Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Wear A Saree -- Bengali Style I

Wearing a saree in the old-fashioned Bengali way is, contrary to appearances, quite a simple affair. This style has less folds and tucks that matter and it all crushes down as you go about your day so you don't really look as balloon-like as you may think you do.

You start by tucking the saree around your waist, going left from your navel, round your butt and back to your navel from your right. The photo shows a mistake that many beginners commonly make -- carelessly pulling the saree to the left they as tuck. It's best if you ensure that the saree falls ramrod straight all through this first round, for this and all other styles.


Now cross all that remaining material over to your left once more, making one single fold and tucking it in at your back, just over your left hip. Tuck in the portion that just crossed your waist on the left. At this point the underside of the saree will be uppermost and that's how it should be.


Cross it over in front once and repeat that single small fold and tuck over your right hip at the back now. Tuck in the portion that crossed your midriff.

Now the saree will have turned the right way around once more.

Taking it from the tuck at your back on the right, drape it over your chest, laying the excess material on your left shoulder. Let the rest of the cloth (there will be lots) puddle behind you.

Start folding the saree into neat pleats over your shoulder and don't pull the cloth too tight. It needs to hang comfortably in front of you. The pleats needn't be perfect either because a little imperfection at this point actually adds to the charm of the look. Pin the arrangement carefully to your blouse at your shoulder when the pleats are done.


The only thing you need to ensure is that the border hangs straight down to the left of your left knee.

This honestly is the only part of this drape that needs a bit of practice. It needs to look like this:


The fall stitched on the back of the border should not show, if this is draped right, but even if the border does show, it's not a real problem because no matter how well you drape the fall will show when you move. The only real solution to the problem is to not have falls stitched on your saree.

Now comes the fun part. Get out your key-ring and tie it to the end of the anchal (pallu). The corner you want is the one that will be uppermost if you bring all that excess cloth around to the front under your right arm without twisting it.

If you're not a householder and have no key-ring then you can always tie a bunch of coins in a neat bundle at the corner of the anchal. That's what I used to do and that's what grandmothers did to keep loose change handy.


Throw it over your shoulder.

Now, as you can see, I'm draping a silk saree, so it was a bit slippery. It made sense to me to let the cloth settle and then just pin those few upper folds of the pallu so that not all the weight was on the key-ring.

The anchal will fall asymmetrically across your front and somehow, this looks beautiful no matter what the style. You can pull the portion hanging loose behind your back over your head to make what we Bengalis call a ghomta (ghunghat) to cover your head during worship or just to keep the sun off.

The beauty of this style is that it's very loose and comfortable to wear and there always seems to be enough cloth to cover you when it rains or it gets too sunny. It's also great for highlighting the work on the anchal and borders since both are showcased, so to speak.

Note: In movies and on telly they show the key-ringed anchal being draped over the other (right) shoulder. Well, I've always seen only one shoulder bearing both rounds of cloth in real life and I think it makes more sense. Certainly more comfortable.

General Tips:

Wear your petticoat and then do your hair and makeup. These fifteen minutes will give it time to settle so by the time you drape the saree you'll be able to tell if you need to tighten/loosen the petticoat waist.

When tucking at your waist always try to ensure that the material is smooth next to your skin (under the petticoat). This ensures a slimmer silhouette.


UPDATE:
How to wear a Madisar (Iyer style)

54 comments:

the mad momma said...

damn. do i need to delurk too?! fine. if you insist. btw - sexy waist :D

Sue said...

MM -- :D Same to you and all that.

Mystic Margarita said...

Thankyee, Sue. I didn't know how to drape a saree the old-fashioned bengali way. Will try some day. You make it sound easy!

Sue said...

Mystic -- You're teasing me, right? You really didn't know? It's quite simple. If you get confused, ping me and I'll show on you on Skype or something!

Mona said...

i love the saree. i love the draping too. i'd love to try but sigh, i think i'd need a personal tutorial.

Mystic Margarita said...

Na re...I really didn't know. I always wear a saree the regular way. You've explained the steps very well and pics. help- think will manage but me being me, will ping you if screwing up happens:)

Sue said...

Mona -- Try it with a crepe or an unstarched cotton sometime, from the post. If you really can't figure it out, ping me. But I insist you try out my tutorial first. I need to know where to put in more info!

Mystic -- Na, it really is as simple as all that. :) We'll play dress-up when you come home, then!

mayG said...

wow you sure make it sound easy peasy.. never draped a sari this way.. let me try and tell you how it goes.. mona and I should have a girly slumber party and try this out when the husband goes off for a business trip!

jottingsnmusings said...

