How to Wear Butterfly Saris

by William McCoy

A butterfly sari, or saree, is a traditional outfit worn by Indian women. Known for being simple, yet beautiful, the sari is a long piece of fabric that is wrapped around the woman in a specific way. Saris come in many colors and patterns, and wearing a sari correctly is considered an art. There are many ways to wear them, but the Nivi style is considered the most popular. In this style, a long piece of the sari drapes over the woman's back, resembling a butterfly wing.

Items you will need

  • Blouse
  • Skirt
Step 1

Dress in a short, tight blouse and long skirt. The blouse should have short sleeves and end immediately below the bust. The skirt should be full-length, stopping right at the floor.

Step 2

Hold the sari in front of you with its plain end level with your waist. Saris often have elaborate patterns or beading at one end -- this is the end that should be at your feet.

Step 3

Tuck the plain end of the sari into your skirt around the length of your entire waist, starting and ending at your right hip. Tuck it in deep enough that the bottom edge of the sari is just touching the floor. Once you have wrapped it once around your waist, you’ll have several feet left over.

Step 4

Begin to make pleats in the excess sari, working from your body outward. The pleats should each be roughly five inches wide. An easy way to make and hold the pleats is to simply fold each 5-inch section back so you can hold them all in one hand.

Step 5

Make between seven and 10 pleats, or as many as the excess sari dictates. Hold them together, ensuring they are even in size.

Step 6

Tuck the pile of pleats into the waist of the sari between your navel and left hip.

Step 7

Take the remaining length of the sari, wrap it around your waist loosely and wind it over your left shoulder. Its tip should hang down your back. This draped end of the sari loosely resembles the wing of a butterfly.


  • Attach the piece of the sari over your shoulder, called the “pallu" end, to your blouse with a safety pin, if desired. This will prevent it from sliding off your shoulder.

Photo Credits

  • Taran Rai/Demand Media

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.