The great Indian stitch-less garment

July 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm 25 comments

Of the countless variety of trousseaus that unravel and enhance the innate charm of a lady, there isn’t an attire that is so captivating in elegance yet distinct in demeanour, stately and dignified yet sublimely sensuous as the stitch-less Indian garment, the Saree.  For the one who could carry it with élan, the saree confers poise and authority, style with substance and endow the feminine persona an aura of majesty.  With folds and pleats, laces and entrancingly winding hems, the draping of this very adorable apparel is as intricate and delicate as the designs and patterns that are woven on them.  The six yard eloquence on yarn is at once a loud proclamation of the genius of the Indian craft and a silent tribute to the glory of the womanhood.  

While a neatly worn saree presents the picture of a complete woman, each subtle shift in the way it is draped could epitomize an image of femininity that is distinctively different from each other. If the casual hanging of the Pallu (the loose end) over the left shoulder of an erect frame could be suggestive of a woman with authority, taking it around the back to the other shoulder could instantaneously symbolize deep modesty. Tuck it around the waist and there is a person ready for combat or cover it around the head and a woman of humility and reverence is born.  For the tall and the slim, the saree could just be the medium to flaunt a chiselled figure and for the plump and the rounded the saree perfectly hides the extra fat from public gaze. The saree could conceal as much as you want it to reveal! With gracious steps and a flowing tress, the lady decked up in the finest Banares silk is a picture of most tantalizing beauty that the eyes could behold whereas with a bun of gray hair, the octogenarian in starched Pochumpally eludes a charm that is equally mesmerizing.  The saree is the most egalitarian among dresses that doesn’t really let anyone down.

An essential accomplice to the stitch-less garment is the decoratively tailored jacket that is worn on the upper torso. With an amazing variety of cuts, shapes and designs, the jacket is indeed a canvas to showcase the skills of the couturier to complement and enhance the appeal of the fabric. Full sleeved or spaghetti strapped, stringed back or off shoulders, the jackets are natural extensions to saree that together would cast a spell on all and sundry.

But the modern day young Indian women seemed to have lost her moorings with this awe-inspiring garment as they are mostly seen in listless outfits. The saree, sadly, is now no more a regular wear, being confined to be worn for the occasional wedding receptions. For the working and the travelling woman, pants and jeans could be more a convenient option but when it comes to making a statement or to leave an impact, there isn’t yet a competition to the great Indian stitch-less garment.




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25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. umeshjairam  |  July 18, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Marvellous…. writing on my most crazy garment (ofcourse not for wearing). However I do not agree with you on… “the saree, sadly, is now no more a regular wear.” Your contention may be apt for the Metros. But in almost all nook and corner of great Bharat (see the women of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu). The great MS (goddess incarnate) is a typical example of the rich tradition of sarees in India.

  • 2. rekhabaala  |  July 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Loved this post! Yes, there is no awe-inspiring garment like the sari! It is casual, smart casual as well as formal! Beats any other garment any day! And every part of India has its own saree tale to tell… whether it is in the weaving, the colours, the fabric or the prints. Tussars, benarasis, kanjeevarams, the kerala kasavu sari, tangail, the kotas, mysore silks or the Kanchi cottons… the options are indeed limitless!

  • 3. balakrishnan  |  July 18, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Why did u leave out the upper torso in the picture though there is reference to it in the text!? May be you wanted the correct focus.

    Well I would have agreed with your view on sari until a few months back. Not any more. I am in Mumbai. And every girl here wears ‘jeans’ (as if it is in their Genes). But let me tell you – They all look stunning and chiseled. A look no sari can match. This is called Tailor made (or ‘Maid’).

    Well another stitch-less garment that comes to mind is the ‘lungi’. Recently someone sent me a mail about this garment. Here is an extract of the same.

    The Legendary Lungi

    Just as the national bird of Kerala is Mosquito, her national dress is ‘Lungi’. Pronounced as ‘Lu’ as in loo and ‘ngi ‘ as in ‘mongey’, a
    lungi can be identified by its floral or window-curtain pattern. ‘Mundu’ is the white variation of lungi and is worn on special
    occasions like hartal or bandh days, weddings and Onam.

    Lungi is simple and ‘down to earth’ like the mallu wearing it. Lungi is the beginning and the end of evolution in its category. Wearing
    something on the top half of your body is optional when you are wearing a lungi. Lungi is a strategic dress. It’s like a
    one-size-fits- all bottoms for Keralites.

    The technique of wearing a lungi/mundu is passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth like the British Constitution. If you think it is an easy task wearing it, just try it once! It requires techniques like breath control and yoga that is a notch higher than
    sudarshan kriya of AOL. A lungi/mundu when perfectly worn won’t come off even in a quake of 8 on the richter scale. A lungi is not attached to the waist using duct tape, staple, rope or velcro. It’s a bit of mallu magic whose formula is a closely guarded secret like the Coca Cola chemicals.

    A lungi can be worn ‘Full Mast’ or ‘Half Mast’ like a national flag. A ‘Full Mast’ lungi is when you are showing respect to an elderly or the
    dead. Wearing it at full mast has lots of disadvantages. A major disadvantage is when a dog runs after you. When you are wearing a
    lungi/mundu at full mast, the advantage is mainly for the female onlookers who are spared the ordeal of swooning at the sight of hairy legs.