As kids, my best friend and I used to drape sarees the Bengali way (or so we thought!) and play house-house. I now know we were nowhere close to getting it right! We saw Bengali women in movies and tried to guess our way through... :)

Thanks for the tips Sue - I will try them and let you know how it goes.

I love your saree and the kadas btw. The saree - is it Dhaka cotton?

chandni said...

wow!! All u ladies who know how to tie a saree properly give me a complex!!!!


beautiful saree :)

Sue said...

MayG -- Sure, it really is very simple. Perhaps I ought to make a video. So much work, though.

Jottings -- No, it's a printed tussar. With a cotton you would need only one safety pin.

The 'bala's (bangles) belonged to my mother.

Chandni -- So try it out na. I'll do another one on the regular wearing soon. I just had the pics for this one sooner.

eve's lungs said...

Thankee milady - I'll refer to this next year - you looked very nice :)

SUR NOTES said...

beautiful saree...

and what do i say about the waist??? virtual wolf whistles coming your way...

and i love the begali saree for dealing with those blasted set of keys that are always threatening to get lost!!!

Opaline said...

Lovely sari.

Rohini said...

Have to admit that was Greek to me. Need to add sari draping to the makeover party ;-)

Clytemnestra said...

Wow Sue! And Thank you thank you thank you! I'm getting married next month (to a Babumoshai!) and have been dying to get to know how to dress up like a perfect ginni. This is so well-timed..... didn't ever imagine you had mind-reading among your many talents! But seriously, thank you ever so much. I actually shrieked with joy and wonder when I saw this. All I'm gonna do now is practise, and it'll be very nice if you could put up a video too. :-)
Sorry for such a long comment. I'm a long-time reader here and just had to delurk today. Oh, and I also found your advice to daughters-in-law very enlightening and useful.
Perhaps you remember me from Univ.
- Rashi

RJ said...

Wow! I liked the post. Curious who took the pictures ?

D said...

Agree with MM: Sexy waist :)
And love the lesson, as much as I love the Bengali saree style. However, I still need a live demo to get this right!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

On a tall, slim and sexy-waisted figure like yours, there's just no way the traditional way of wearing the sari could ever look frumpy on you!

I second the bit about wolf whistles!

Parul said...

Hello Hottie,

I am not a sari wearer at all but you tempt me to try for sure. Maybe for Diwali then. Will put pics on FB if I succeed, k?

Poppins said...

All the instructions went right above my head, I'm just commenting to say that you are HOT. Damn sexy. Or is it just me and my postpartum deprivation? ;)

Mama - Mia said...

wow!!

i would second poppin's mom!! :p i take forever to wear a simple saree even after having worn it a few dozen times!! hehe!

great post Sue!!

cheers!

abha

Sue said...

Evie -- Try it for Kali pujo. Shall I come over if you need help?

Sur -- Isn't it an absolutely gorgeous saree? My aunt bought it for herself and then, overcome with unexpected love and whatchmacalit, gave it to me. ;)

Srin -- Thanks!

Ro -- You're on. I'll do a video sometime.

Rashi -- Sure I remember you. Tell you what, come over some morning and I'll show you. Draping a heavy silk takes a little more practice but it stays very well.

RJ -- The husband. I had just come back from the sindoor khela and was about to change into house clothes when I remembered the post I'd written and thought some pics would be useful.

D -- Ooof. Try it na. I'll put up a video. You're all reminding me of the ancient Bong saying, "If you let him sit he'll want to lie down!"

Parul -- Oooh, you have the perfect figure for this one. If you have any fancy blouse, wear it with that. Sabyasachi says old-fashioned blouses are in this season!

Sue said...

Poppy -- Bah, I give up. You go take care of my nieces. Next we meet I'll show you in person. Such a comfy style, you'll fall in love with it.

Abha -- :) How come your comments always make me grin?

Artnavy said...

late here but have to agree that that is one gorgeous sari on an outrageously gorgeous young momma

Cosmic Treehouse said...

I have to tell you this: I just can't wear one. I tried several times, but I just can't function in them. Indian women have a certain gazelle-like elegance and they can navigate in them. You make it look so easy but me, I just can't move in them. I trip, I fall, it comes undone in spite of all the safety pins.

asaaan said...

So you use a regular saree or they special extra long sarees for this?

A video would be muchas appreciated..
Later tonight, I am going to try this when all my kids are asleep.

I am lurker too :)

PS: virtual wolf whistling *whee wheee*

Casuarina said...

A video please....sometime soon perhaps...always wanted to know how to wear the saree the old fashioned way but somehow never found the time or mentor to advise....thanks a million !

Sue said...

ArtNavy -- ;)

Cosmic -- If you can handle a heavy skirt, you can handle a saree. And it's wisest to rely on comfortable tucking in rather than safety pins because safety pins have a habit of letting one down! I'll do a post on the regular style later, OK? Perhaps that will help.

