Ah, the saree. 6 yards of elegance draped, pleated and pinned so beautifully to accentuate the curves of a woman. With hashtags like #keepcalmandsareeon and #sareenotsorry floating around social media, everyone is looking for ways to stand out in their sarees these days. Here’s a list of 8 ways to stand out in your sarees, none of which will make the neighbour aunty gossip about the type of girl you are. Not that it should matter, even if she does.

1Goodbye saree blouses, hello crop tops!

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The saree x crop top phenomenon has been around for a while, and yet it isn’t as popular as one might expect. Why crop tops? For one thing, they’re stretchy, so if you gain or lose weight, there’s no need to go to the tailor to get that fixed. Also, crop tops can be bought from the comfort of our office cubicles. Zero hassle! Of course, it takes a little effort to match the colours. Remember, all that matters is that YOU like the combination!

2Shirt also can

Regular t-shirts, collared shirts, or even blouses can be paired with the saree. Fashion week in India shows us runways peppered with models strutting in sarees paired with shirts and vests. This really begs the question as to why we are so hesitant to do this here, when we are actually showing less skin than we would with a normal saree blouse.

3No saree? No issue!

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Sarees in Malaysia aren’t cheap. The ones that are actually affordable often look gaudy and are difficult to drape. What do we do about this? Walk into the nearest Kamdar, Nagoya Jakel, or any textile store, look for material material that you like, and buy 5.5 meters of it! You might not have gold brocade on the mundhani, nor a border, but these work very well for casual outings, or visits to places of worship. If you’re extra rajin, get some coloured pom poms and sew them onto the edge of the mundhani! Pair this with a crop top and you’ll be astounded by the results!

4Cancan saree elegance

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The cancan saree is all the rage now. It is basically an A-line skirt with loads of ruffles or netting underneath, so the skirt looks poufy, resembling those worn in the 1980’s western saloons. The saree is so versatile that it can be draped around this cancan skirt (or similar lehenga skirt) to create a beautiful outfit that can be used for any event, really. It can emulate a half saree, or stay true to the lehenga theme and act as a shawl. The possibilities are endless.

5Pair it with a pair of pants

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Okay, at first we weren’t impressed by this idea too. But seeing how flattering the drape can be left us speechless. A simple YouTube search will yield many videos on how to drape a saree with a pair of jeans, pants or leggings. A pair of heels compliments the look, but if you’d rather wear flats, go for it!

6Belt it out

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How many of us use waist chains for our sarees? They’re an incredible South Asian accessory, but why not level up and cinch your saree with a belt instead? Desginers like Masaba Gupta have even used corsets in place of waist chains. A plain belt will suffice to complete the look, and make the wearer stand out in her saree.

7Knotty saree

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Ugh, the dreaded mundhani pleating. For those of us who are in a rush but would like to make a fashion statement, we have a solution for you. Knot that mundhani! Once the knot is secured with a safety pin, you’ll be giving off one of those glamorous, modish one shoulder looks!

8The saree jumpsuit/dress

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The saree jumpsuit/dress might be a little out there, solely because not many people are using it for events which one would normally use a saree to. This style of draping is surprisingly easy, with the right type of saree, of course.

We reiterate, YouTube is a lifesaver when it comes to draping tutorials, even for the jumpsuit saree. While everyone else is on the romper craze, why not create your own ethnic romper? Not only is it stylish, you can rest assured that you’ll stand out in a saree jumpsuit!

Let’s get one thing straight. There is no rule saying that sarees can only be worn for religious events and receptions. They are beautiful garments, and it would be a shame to let them just collect dust in your wardrobe until the next wedding.

Let’s normalize wearing a saree, and wear them to work, on a regular day out or even to the movies. Forget about what people will say, and if they will stare. People will do that, no matter what you wear! Trouble draping it yourself? We have three words for you; Youtube, practice, practice!