Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Most Timeless Dress in History

There is one notable garment revered as the longest running “in fashion” item in the history of the feminine world. Women have been wearing them since before Christ walked on the Earth. The sari.

After reading this description of the sari, it would seem the sari is the ultimate feminine garment:
"The sari, it is said, was born on the loom of a fanciful weaver. He dreamt of Woman. The shimmer of her tears. The drape of her tumbling hair. The colors of her many moods. The softness of her touch. All these he wove together. He couldn't stop. He wove for many yards. And when he was done, the story goes, he sat back and smiled and smiled and smiled."

It's true. The sari drapes and flatters the feminine figure like no other dress can. Often made of silk or cotton, this flowing garment consists of a long piece of cloth about 1 meter wide and a little over 5 meters long. It is worn over a tight-fitting blouse (a choli) and a long skirt of same color as the sari. The pallu, or the end of the sari that is draped over the shoulder, is often embroidered and embellished with jewels.

A modern salwar kameez
The care that goes into the sari is astounding. Often the beads and embroidery is hand-stitched to the fabric before it is even cut out! As I found myself wandering through the maze of factory-manufactured clothing at the mall the other day, I appreciate this beautiful timeless garment and the time and quality reflected in its every pleat. Most of the fashions that hang on the racks today will be considered "out of date" 6 months or a year from now. The beautifully simple sari flatters every shape while today's styles leave the poor wearer tugging and adjusting.

After Islamic invasions, the Persian influence in Indian culture brought about the popularity of the salwar kameez as a popular clothing choice for women. It consisted of pants and a long tunic. While this style is still common among Indian women, unstitched fabrics are considered sacred in Indian culture, and even today women wear --not the salwar kameez-- but the sari to religious functions. 

The many different ways to wear the sari are partly based on fashion and partly based on denoting the region of India where the wearer is from.
 "The sari's radiance, vigor & variety, produced by a single straight length of cloth, should give us in the West pause & make us think twice about the zipper, the dart, & the shoulder pad." ~ Naveen Patnaik


  1. They're so gorgeous! Where can I get one?

  2. Mary, check resale shops in neighborhoods with a lot of Indian residents! There's one by me, and they are so much fun to try on (and wear to costume parties!). :)