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Web Exclusive: How to Tie a Sari

The Martha Stewart Show, March 2011

Saris, traditional Indian garments worn primarily by Hindu women, consist of several yards of light material that are draped around the body. They come in various lengths, colors, and designs, and are made of fabric ranging from textured handwoven cloth to sheer luxurious silks to modern-day synthetic materials.

Two essential pieces of attire go along with the sari: a petticoat, whose color should match the base color of the sari as closely as possible, and a blouse, which should be tight-fitting and whose color should be chosen with the look of the sari in mind. The petticoat, which is a waist-to-floor garment, is tied tightly at the waist by a drawstring. The blouse can be short-sleeved or sleeveless, with one of a variety of necklines, and ends just below the bust.

Here, Martha Stewart Living deputy creative director Ayesha Patel demonstrates how to properly tie a sari on Whole Living contributing editor Sophie Herbert.

How to Tie a Sari
1. Start wearing the sari by tucking its plain/upper end into the petticoat, at a position which is a little bit to the right of the navel. Make sure that the lower end of the sari is touching the floor and that the whole length of the sari comes on the left-hand side.

2. Wrap the sari around yourself once, with the sari now coming to the front again, on your right side.

3. Make about 5 to 7 pleats of equal width of 5 inches, starting at the tucked-in end. Gather the pleats together, neatly, ensuring that the lower edges of the pleats are even and just off the ground and that the pleats fall straight and evenly. A safety pin may be used to stop the pleats from scattering.

4. Neatly tuck the pleats into the petticoat, at the waist, slightly to the left of the navel, so that they open to your left.

5. Drape the remaining fabric around yourself once more left to right, and bring it round your hips to the front, holding the top edge of the sari.

6. Slightly raise the remaining portion of the sari on your back, bringing it up under the right arm and over the left shoulder so that the end of the sari falls to about the level of your knees.

7. The end portion thus draped, from the left shoulder onwards, is called the pallav or the pallu, and can be prevented from slipping off the shoulder by fastening it at the shoulder to the blouse with a small safety pin.