    Wearing a lungi ‘Half Mast’ is when you wear it exposing yourself like those C grade movie starlets. A mallu can play cricket, football or simbly run when the lungi is worn at half mast. A mallu can even climb a coconut tree wearing lungi in half mast. “It’s not good manners, especially for ladies from decent families, to look up at a mallu climbing a coconut tree”- Confucius (or is it Abdul Kalam?)

    Most mallus do the traditional dance kudiyattam. Kudi means drinking alcohol and yattam, spelled as aattam, means random movement of the male body. Note that ‘y’ is silent. When you are drinking, you drink, there is no ‘y’. Any alcohol related “festival” can be enjoyed to the maximum when you are topless with lungi and a towel tied around the head. “Half mast lungi makes it easy to dance and shake legs” says Candelaria Amaranto, a Salsa teacher from Spain after watching ‘kudiyaattam’ .

    The ‘Lungi Wearing Mallu Union’ [LUWMU, pronounced LOVE MU], an NGO which works towards the ‘upliftment’ of the lungi, strongly disapprove of the GenNext tendency of wearing Bermudas under the lungi. Bermudas under the lungi is a conspiracy by the CIA. It’s a disgrace to see a person wearing burmuda with corporate logos under his lungi. What they don’t know is how much these corporates are limiting their freedom of movement and expression.

    A mallu wears lungi round the year, all weather, all season. A mallu celebrates winter by wearing a colourful lungi with a floral pattern. Lungi provides good ventilation and brings down the heat between legs. A mallu is scared of global warming more than anyone else in the world.

    A lungi/mundu can be worn any time of the day/night. It doubles as blanket at night. It also doubles up as a swing, swimwear, sleeping bag, parachute, facemask while entering/exiting toddy shops, shopping basket and water filter while fishing in ponds and rivers. It also has recreational uses like in ‘Lungi/mundu pulling’, a pastime in households having more than one male member. Lungi pulling competitions are held outside toddy shops all over Kerala during Onam and Vishu. When these lungis are decommissioned from service, they become table cloths. Thus the humble lungi is a cradle to grave appendage.

  • 4. balakrishnan  |  July 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I am a good person. I dont subscribe to such thoughts, Pl dont get me wrong, though I read it many times still and not deleted it.

  • 5. shafalipaarijaat  |  July 19, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Hi Narayanan,

    Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.
    I loved this post. You are a wonderful writer:) I am now off to read the other posts on this enchanting blog.


  • 6. faizan  |  July 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    A well written article enjoyed reading it..

    The saree indeed is an attire which is captivating in elegance yet distinct in demeanour, stately and dignified yet sublimely sensuous.

  • 7. Rubi  |  July 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    You have nicely portrayed this Indian garment, that sadly is considered “uncool” by women from various age-groups in the city. Worn in any style, this garment definitely makes woman look better and elegant!

  • 8. chapter18  |  July 25, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for the comments. Saree has the sweep to be an international attire.

  • 9. Sari Tales « Sweet Somethings  |  July 25, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    […] July 25, 2010 by rekhabaala This was inspired by this. […]

  • 10. rekhabaala  |  July 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Inspired by this, I have written my own ‘Sari Tales’ 🙂

  • 11. Viv  |  September 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    You have made me want to wear a saree….

  • 12. Bea Turvey apprentice author and witch  |  January 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I know, this was posted ages ago, but I just wanted to say that I am one of those ladies who has shrugged off her pallu and stepped out of her ghagra to don the western equivalent of office wear. The fact that I live in the west does not excuse me, but the atrocious weather does. However, I am now determined to increase my sari-wearing days during the summer months when the freezing wind, rain and snow will be on holiday. What my pupils will think of this I cannot wait to find out. So far they have only seen me thus attired during Diwali, Eid and Christmas and then in the more flamboyant versions with glittering sequins, bright colours and with accompanying jewels. Their response then should have been enough to encourage me.
    Thank you for your prompt. I have listened.

  • 14. radhikasreflection  |  March 8, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Well written post. Saree is definitely the most elegant drape a woman can carry. While the number of saree wearing women have declined over the years, yet it continues to have a class of its own. Many are reviving it through innovative methods of draping.

  • 15. Vikas Acharya  |  March 8, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    Perfect Write-up, keep it up. Thanks for sharing

  • 16. Shobha Iyer  |  December 5, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Saree….. beautiful write up

  • 17. Ayan Chakraborty  |  May 14, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Beautiful article. Actually , the sari is the only unique garment in the world which doesn’t use pin, buttons or zipper to fit it. It is fitted only with some folds and draped over. Moreover unlike other garments, which is needed to be fitted to be worn, the sari is actually fit to be worn by any one. That’s the beauty. Great writing. 👏👏

    • 18. chapter18  |  May 14, 2020 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks for the comments.

  • 19. Guest post by my daughter | chapter18  |  June 26, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    […] a bit rich coming from someone who dedicated an entire blogpost to the saree (you can read that: After months of bickering he finally started writing consistently in January of 2019. And thanks […]

  • 20. Shobha Iyer  |  March 9, 2021 at 8:09 pm


  • 22. debjani6ghosh  |  March 10, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    Excellent article. You are right. No other garment looks more elegant on an Indian woman.

    • 23. chapter18  |  March 11, 2021 at 6:46 am

      Thanks…and don’t forget to drape in the saree…

  • 24. Rehan Kazi  |  March 9, 2022 at 12:00 am

    A woman looks most beautiful in a saree.

  • 25. Sadje  |  March 9, 2022 at 6:50 am

    Sari is such a graceful dress.


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