Sarees are popular clothing for women, girls, and sometimes men in southeast Asian countries. Women in each country wear sarees in different styles, colors, and parts of their daily lives, so do women in southeast Asia wear saree as formal wear? And in which countries are sarees used for both daily life and formal life?
Saree is considered formal wear in many southeastern Asian countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Alternatively, some women will wear sarees in day-to-day life depending on their country, religion, and social class.
In this article, you will learn how women wear sarees in different countries. This includes which countries wear sarees formally. It will also discuss the history of sarees and offers some books and videos if you’d like to continue your research.
How Formal Are Sarees?
A saree or sari is a popular type of clothing in Southeast Asia, specifically in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Many women will wear this colorful piece of clothing to office on a daily basis as well as on special occasions. They commonly drape them over one shoulder and tie them around their waist. This style is called the Nivi drape; however, there are more than eighty ways that people have worn and styled their sarees over their history.
The formality of a saree can differ by generation as well. For example, many older women will wear sarees, including in the house, at significant events like weddings and work. On the other hand, younger generations tend to wear sarees as formal wear to pirates and weddings.
In Hindu families, teenage girls will have a formal ceremony where they celebrate becoming a woman. At this ceremony, the girl will wear a saree to symbolize their womanhood.
The cost of sarees depends on the style and the material. The most simple sarees will only cost a few dollars, but the finest sarees can cost thousands of dollars. These costly sarees cost so much because of the detailed stitching, expensive fabric and stones, and the colorful beading.
How Women Wear Sarees in Different Countries
People in different countries wear their sarees in various styles and different settings.
In Sri Lanka, women wear sarees nearly all the time. Many wear them to work and at home because they are comfortable and considered their work uniform.
Like Sri Lanka, women in Bangladesh wear sarees all the time, and it is even the official national attire for women. Both women and young girls wear sarees as formal wear. However, a lot of women now wear different clothing to work instead of a saree. But they still wear them at home and formal events.
In India, women wear sarees differently in the country’s various areas. But a primary reason that people wear them everywhere is that they are suitable for the hot climate.
Sarees have so many styles, including wearing them at a short length to stay cool. On the other hand, they can be worn long with thick fabric or multiple layers to keep women warm in the cooler seasons.
Some of the sarees in India are bright and silk, whereas others are very colorful, similar to what women would wear in the past.
In Pakistan, women wear sarees as formal wear to special events, but women have begun wearing more casual clothing daily. Upper-class women wear sarees more often than other women since they attend more formal events and need more formal wear like sarees.
Foreigners visiting southeast Asia wear a traditional saree. It is not considered offensive or rude to the local culture. It is actually the opposite. The saree is considered honorable, and the locals will be glad that visitors to their country are honoring an important tradition.
History of the Saree
Historians have dated the Saree back as far as 3000 BC, making it more than five thousand years old. They started being popular in India once cotton was farmed and later silk. Even though the Saree is thousands of years old, it has not changed much over the years. The look and style have not changed, but the materials and intricacy have.
The word Saree also spelled Sari or Shari, derives from the word swastika. It means women’s attire in old Buddist text.
The size of sarees has changed over the years, but currently, they are usually five meters, or nearly sixteen and a half feet long. Currently and in the past, they can be stitched or not stitched, depending on the style. The sarees also rely on the region that the women wear them and their formality.
If the saree is a large drape piece, a woman will often wear it with two matching or complementary pieces. One piece is a skirt worn under the saree to cover the legs and lower body; the other piece is a blouse worn under the saree drape. These layers keep the wearer warm and modestly covered, essential in many religions and countries where the saree is worn.
Learn More About Sarees and When To Wear Them
If you want to know more about sarees, books are a great way to learn about them and their history. One book is called The Sari by Linda Lynton. It is all about different styles of sarees, including their history, the ways to wear them, how color is used, and much more!
There is also another book called Saris: History and Beyond by Rta Kapur Chishti. It is a beautifully illustrated book with everything you would ever need to know about sarees and more. It includes the history of sarees and all the different ways to wear them. In the book, you will also learn the importance of the saree in different regions, including how the saree is a formal piece of clothing.
This video from Tia Bhuva on YouTube will show you how to wear a saree, specifically the popular Nivi style. It is an excellent demonstration for beginners who have never worn a saree before and would like to learn how:
The final step in learning about sarees is to own one, especially after you’ve watched how to wear one in the video above. If you have an event coming up and you want to wear a saree as your formal wear, Amazon.com has some great and beautiful options for you to choose from.
- The Sourbh Women’s Silk Blend Party Sari with Blouse is perfect for parties, weddings, and any other event where you would like to wear a Saree. This Saree comes in nine different colors and is machine washable, making it easy for you to wear to multiple events with not a lot of care needed.
- The Nivah Fashion Women’s Satin Embroidery Saree with Unstitched Blouse is another great option if you want to purchase a saree. This one is specifically made for the popular Nivah style and comes in eight different colors.
Women wear sarees as formal wear, but they also wear them as daily clothing or even a work uniform. It often depends on what region you are in. Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, or the many other areas of India have varied uses of sari. The formality of a saree can also depend on the piece’s style, color, and material.
There are more than eighty ways to style a saree. They range in price from a few dollars to thousands. Additionally, the fabric and materials used to make and design the saree vary. This explains why some women wear sarees for formal use, and others do not.