The 6-yard drape, in or out?: THE INDIAN sari is apparently 5000 years old! Dress patterns keep changing almost everyday, but the sari has somehow managed to stay, in one form or the other, because most women in rural India remain unaffected by the changing fashion trends, or for that matter don't even go by what is comfortable for them. Jyotsna Kamat, in her essay on the sari, calls it versatile "because it could be worn as shorts, trousers, flowing gown-like or convenient skirt-wise — all without a single stitch!" And so, the seamless sari has survived, even when there is a large group that argues that the sari is on its way out.
The banking and insurance sector has a lot of women in saris. According to them, saris are for office wear and salwars are more of home and casual wear. In hospitals and private health clinics, doctors prefer to wear a sari so as to instil confidence in patients. However, there are young doctors who are seen in salwars as they feel saris are cumbersome.
In a salwar, body flab is concealed. Even when a salwar is crumpled, it can pass off as casual wear. But saris keep women conscious of their figure, according to models. While salwars are popular with working women, they wear saris on formal occasions, says Revathi H.R., who works for aeronautical agency. But in terms of affordability, the saris come in a range of prices, from as reasonable as Rs. 50 to the exorbitantly priced ones. Of course, one cannot get a salwar for Rs. 50! There is a section of women who favour the salwar strongly and say that it is easier to maintain them. The argument does not stop here, there are women who oppose this and give 100 marks to the cotton sari, even though it requires tough maintenance.
As an afterthought, maybe the sari is not so unpopular after all. Didn't Mandira Bedi (and her non-blouses!) get so many viewers glued to the television?