Do you want to wear a sari but don’t know where to start? Hooray! We’re here to help.
Step 1: Buy a sari. We recommend something that is lightweight, preferably made of chiffon or georgette material. Lighter saris are easier to wear for beginners, and they’re good for warm weather.
Step 2: Buy a petticoat. You will need to wear this underneath your sari. A petticoat is a plain, solid color, cotton skirt that ties with a drawstring.
They are generally one-size-fits-most. If you are particularly tall or short, or particularly thin or heavy, you might need to special-order a petticoat. But in our experience, women ranging in sizes from 4 to 14 can share off-the-rack petticoats. Big relief for those of us who like Girl Scout cookie season a bit too much.
Step 3: Buy a blouse. Saris are essentially just really beautiful pieces of fabric, like a toga. However, unlike a toga, you will wear a separate blouse with your sari. The blouse is meant to be seen, at least a little. Most blouses fasten in the front using hook-and-eye closures.
Saris usually come with a “blouse piece,” which is a 1-2 yard piece of fabric that matches the sari and can be sewn to make a blouse. However, it is hard to find a tailor who knows how to make a sari blouse from scratch. Plain sari blouses in standard colors (black, gold, silver, red, etc.) can be purchased online for a reasonable cost and usually track normal American sizing. These are a good option, and can be used with multiple saris!
Step 4: Make sure the sari has a “fall” sewn in. This is a 3-inch strip of fabric sewn to the inside bottom of the plain end of the sari to protect the sari from your feet while you walk. Without a fall, the sari could fray or tear easily if you accidentally step on your sari. With the fall, the sari is protected … a bit.
Step 5: Obtain a few large safety pins.
Step 6: Wrap your sari. Put on your blouse, put on your petticoat, and start wrapping yourself in fabric. We like this video by Good Indian Girl for a basic tutorial on how to “fold it.”
There are several options for wrapping your sari, but the most traditional method involves wrapping from right to left so you end up with the decorative sari piece (pallu) draped over your left shoulder. Secure your folds with a safety pin just below your waist, and secure your pallu to the back of your left shoulder with one additional safety pin.