Unisex clothing has been around for a long time though what counts as Unisex clothing has changed during the decades. Trousers, for example, were considered male clothing up until the Women’s Movement, but now, many people accept that men and women can wear whatever they want. With that said, can men wear sarees?
Men can wear sarees if they want. Today, many men wear “female” sarees because they feel comfortable doing so. However, men have a specific form of saree called the dhoti. Dhotis, interestingly enough, seem to have been forgotten by time.
People often think of the saree as a strictly feminine clothing piece, but according to many people, it can be worn by men too. If you want to know if sarees are genuinely unisex clothing, keep reading.
So, Can Men Wear Sarees?
The simple answer would be that, yes, men can wear sarees. People can wear pretty much whatever they want as long as it’s not indecent or somehow harmful; even then, what counts as “indecent” or “harmful” may differ according to different regions and laws.
The complicated answer is everyone has an opinion on how other people can dress. Some people feel that men can wear sarees if they want. Other folks think that if a man wants to wear a saree, he should do it in the privacy of his own home. At this point, you may also suspect some people feel, no, a man shouldn’t attempt to wear a saree.
If you were to ask, “Do you think a man can wear a saree?” you would get a wide range of answers. Responses may range from “Only if he were famous” to “Everyone should be able to wear what they want.” People take gender and sexuality seriously, and clothing (subjectively) plays a big part in both.
Do Men Like To Wear Sarees?
Some men do enjoy wearing sarees. One thing we’d like to clarify right away is that clothing doesn’t have to equate to gender or sexuality. We mean that if a man wants to wear a “feminine” outfit, it can be because he wants to, and that’s it. Clothes don’t have to connect to people’s genders or sexualities.
With that out of the way, we’ll move on. Many men enjoy wearing, collecting, and modeling sarees. One man, in particular, Himanshu Verma, is enthusiastic when it comes to managing and donning sarees. Himanshu Verma, also known as the “Saree Man,” is an art curator from Jaipur who can usually be seen kitted out in the elegant garment.
Himanshu has such a fondness for sarees that he hosts the annual Saree Festival, which is an event that showcases different kinds of sarees. The Saree Man has done a few interviews, and in them, he talks about the Saree Festival and his perspective on the apparel.
For the past five years, the Saree Festival has displayed and demonstrated various kinds of sarees and how they’re draped. Himanshu says that he began wearing sarees in 2006 as a way of reinterpreting masculinity with Red Earth. Red Earth, if you’re curious, is an organization that promotes Indian culture and art.
The curator says that he’d borrowed the saree from his mother and that the design was feminine. He’d been studying and found that men and women wore two and three-piece variations before becoming the version we know today.
Is There a Saree Variation for Men?
The dhoti or mardani (or panche) is a saree that is explicitly menswear (today, women wear them too). Dhotis are part of one of many national garbs from the Indian subcontinent, like sarees. They are trousers made of a 15-foot (4.5 meters) long rectangle cloth wrapped around the legs and tied off in the front or back.
You can wear a dhoti casually if you want. Causal dhotis come in many colors, while silken dhotis have elaborately stitched zardozi (patterns made of gold or silver thread). Men reserve these silk trousers for ceremonial purposes.
While we’re on a roll, we may as well discuss the lungi. A lungi or Tahband is a men’s skirt – yes, like a kilt – worn around the waist. Men wear lungis in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Lungis are worn in Thailand and Burma too, but they’re called longyi in those regions.
You’d typically see lungi being worn during hot, humid nights when wearing pants is uncomfortable. People consider the skirt as more casual wear than dhotis, which are for more formal appearances.
Are There Different Ways for Men To Wear Sarees?
Many men enjoy wearing sarees now, and there will likely be many more in the future. In many cases, men will use a saree from their mother and drape it around their shoulders the way Himanshu Verma did. Some men prefer to wrap the long cloth over their everyday clothes, and some like wearing the blouse and petticoat. Some men in the latter category only wear the complete ensemble at home, however.
If you’re looking for more fashion-conscious ways to style your sarees, though, we’ve got a few good tips and tricks you can try.
Wear Your Saree as a Dupatta
A dupatta is a shawl commonly worn by women on the Indian subcontinent as part of their shalwar kameez, a pair of loose trousers, and a tunic or shirt, respectively. You can wear a dupatta in plenty of ways. Tradition dictates that you’d drape a dupatta around the shoulders and head, but you can use it like a cape around the torso too.
It’s not uncommon for men to pair the dupatta with kurta pajamas. A Kurta is a long-sleeved shirt with button-up plackets (slits at the shirt neck that allow for easy removal). Pajamas, in this case, are pants. To wear your dupatta with kurta pajamas, you with a corner of the cloth at the left side of your waist, and pin it.
Next, you would continue to wrap it around until you reach the left backside of your waist. Here is where you fold the dupatta into eight pleats and wrap it across your left shoulder. The final step should be pinning it to the shoulder.
Wear Your Saree With a Blazer
Folding sarees into dhoti pants is a bit too complicated to explain in full detail, so I’ve taken the liberty to link to a video that will show you what to do. Once you’ve got your trousers made, all you’ve got to do is add a stylish blazer (or another kind of jacket), and you’ve got a perfect mix of modern and traditional.
A Few Helpful Tips
Some sarees weigh a lot due to being embroidered from heavy fabric. You will be walking around with this garment on, so choose sarees made from light materials like silk or georgette instead. Sarees look best with minimal accessories regardless of gender, and select a contrasting color for your kurta; the contrast will look appealing.
It’s OK if a man wants to wear a saree, but there will be people who have some not-so-nice things to say about it. Unfortunately, clothing is more political than many people would like, so you may as well wear what you want. Men choose between the “feminine” traditional saree or the “masculine” dhoti pants and every variation of saree between them.
People like the Saree Man, Himanshu Verma have made sarees an integral part of their lives. Other men see sarees as cutting-edge fashion, and many more guys wear sarees as casual and comfort wear.