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To drape a saree, you need two essential accessories, a blouse and a matching petticoat (underskirt).

Choli/blouse:
Along with the saree is a choli, the tightly fitted, short blouse worn with the saree. The choli evolved as a form of clothing in 10th century AD and the first cholis were only front covering; the back was always bare. Bodices of this type are still common in the state of Rajasthan.

The choli is a tight fitting item of clothing, and adds a fashion statement to the saree. The sleeve length travels from full sleeves to half sleeves to sleeveless over a period of time.

Cholis are often made of cotton or silk cloth and may or may not include a collar and sleeves. They are generally more tailored than simple knit tops, and may contain "feminine" details such as ruffles or embroidered decorations.

Cholis have buttons reversed from that of a men's shirts. That is, the buttons are normally on the wearer's left-hand and the buttonholes are on the right. The reasons for this are unclear, however. Some suggest this custom was introduced by launderers so they could distinguish between women's and men's shirts, and could thus charge more for women's blouses, supposing women are more gullible and submissive. Another theory suggests that the tradition arose in the Middle Ages when one manner of manifesting wealth was by the number of buttons one wore. Female servants were in charge of buttoning their mistress's gowns (since the buttons were usually in the back). Tiring of attempting to button the buttons backwards, they started reversing the direction of the buttons, therefore, easing their jobs considerably.

A choli reveals more than it conceals. Its cut, color and the way it is worn would tell you about whether the woman is casual, carefree, bold, reticent or orthodox. It is a dead giveaway of a woman’s attitude and personality.

The choli (blouse) has undergone a sea change. There are sleeveless blouses, spaghetti straps, and bell sleeves. You get them in all the bright shades. But reds, maroons, wine red and whites are more in demand with attractive saree these days. The work that is done on the cholis is elaborate and very intricate, at times. Zardozi, in-laid with stones, antique and gold work or sequins on them form part of the embroidery. When it is a part of a bridal collection there is lavish use of gold and antique threads.

The choli (blouse) has undergone a sea change. There are sleeveless blouses, spaghetti straps, and bell sleeves. You get them in all the bright shades. But reds, maroons, wine red and whites are more in demand with attractive saree these days. The work that is done on the cholis is elaborate and very intricate, at times. Zardozi, in-laid with stones, antique and gold work or sequins on them form part of the embroidery. When it is a part of a bridal collection there is lavish use of gold and antique threads.

blouse design

Style-wise, the perennial favorites are the short-sleeved numbers and wrap-arounds, with or without straps. Blouses with prominent buttons at the back are equally popular. Also making strong statements are blouses with long sleeves in transparent chiffon or lace. Besides, there are off-shoulder versions as well as those held up with strings and lycra blouses for a casual, westernized look.

The fabrics used for designer blouses are mostly crepes, georgettes, silk and satin. Crepes are currently high in demand.

Designer cholis may have a sequins and beads work. Designer blouse with rich chikan embroidery in colored thread all over is especially designed for ceremonies. A designer blouses may also have a embroidery work in gold and bronze threads. Designer blouses have sleeves and neck cut in different designs.

saree cholis are worn quite snug and fitted in varying lengths, necklines and sleeves. All saree blouse should be created with a full opening either in the front or the back. They have to fit snugly like a corset. saree fabric for blouses included with sarees are only 1 yard x 44".

Little wonder, cholis are no longer treated as mere decorative garments. As designer Suneet Verma puts it: "It is a statement of a woman’s sense of freedom, an expression of female vanity and, most importantly, a celebration of feminine grace."

 
Some saree blouse designs are shown below
saree blouses
Petticoat/ Underskirt:
There is a petticoat , or a slip, which is worn under the saree that holds the saree in place. A petticoat is a skirt that is essentially worn under the saree.

Petticoat is a waist to floor garment very similar to a lehenga or skirt, which is tied with the help of string or naada at the waist. A saree is wrapped over a petticoat. Petticoats are often made of cotton or polyester cloth. Usually a petticoat is of the matching color with saree. The saree is incomplete without a petticoat. The petticoat can be many in different varieties. They MUST have a firm waistband. Elastic will not do. One step on the petticoat and down comes the saree. The modern Indian petticoat is reminiscent to a skirt made up of many A-line panels. This has the advantage of giving a slim silhouette and using less fabric. The other petticoat is 4 yards of 45 wide fabric gathered onto a 3-inch wide waistband. This is the one which can be used for hot weather or when you need to walk a lot. This gives a greater movement and more air movement.


The Blouse Petticoat is a must when wearing a saree and is the key to the overall shape of the saree.