How to Wear an Indian Sari

Updated February 21, 2017

The sari is the traditional dress for women in India. Consisting of a length of cloth that runs from 13 to 26 feet long and four feet wide, the sari is perfect for women of all sizes and shapes. Despite the changes in fashion across the world, the sari is still a popular mode of dress in India and is timeless in its beauty, rich hues and versatility. Although it is seemingly uncomplicated in appearance, knowing how to wear a sari can be confusing and may take several tries to successfully accomplish.

Choose a blouse for underneath the sari. Select a blouse, which is known as a choli, that is form-fitting and either sleeveless or short-sleeved. The blouse that you choose can have a high or low neckline and should end just below the bust. Select a colour that is complementary to the sari.

Wear a petticoat. Choose one that is the same colouring or shade as the sari so that no part is easily visible. The petticoat, or saya, will need to be long enough to reach your ankles and must be tied tightly at your waist.

Begin tucking the sari into the petticoat. Start just to the right of the navel using the top, plain end of the sari. The entire length of the sari should be on the left hand side and touching the floor. Wrap the sari around you once until it is in the front, on your right-hand side.

Create between five and nine pleats. Begin at the section that is tucked in and fold your pleats with an equal width of five inches. Bring the pleats together so that they are piled on top of one another evenly as well as even on the bottom and falling just above the ground. Pin the pleats with a small safety pin to ensure they do not scatter. Tuck the pleats into the petticoat slightly to the left of your navel so that they open to the left.

Wrap the remaining fabric again from left to right. Stop at the front of your hips holding the upper edge of the sari. Lift the unwrapped part of the sari so that it is under the right arm and over the left shoulder. The ending draped length is called the Pallu and can be left to drape on its own or secured with a small safety pin.


The word “sari” comes from the Sanskrit word for long cloth and is believed to date back as far as 600 B.C. (see References) There are many alternative ways of draping a sari depending on the region in India. Tie the petticoat tightly to prevent the sari from slipping when tucked.

Things You'll Need

  • Blouse
  • Petticoat
  • Sari
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About the Author

Mai Bryant is a Northern California writer who specializes in writing about health-related topics, fashion and relationships. She began writing online in 2005 but has freelanced privately for more than 10 years. Bryant's eclectic professional background as a medical technician, a licensed cosmetologist, copywriter and event planner allows her to write with authority on numerous topics.