Is there an outfit more iconic than the sari? Like a Little Black Dress, every women should have at least one sari in her wardrobe, ready and waiting for any social gathering that appears on her calendar.
With clever styling, the quintessential sari can be worn by all; young or old, bride or guest. We show you to style nine yards of beauty into four looks, perfect for any special occasion.
The sari of choice? A blush pink hand-embroidered piece from Manish Malhotra.
How to tie a classic sari
1. Firstly, tie the ghagra, or petticoat, tight on the waist. Take the plain end of the sari and starting midway, wrap around the waist once or one and a half, depending on your dress size. Watch out for creases as they could add bulk at the final stages.
2. Make 5-8 pleats by passing the fabric between your index finger and thumb to get equal depths - around 4in is ideal. This can be tricky and novices may need to practice pleating until they find their rhythm. But once you've mastered the art, you'll be able to get dressed in your sari in next to no time.
3. Gather your pleats at the waist and tuck into the petticoat. The pleats should fall nicely at the centre of the body and fan out to cover your feet at the hemline
4. Use a large safety pin to secure the pleated section inside the petticoat.
5. Once your pleats are snugly tucked into place, take the border of the sari and curve the fabric around the hips and body to achieve a flattering fit.
6. Finally, take the pallu on the left shoulder and pleat it as required. You can safety pin the gathered pleats onto the top of the shoulder of the blouse for a more secure fit, or leave them loose. The choice is yours!
Sari Style: 4 Ways to Wear It
Popular for centuries, this is the look most Indian women swear by. It's a classic because it flatters all shapes. The sari is folded and pinned on the left shoulder, accentuating the wearer’s curves and the pleats of the fabric. You can refresh the look by swaping the blouse for another colour and adding different accessories as the occasion calls. This is a beautiful way to display an intricately embroidered piece with heavy border details.
This style of drape originates from Gujarat and many women opt for this drape for Navratri and traditional Gujarati weddings. Similar to the Classic, Gujarati style is distinctive due to the way the pallu is arranged; it falls in front of the body over the right shoulder rather than behind the left shoulder. It’s perfect for pallus with a stunning design or is adorned with heavy embellishments.
The Kolkata sari (also known as a Bengali sari) is, as the name suggests, most often seen in Kolkata and favours clever draping over pleats. Bollywood stars adore the look, with actresses including Kajol, Rani Mukerji and Aishwarya Rai Bachan wearing this style for films such as Devdas and festivals such as Durga Puja. The timeless look works well for saris that are hand-loomed, or made from cotton or brocade.
One of the contemporary drapes, Dhoti-style is inspired by Dhoti trousers. It’s a fun way to wear your sari and is quickly gaining popularity, especially since a string of stars such as Sonam Kapoor have been seen sporting the style on the red carpet. Some opt out of the petticoat and simply don a pair of leggings beneath, choosing a high-necked blouse with 3/4 arms for a more fashion-forward feel.