One of the most popular women wear in India is the saree, which is traditionally an unstitched dress with a fitted bodice and wide skirt. Off-white, green, brown, and blue are some of the most common shades for sarees. The number 37 yards or 36 meters is deemed the ideal length for a saree.
Sarees are used primarily by women from South India. They are typically worn during special occasions like weddings or parties. However, they can also be worn to other festivities like festivals or religious functions where women from this region traditionally wore long colorful clothes.
There are different sarees, from cotton, fiber, silk, and georgette to chiffon, crepe, and muslin. The type of sari that you buy essentially depends on your requirements.
Length of saree
A saree worn by a lady should be long enough to cover her ankles when she is seated. The length depends on your requirement, but in general, a saree should be twice the length of your height. This means if a lady is 5 feet tall, then the ideal saree length for her should be 10 feet long. If a saree is shorter than this, it becomes challenging to drape it.
Width of saree
The broadness of a saree depends on how you want to wear the sari. If you’re going to wear it like the traditional Chennai sari, you will have to buy one with at least six inches of breadth. However, if you’re going to wear the sari like in Bengal or Orissa, you need a narrower saree with three or four inches of breadth.
Theory behind saree length
Since the ideal saree length is 36 yards, any saree shorter than this in a particular region would become impractical. In other words, if you are 5 feet tall and want a saree of length 10 yards (36 inches), then you cannot wear it in Tamilnadu. If you wish to wear it in Kerala, then your saree should be at least 7 inches shorter. The concept of ‘ideal’ has been counterintuitively applied by generations of brides who often wish to wear a very long sari. At the same time, their mother wants her daughter to adhere to regionally accepted standards.
These contradictory desires of mothers and daughters can be resolved when aspiring brides are aware of the practicalities of (i) idealized versus practical saree lengths and (ii) regionally accepted standards.
What is the Standard Saree and Pallu Length?
The standard sari length in India is 36 yards. However, it has become fashionable in the past few years to have even shorter sarees than this. The length is usually 20–25 inches or a little more than 6 feet.
This length is generally used in a saree for a bride who wants to adhere to the ‘Hindu ideal.’ A lot of brides throughout India share this wish. However, this length is not unusual in bridal stores.
The widening of these standard saris has also become an interesting fashion trend. There are ‘slightly’ widened sleeves with no pleats at the top in some sarees, which can be called ‘sarung,’ and some ‘slightly’ wider pallu-chunni combinations with no pleats the pallu.
Various Types of Sarees and Their Lengths
It is widely believed that different regions have different standards for sari lengths. But it is not true. In Tamilnadu, there are two types of sarees: Kokku and Kari-kothu. These two types differ by a few inches making the bewildering variation in saree lengths a myth.
The “Kokku” Saree
A “kokku” sari is similar to the saree used in western countries. It has a pocket-less bodice with an extended waistband called chunni on top. It features ‘kolhapuri’ draping, which means multiple sari folds are draped over each other at intervals of one inch (1″).
The “Kari Kothu” sari
A “Kari-kothu” sari has a bodice like that of a Kokku saree, but it does not have the chunni. The long waistband is folded over to form pleats and placed on the hips using pins or buttons.
Anthropomorphic studies in 12 populations covering four south Indian states show that at least in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, the variation in preferred saree length is only between 5–6 inches. Preference for an ideal saree length (about 36 yards) was more significant than any observed difference in mean sizes across these four states.
The main characteristic of Kanjivaram sarees is the intricate Kantha sari work. The saree is usually 9–10 yards long, and only handlooms in the region offer these sarees.
Regular Saree – 5.5 meters
When a saree is too short, it is called a “pallu,” and the step to make the pallu longer is called “sarika.” In Andhra Pradesh, this takes place before the “kothur.” The standard length for a saree in Andhra Pradesh is 5.5 meters. The majority of women (over 80%) wear sarees over 5.5 meters long.
The sambalpuri saree is a special type of sari made in the regions of Uravakonda, Gajapathinagaram, and Puttur. The characteristic feature of this type of sari is that the pallu part is wider than usual and wears like a “sarong” while the skirt part (chamllu) is extremely wide. Its length is approx. 6 meters.
The sambalpuri “Karnataka saree” has an elaborate Kantha (hand-woven cloth) work on it. This work combines with an embroidered geometric design executed by meenakari (embroidery). Its length is approx. 6.5 meters.
This type of sari is found in the Kongu Nadu region of Tamil Nadu and is usually much longer than other types of saris. This long length is that this type of work can only be executed by the womenfolk who are in a secluded area of Kovai Nadu. The length of these saris is approximately 8 meters (26 feet).
This type of saree is worn predominantly by women belonging to the Kalinga tribe, who are also known as the “Kadambas.” The name Kadamba comes from an ancient community that settled in the Guntur district.
Women of the Kalinga tribe usually wear the Kadamba saree. The feature of this saree is at least 10 meters (32 feet) long.
The Guntur saree is a special type of sari made in the region of Guntur. This type of sari is usually 7–8 meters long.
The length of a saree can also be measured in yards or meters, which varies from place to place and region to region in India.
A saree’s length is an important factor that needs to be considered when buying a sari, especially if the saree is for a special occasion, for example, a wedding. The cultural context in which the saree is worn can also affect how long the sari should be.
Saree length and pallu size vary according to the region and size of the waist. However, it has become fashionable in the last few years to have short sarees. Nowadays, most women prefer straightforward sarees (5–6 feet) as they are cheaper and easier to maintain than longer ones.