The sari is among the most versatile of garments. There are dozens of ways to wrap one. At first, putting one on so that it sits right can seem like an onerous task. Not only should it look good, it should feel comfortable, too. The good news is that, with a few tricks, wrapping a sari correctly is not as difficult as it seems. Here's how it's done.
Shoes and undergarments
Before getting started, you'll need to make a couple of decisions regarding the end result. Start by choosing your shoes. Length is crucial to sari style - if it's too short, it'll look awkward; if it's too long, it'll drag on the ground. So, determine your shoe height before proceeding. Ideally, only the tips of your toes should be visible. Oh, and make sure your footwear matches your chosen sari. Err on the side of elegance.
Next, select your undershirt and petticoat. There's every chance that your sari might be slightly transparent, or, depending on your chosen style, will fall in such a way that your undergarments show, so be sure to choose matching colours.
Hold it right
Hold the sari so that the undecorated side is facing towards you. Now, wrap it around your waist once, tucking it into your petticoat at the end. Be sure that the adorned side (known as the pallu) is on the outside.
Next, wrap it around you again, but this time, hold the cloth out so that it extends as long as your arm when outstretched. Then tuck it in, at a position about 7 centimetres from your belly button - to the left.
Using your left hand, hold the cloth out. Wind it back towards you, creating pleats with your right hand. The number of pleats will depend on the size of your hands - most people average half-a-dozen. But don't worry if it's slightly more or less. That won't influence the overall look. What's most important is that the sari sits comfortably.
Keep them in place
Most people pin their pleats together, to help them stay firm. There's nothing more frustrating than being out somewhere - whether it's just a day wondering around the city or a dinner party or a special event - and having to constantly adjust your sari because the pleats are coming loose.
Whether or not you have a spare pin handy, be sure to tuck the pleats underneath both the original wrapped layer and your petticoat.
The final touches
You should have still have ample fabric leftover. Moving from left to right, wrap the rest of the sari around you, but this time lift it up and drape it over your shoulder. Pin it in place so that it won't slip down. You're now ready to walk out the door!
Buying the right sari
Just a quick word of advice. When purchasing your sari, it's important to focus on high-quality materials and to select colours and patterns that you like. If you're shopping in India, you'll soon discover that various regions offer various types of garments. Some parts of the country are known for producing particularly luxurious silks; others are famous for their bold, geometric patterns; still others are respected for the quality of their gold and silver thread.
Once you've decided what you're after and have figured out your preferred destination, you should book a hotel in Ahmedabad or Delhi or wherever it is you're going. When you get, scope out where the master weavers do their work and be sure to make your purchase there. That way, you'll know you're getting a genuine premium article. Unfortunately, there are some poor-quality products on the market, but they're definitely best avoided.