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Lavanya Bahuguna


5 Women. 5 Body Types. 5 Sari Experiments. Which One Is Your Favorite?

  • JWB Post
  •  August 9, 2016


Indian women are curvy and they say, saris look the best on us. But, does that mean women who aren’t up to this set body standard can’t slay in a sari?


On the occasion of National Handloom Day, asked five women with contrasting body types to model in their favorite saris. Check out how they’re bringing body positivity back:

The Formal Sari is a thing

“Growing up in a Tamil Brahmin household, the sari was an essential part of my childhood. Through my formative years, I wore variations on the sari – the pavadai which is like a light ghargara and the dhavani or the half sari so I really didn’t feel out of place transitioning to a sari. What I do have, however, are strong memories associated with saris – I remember the day I finally learned how to drape a sari – it was from a lady who worked in my house. I think women today believe that it makes them look older and more staid. Even though there are many designers, shops, online portals and even weavers that are doing a fantastic job of curating and producing young and vibrant designs, it seems to be a garment they would rather buy for their mothers than wear it themselves. It’s a cultural problem that people are trying to address. The biggest of these movements being the #100sareepact where women can sign up to wear saris for a year. It’s fantastic because it gets women to commit to the idea of wearing saris and helps them realize it’s not as difficult as they thought it might be.”

—Nivedita Ravishankar, 30, Advertising Executive

Runway to Reality

“Being six feet plus, carrying a sari has never been a problem for me. So the first time I wore a sari was for my class 10th farewell, one of mom’s (obviously). It was a beautiful black sari, very light and took forever to drape but I absolutely loved it! Even performed to a dance number with a couple of my classmates on stage .#ownedit. I honestly don’t know why young women don’t like wearing saris today. Maybe because when you don’t know how to drape one, it can be time consuming (the struggle is real). But once you get acquainted, I don’t think there’s anything that can make a woman look more elegant than a beautiful handloom piece like the one I am wearing.”

—Reha Sukheja, 25, Model

Kodaikanal Won’t, But She Will

“Being extremely skinny and flat-chested, a sari is my go-to outfit when I want to look fuller. When I drape on a sari, I immediately feel regal and graceful – as opposed to my general state of being that oscillates between hobo and Neanderthal. I have worn saris to clubs and bars too. I am extremely comfortable in them. I totally believe that we haven’t truly explored the styling possibilities of a sari. I have a black silk sari that I pair with gold doorknockers and black nail polish. Did someone say Goth-Desi? And here’s a little secret. I have scoliosis. On one side, my waist has a more pronounced curve than the other. This “deformity” becomes a boon with a sari. I just switch the side of my drape to reveal the curvier side and I end up looking quite curvaceous.

—Sofia Ashraf, 29, Producer at Blush Channel, Culture Machine

Geek is the New Black

“A sari is my favourite piece of clothing for any occasion or festival. All my friends always want to be in a anarkali or a lehenga and I have often asked them why they never opt for a sari instead. I think most people feel it is very old-school to wear one, something I completely disagree with. I think it’s all about how you style it, there are so many possibilities vis-à-vis the drapes. The best part is, you can accentuate any part of your body with the way you drape the pallu. No matter what shape or size you are, a sari needs no customisation, just drape it well and you can rock in one from day to night! A little bit of practice and you can walk around in one. I feel there aren’t many aspirational figures out there wearing saris for younger women to look up to and get inspired. However, it is good to see a lot of designers translating traditional weaves into something modern by adding funk to them.”

—Mona Joshi, 26, Celebrity Manager

Little Miss Sunshine

“I have fond memories of my mother in saris from when I was a little girl. I remember, once she was getting ready to go to a party with my dad and taken out this blue silk sari to wear. I absolutely loved that sari. I nagged her and chased her around the house till she agreed to drape it on me. I was so tiny that she had to fold the sari into half to match my height. I ran around the house, dragging the pallu on the floor. It was fun. Then I got tired. Today, young women are not keen on wearing one because honestly, we can’t deny that it’s cumbersome to wear and manage the sari all day long. Our lives are hectic now and commute is a big part of it. Also, I feel we don’t see sari as power dressing while it can totally be. Wish people would see it like that. Once a sari has been draped securely, I can pretty much do anything in it. I can run, dance and conquer the world. I have been told I carry it with ease. This one time though, I forgot to carry wedges to a beach wedding in Goa. Since I am not tall, heels are a must when I wear a sari and I couldn’t even think of wearing my stilettos on the beach so I had to wear flats and that look didn’t quite work as it was a Punjabi wedding and I felt like I was the shortest person, ever!”

—Charu Gaur, 34, Founder, Runway Square

Photographed by: Dwaipayan Mazumdar; Styling by: Shirin Salwan; Make-up and Hair by: Panache Sejpal

This article was first published here.

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