shopping for a sari

How can you come to India and not buy a sari? I didn’t buy just one sari either, in fact I bought sari’s for all the women in my family. I love the colours of the fabric and the elegant drape across the body. Even though Western clothing is seeping through India (most of our clothing is made there!) the sari is still worn by most women especially in more traditional places such as Rajasthan.

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I have come up with a guide to help you buy one of these beautiful garments:

1. First find a sari shop. There were so many in Kolkata it just became which one to choose from.

2. Ask a local to help you. We met a very friendly guy called Chunda and his sister and they offered to come with us.

3. Pick your fabric. I wanted a silk sari with lots of detail whereas Lydia wanted heavier fabric.

4. Decide upon the colour. There are so many beautiful colours it will be very tough deciding which one. I went for a pink, green and blue.

5. Try it on! This is the most fun and where our help came in. Chunda’s sister dresses each one of us, wrapping it correctly and twisting the waistband to hold it in place. We gradually learnt how to do this ourselves.

6. Haggle! The shopkeepers expect you to haggle this is why they offer such a high place to begin. I paid 1000 rupees each for my silk saris whereas Fran paid 300 rupees for her cotton South Indian sari.

7. Buy a blouse. We went to a little market to buy the little top worn underneath. Hold your sari so you can match the colours. Remember to try it on, lots of the sari tops are rather small!

8. Buy a petticoat. This is worn underneath as a skirt which you can use to tuck your sari into to keep it in place.

9. Thank your help. We had such a lovely time with Chunda and his sister. As a thank you we bought her a new sari and she was so grateful.

10. Now wear your sari! We wore our saris so many times in India because why not?! Embrace the culture, embrace the fashion and the Indians will love you. We had so many Indian women come over to us and redress us their way of wearing a sari. We just let them and found it opened up so many interesting conversations with women who otherwise may not speak to you.

Tips!

  • Make sure you leave space in your bag….
  • You can buy second hand sari’s cheap! The market near the Clock Tower in Jodpur is home to hundreds of second hand saris for incredibly cheap prices. You still have to haggle but this is so much fun. I bought a beautiful green sari for 100 rupees which I wore as a sarong for the rest of my travels.
  • If you’re heading South you will still be able to buy sari’s but they are not as common in the touristy areas such as Goa. I found a little stall run by an old lady in Anjuna Market but remember, prices will be higher.

Buying our first sari’s in Kolkata

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