimum pins once you are comfortable with wearing sarees, as pins do tend to make the fabric weaker, and there’s always a chance of damaging the saree in case someone steps on it, or in case of any small mishap.
  • If unavoidable, here’s a simple tip (courtesy Dolly Jain, my saree hero!) to minimize damage and prevent the pin from getting entangles with the saree pleats.
  • Use a safety pin in which a bead has been put, now use it to pin the pleats, and add another bead before closing. Now even if the pin is pulled, it won’t get entangled in the metallic circles of the pin, and won’t damage the saree!

check out celebrity Drape Artist

Check out celebrity Drape Artist (yes, that’s a thing!) Dolly Jain on Instagram.

She regularly shows interesting ways to drape sarees, and is a great one to learn from!). She has developed 325 styles of draping!

Once you’re comfortable wearing sarees in any one way, you can move ahead with trying interesting drapes. Various styles are demonstrated on You Tube, and the sky is the limit to your creativity once the saree becomes a second skin for you!

While there are some interesting styles to drape in – the Bengali style, the Maharashtrian Nauvari style, the dhoti style; there are also several modern takes on how to wear a saree nowadays.

No wonder it’s simply the most versatile 9 yards of fabric!

Mandira Bedi Shows You How To Drape The Perfect Sari

MissMalini Fashion heads over to Mandira Bedi’s store in Khar to get a lesson on how to wear a perfect sari. Press play to see the magic for yourself!

Types of Blouses

Blouses are a world of wonder in themselves (also a separate article!!)

Regular, backless, sleeveless apart; today is all about being comfortable & creative, and going for what you’ve got at hand!

Crop tops, halters, cold-shouldered, bell sleeves, combining different fabrics, shirts or t-shirts, mixing and matching saree blouses with different sarees, combining different crafts (ikkat blouses go with almost anything), or playing around with colors (purple is unbelievably versatile!).

If you have a saree waiting to be worn and are stuck for lack of a blouse (or a existing blouse that is now too small or big), don’t fret about wearing it with a plain rubia, scramble though your other clothes, and I’m sure you; find something that makes the cut!

Blouse lengths can also make a difference to your look and style.

Photo courtesy: mid-day.com, blingsparkle.com, justblouses.in, shopzters.com, keepmestylish.com

How to wear a Saree in Winter?

In winters, adding a long jacket or concealing a shawl under the palla, and then styling it, is a great option! Skivvies & sweaters make for great blouses in winter. (I’m a big fan of those since I feel Soooo Verrrry cold in winters!!).

What are the accessories to go with a Sari?

Accessorise your saree with jewelry.

Image by Irshad Rahimbux from Pixabay

The right jewelry whether real, costume or imitation, can enhance the saree and your look tremendously.

Flowers are an eternal favorite! These things help dress up a saree, making even a simpler saree fit enough to be work to a formal or glamorous occasion.

Belts are also an interesting way to change the look.

Image by Amna Sayeed from Pixabay

What is a Pre-Stiched Sari?

A Pre-Stitched Saree or a Ready-made saree is a saree that has the pleats sewn together so that it’s like a ready to wear garment.

You can simply wear it like a dress, and be on the go!

Make sure you go to a sensible boutique, who has experience in this kind of tailoring, and it’s also a good idea to first try this with an inexpensive saree so that you don’t regret the decision with a more valuable one. Check out Amazon for buying prestiched sarees online.

Is it easier to wear ready-made sarees?

In case you’re still not at ease with draping or need a quick fix for early mornings or a sudden plan, it may be a good idea to have a saree ‘stitched’.

This is also something that works as a great way for Non-Indians to wear, particularly when they want to/ have to wear Indian attire for a wedding, or if one has to gift a saree to them.

How practical!

Always carry yourself confidently, definitely pose, and never lose that smile!

Anachi.Yatra

How To Store Silk Sarees

Silk Sarees need all the love and care you can give them.

For short-term storage, wrap in pure cotton or mulmul, taking care that you have minimal folds in the silk.

If it has to be stored for a long time without wearing, the silk saris can also be hung on a hanger with a fabric cover.

Another interesting option is to roll it around a stick, and then cover with cotton cloth.

You need to decide what works for you based on convenience, and of course, based on how important and expensive the saree is, and how long it is to be kept in storage, you can use.

If cotton covers are not easy to get, store the sarees in old cotton pillow covers! You can check out Eco Friendly, Breathable, Reusable Cotton Saree Covers on amazon as well.

Learn How To Store Silk Sarees (Silk Saree Maintenance) with Just’ Filter Coffee.

Saree Storage tips:

These are Super Important Saree Storage Tips.

  • Sarees are happier when rolled, rather than folded and creased – if that is possible to be done.
  • In case the Saree is such that it’s not possible to roll and keep it, do open and fold in the opposite directions every ouple of months.
  • Use dry neem leaves to keep insects out.
  • Fresh leaves could leave stains – so the easiest ting to do is to keep a few sprifs of neem leaves in the sun for a day or two, and put them in a cotton fabric / hankerchief, and then put that with your sarees.
  • Always air your sarees after wearing, and never store them straightaway. If you can’t sun them for few minutes, then at least leave them to air for a bit.
  • Use old pillow cases to keep heavier silks in them.
  • Never put too much weight (of other sarees) on heavy sarees, and that can lead to the zari of weave getting spoilt.
  • Heavy embroidered sarees should be folded inside out, and avoid storing them on hangers to avoid stretching or tearing.

Editor’s Note

I am a great fan of Anachi.Yatra and here is my mom in one of Anachi’s Hand-Painted ‘Oh so Soft’ Malmal cotton saree!

Hope these suggestions & tips help you start off with draping and wearing sarees perfectly, comfortably, and gracefully. Don’t forget to implement out tips to take care of them!

To start off on a saree wearing spree, join a saree group, or make a fun pact with your friends to wear a saree as often as possible.

The more you wear, the better you’ll get at it, and no doubt, the compliments you get will encourage you more!!

Do send in your comments and further tips. We would love to add anything interesting to this article!

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19 thoughts on “how to drape a perfect Saree – Step By Step Tutorial”

  1. I love the beautiful fabrics of sarees, so many glittering colors. I would love to try one on one day and it seems there is quite an art to putting it all together. Thanks for sharing all these tips, I really didn’t know that much about how you go about draping a saree!

  2. Hi! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post!wearing a saree may seem a bit dreary at first, but keep practicing, and you’ll be a pro in no time!
    Take care!

  3. Back in university, I had these Indian house mates who always looked stunning in their sarees. I am sure they would have let me try one if I asked, but I was always too shy to do so. based on this tutorial, I might just try it out myself once!

  4. wow, I have chance to try it in the Indian wedding- my friend wedding in Malaysia, I really love it.I still keep it now haha. And thank you for your post, very detail and useful.

  5. Okay, I do not want to exaggerate and claim you are a life saver, but you’ve definitely made my day: I bought two sarees in Sri Lanka last month – and actually thought that I had to keep them in my closet for the rest of my days. Now I will at least try to wrap myself in it. Thanx so much for this wonderful post!

  6. What a beautiful piece of clothing! I think saree is almost like a form of art the way women use them and accentuate their fashion and style!

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