Asaan -- Oh a regular saree works best. Let me know how it goes. (Mail me a photo?)

Casuarina -- It's a very comfortable way, I assure you! Lots of freedom and, um, ventilation.

Squiggles Mom said...

Was fun reading about it, though would not look half as nice as you do :).

DotThoughts said...

oooh.. wish I had read the post while I was in india. The new SIL wanted to do bengali style for her reception.. and we did not know how. am sending the post to her now.

Sue said...

Squiggle's Mom -- Try it and see. I've always thought you look nice in sarees.

Dottie -- :) Skype me, we'll sort it out.

mummyjaan said...

I did a google search on "how to wear a sari bengali style"; your page popped up as the 2nd search result.

Thought I'd tell you, but maybe you know already!

Sue said...

Mummyjaan -- LOL! No, I didn't until I read your comment. Thanks for dropping me a line.

Anonymous said...

Hey
ur tutorial is the closest thing i have to come to in figurin out this drape :)
but am still really confused
it would be a great help if u could upload a video.
pls pls
thanks a lot

Sue said...

Anon -- I've tried making a video but all you can hear is my son's views of the world.

I'm trying to work out a drawing. So far, I suck at it. Back to the ol' drawing board.

If you mail me, I can maybe make explain better.

Anonymous said...

thanks for trying ... but for someone who has never seen it done, it is impossible to follow. :-(

Sue said...

Anon -- So mail me. It's a very uncomplicated drape.

OfficeTips said...

Hi Sue,

I keep coming back to this blog post whenever I plan to drape a sari the Bengali way. The last time I read this post, I had it all figured out in my mind :) Yet to put it into fabric :D

Sue said...

Office Tips -- Go on, give it a shot. Send me a photo when you're done. :)

swapna said...

hi i googled and chanced upon this .... just one bit that was not clear when i tried it at home ..the last pallu thingy where do i pull the pallu from to tie up the key ring :)? i want to wear it for nobomi in singapore this saturday and desparetly want to wear it bong style ( i am not a bong:):):))

I am wearing a red and white dhakai saree.....

Thanks in anticipation for your response to this :)

Sue said...

Swapna -- Hi. See, you've thrown the pallu over your left shoulder once, right, with the border going in a straight line from waist to knee/calf? Now bring it back to the front, over your butt and under your right arm. Now sling that little bit over your left/right shoulder and pin in place or weigh it down with a big bunch of keys (tie tight!)

Dhakais tend to be measly with the amount of cloth but you should get a loose sweep of cloth across your back, from left shoulder to under right arm, and you can make a ghunghat out of this or just pull it to cover your back and right shoulder from the sun.

Have fun and don't pin the saree anywhere apart from the shoulder. If any tucks at the waist pull out, just casually tuck them right back in.

Send me a pic of your Nabami getup, why don't you?

swapna said...

thanks i surely will :):):) that is wear the saree this way and send the photo :)

krishna said...

Now I also know how to wear the bengali saree
I like it
plz send me u photos

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!
Great guide, well explained, I can finally do it :-)

Sue said...

Anon -- :) You're welcome.

Ramashree said...

Hello, and thanks for the post. I'm trying it out in a few minutes, and will tell you how it worked out :-)

your saree brought back lovely calcutta memories...

Anonymous said...

thank you for the post.i had to do this college assignment on the different styles of sari worn by women in india and your post definitely helped.though i am mostly a jeans and tshirt kinda person, but on the rare occasions that i do have to wear a sari, i might try this out.i have this fear that if i walk the sari will just come off.

Sue said...

Ramashree -- That's nice to hear. :)

Anon -- A tightly tied petticoat will keep your saree on. And if any tuck comes out, tuck it casually back in.

Madhusmita said...

agami kal ratei biyebarite ei style ta porte chaichilam, thanks to u!! got it!! :))

Sue said...

Madhusmita -- That's good to hear. Well done. :)

JAYITA said...

Sue,taking trouble to describe the drape went a long way;i saw a couple of videos but wasn't sure till now,thanks!Need to walk the ramp Bengali style for a college fashion show........thinking of my pink and black batik silk,since u mentioned that the dhakai might fall short.

Sue said...

Jayita -- I'm 5'6" and find my dhakais fall a little short on me, but I suggest you try yours on and see. Go for the fabric and colour that looks most dramatic on stage. Break a leg!

JAYITA said...

Tried the dhakai-wasn't so exciting;will go with a mustard kanchi cotton saree i just bought and haven't attached the fall to yet-it's got a sheen and a nice border that should work on stage.
Thank u so much for the tips and prompt reply;will email u a pic once i get done with this........!