What a saree gives you is, the freedom to interpret it in new ways or happily be comfortable in the tried and tested..
Photos: Vincent Boyer (Say hi on instagram @vincetravelbook)
I have come across an article that talks about what not to do when wearing a saree, a well-wisher (read asshole) sent it to me in the murky world that is Instagram direct message.
I am definitely not sharing a link to the article because I think it is absolute nonsense of the worst kind but here is what I will share: A list of dos and don’ts when wearing a saree:
- Choose the right blouse
Wondering if you should wear a matching blouse or a contrast blouse with your saree, or about the neckline or design at the back or sleeve length? That skimpy choli you saw on a celebrity, could you wear it and look great? Should it be fitted or boxy?
How about just wearing whatever the hell you feel like and whatever is within arm’s reach on the day? Its a whole different kind of fun to design one’s blouse and feel fabulous in it. But you can also wear whatever top YOU thinks looks fabulous and if the blouse police has a problem with it, it is THEIR problem.
2. Choose the right pallu length
This is one of my favourites! You know what they say? The pallu length is crucial to the final look of the saree. Too long or too short pallu will just make one look, hmm what exactly?
How about wearing the length that seems right for you, on that day? I like my pallu long, but you might feel completely different about a long pallu, so you do you my friend, you do you!
3. Choose the right petticoat (under skirt)
Asking yourself questions like: How can one have a matching petticoat for every saree? What if the petticoat you’re wearing is wrong for the saree? What if the petticoat kills your entire look?
How about just having a nude petticoat that looks good under any saree? How about no petticoat? How about wearing your sarees with pants? And above all how about wearing a fun underskirt and not caring if it matches or peeks out from under? How about making what you already have, work for you?
4. Choose the right footwear
We’ve all heard things like wear your heels before you start draping or you’ll mess up the length. Asking yourself if you should wear heels with your saree as it will give you extra length and look great? Should you wear those high heels that you love but makes you tower over guys? Wondering if you could get away with embellished flats because it is going to be a long day and you don’t want to wear heels?
How about just wearing whatever you feel like? Wear the flats if you want to, wear heels if you feel like, wear sneakers if you’re running from pillar to post.
5. Choose the right length for the saree
You know what they say? The length of your saree should be neither too long nor too short, just right. (Are we stuck in a Goldilocks and the three bears universe?)
What is just right length though? How about just wearing it the way you want? Mini-length, midi-length, dhoti style till the ankles, knee-length dhoti, anything you want!
6. Choose the right draping style
Have you been told any of the following: Stick to the drape that looks good on your shape, some draping styles makes one look bulky, others flatteringly slim, wear your pallu pleated and ‘flaunt’ your flat stomach, hide your not-so-flat stomach. Hmm?
Also don’t show too much cleavage and definitely no back cleavage! Yaar! back cleavage kya hota hai?
There are hundreds of draping styles in India and there are many more ways of experimenting with the saree. How about just playing with your drape till YOU feel great? Or just sticking to YOUR tried and tested?
7. Choose the right bra
Ooh! This is a big one. Have you heard something along the lines of, wear the right bra in the right colour for a saree/saree blouse and make sure the straps are not visible?
How about wearing the bra you like in whatever colour you like? Or going bra-less or wearing a fun bralette, sports bra or swimsuit top as your blouse? The bra that feels right for your needs is the right bra for a saree! I wear a sports bra if I feel like it, a lacy bra if I want to and if a strap peeks out, I make sure its a bloody cute colour!
8. Choose the right fabric and colour
Did you know there is the right fabric for every body shape? And suitable colour options based on the shade of your skin, age and marital status?? Mujhe toh pata hi nahi tha!
Rubbish like, skinny girls with no curves should wear certain fabrics, curvier ladies should wear another and who knows what else. Or one should wear cotton with cotton, silk with silk and of course only silk for pujas or weddings, you know because cotton is for the poor and silk means opulence and wealth?
How about just wearing the saree you want to wear, not the one THEY say is right for YOUR body type, skin colour, age, socio-economic status etc.?
9. Choose the right jewellery
Should you wear all the jewellery you have because you love them all? Should you wear nothing because jewellery isn’t really your thing? But your friend reminds you, not to look like a Christmas tree or that you’re going to a wedding and should wear some gold. Or that well-meaning relative says that you look like you’re going to a funeral because of minimal jewellery.
One, what’s wrong about looking like a Christmas tree because you want to?! I mean most people love looking at/ decorating Christmas trees. And what’s wrong with wearing plastic, wood or any other kind of jewellery you like with your saree? Or no jewellery at all, because you feel like it?
How about just wearing the jewellery you like, you want to wear and you feel comfortable wearing?
10. Choose where and how to pin your saree
They say, securing your pleats and your pallu are a must, the pins shouldn’t show and definitely must be positioned right?
How about pinning or not pinning the saree based on what you prefer or wearing fun pins and not caring if they show? How about filling your saree with brooches?
11. Choose the right hair cut/ colour/ style
Have any of you been told any of the following: Straighten your hair into sleekness when wearing a saree, girls with long lustrous locks look best in sarees, wear your hair in nice bun, don’t leave it wild and unruly!
How about just let your hair be the way it wants to be? Wear a saree with long hair or short, with thick unruly hair or a shaved head, tie it up or leave it down, whatever YOU want.
What not to do when wearing a saree?
Don’t be a misogynistic, gender roles obsessed, douche that wants to maintain shitty beauty standards and views people’s bodies as objects meant to please the viewer’s gaze!
Also remember saree is probably one of the first gender neutral clothing options meant for everyone inside and outside of one’s understanding of the gender spectrum.
The saree doesn’t have to come with a set of dreary rules, an expiry date based on trends especially if you choose timeless handlooms, it doesn’t have to have an age limit, or a body shape preference!
What a saree gives you is, the freedom to interpret it in new ways or happily be comfortable in the tried and tested! So if the saree police accosts you, ask them to get lost and choose to feel good about YOU!
Tell me what saree rule gets your goat, let’s keep the conversation going in the comments section.