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Queen of drapes

Did you know there are over 50 ways to drape a sari? Divya Kumar takes tips from Mumbai-based designer Shaina N. C.



Gunning for the Guinness Shaina N. C. with a model displaying one of her styles

If you thought there were just a handful of ways a sari could be worn, think again. Mumbai-based designer Shaina N. C. is famous for her 54 — count them, 54! — ways of draping a sari, and she was in Chennai recently to give a demonstratio n for the women of the Duchess Club at the Savera Hotel.

The ‘Queen of Drapes’, as she’s called, started out by busting a few sari myths. “There’s no reason why saris must be worn over a petticoat — I’m wearing mine over trousers,” she said, indicating the stylish drape she was sporting herself. “There’s no set rules — take your pleats to the side or over the hip, wear the pallav like a dupatta or try a double or triple sari.”

Double or triple sari? That’s when you wear, believe it or not, two or three entire saris at the same time. And you thought managing one was hard. The demonstration of the double sari — 12 whole yards of material — was one of the trickier ones, which came with a “You probably shouldn’t try and do this by yourself at home” warning from Shaina. Others ranged from the sexy ‘sarong’ sari with a gorgeous gold choli to the elegant ‘dupatta’ sari with the pallav hanging in graceful folds across the front.

“You can experiment with different styles that hide your bulges and flaws, and flatter your figure,” she said, as she showed drape after drape in quick succession on club members. She was probably glad for the practice she got during the demonstration — the 34-year-old is gunning for the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of sari drapes and the fastest draping of a sari.

She also had something for younger women or girls who find handling a sari daunting — the two-piece ‘concept’ sari that’s stitched in all the right places and guaranteed not to come apart. “You can also try a net sari with a funky choli over jeans or churidhar or tapered skirt,” she said.

But it’s really all about the choli, according to Shaina. “Too many Indian women wear gorgeous saris with very ordinary blouses,” she said. “The choli is as important, if not more than the sari itself, to the overall look, so the next time you wear a sari, pay attention to the blouse you pick.”

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