For some official events here in Nepal wearing a sari is a must for all the invited women including foreigners. I love sari, it is such a feminine, elegant and undoubtedly beautiful variant of traditional Indian dress. Literally speaking the sari is just a piece of fabric of about 4-8 m long and about 120 cm wide. And it is amazing that by draping it around the body it can be transformed into such a beautiful item of women's clothing. Of course, draping a sari requires experience and skills. And that is exactly what I lack. Theoretically I know how to drape it but practically it just doesn't work that smoothly and I have to re-drape it again and again. As a result draping a sari takes so much time for me. And I get tired and often annoyed in the process. But the final look is worth all the effort I guess.
The commonly known and popular nowadays way of draping a sari (most of the fabric is pleated at the waist and then wound round to make a skirt with the remaining few yards swept across the upper part of the body covering the left shoulder and the end hanging down the back) is called the nivi style and was actually adopted in most regions not that long ago - in the 1920s-1930s. It became so widely spread that many people are not even aware that there are dozens of other ways to drape a sari. Different regions, ethnic and tribal groups all have their own sari styles and draping methods. One of the most unusual and complex ways is the kachchha style when saris are draped to look and function like a pair of trousers. This style requires the longest piece of fabric, 8-10 m.
This silk handwoven sari costs around 100 000$ and it is one of the most expensive saris. Its endpiece depicts "Lady Musicians" painting by Raja Ravi Verma. It is embellished with gold, diamonds, platinum, silver, rubies, emeralds, yellow sapphires, blue sapphires, cat's eye, topazes, pearls and corals. Photo source
It is not precisely known how old the sari is. One of the earliest depictions of a sari-like drape dates back to about 100 BC. Many sculptures of 50BC - 300AD period show a variety of different sari draping styles. And isn't it amazing that today, so many centuries later, the sari still exists, untouched by historical events and global fashion.