Sarees are evergreen and timeless. It’s enchanting to see unstitched, seamless fabric turn into a gorgeous ensemble, each time a saree is draped. Pallu – the loose end of a saree – generally draped over shoulder/s – is integral in saree drape and design.
Starting where the pleats end, the pallu finds its meandering, luxuriant way from the hip-area to the shoulders – sensuously and gracefully covering the mid-riff and bosom. In the process, the whole length and breadth of the pallu is prominently visible. No wonder, special attention is paid to pallu designs, elements and embellishments. Trendy half and half sarees are entirely based on the concept of designer pallus. Along with the design, its drape is equally important in lending a pallu its beauty.
You may not realize, but the modest pallu has the power to make or break your saree look! With one fell swoop – I mean, a smart tweak – you can take your saree style from traditional to uber chic, or should you want – from dressy to classy or vice versa – by varying pallu drapes. You can look slimmer, taller or add an illusion of weight – with little changes in the way you tie and carry your saree and pallu. And, however much it may suit you – you need not always wear the same pallu style. There is a plenty of scope for experimentation!
To help you break pallu monotony – here, we bring you 18 gorgeous Pallu Drapes (also given in a handy Infographic, you must save for later use) – the saree lover in you must try – to take your saree game to newer, trendier heights –
A. Pleated Pallu Styles
Let’s start with Pleated styles – much-loved, for their ease of carrying. Although, often equated with teachers/hostesses – given its air of formality – a pleated pallu is not always staid and plain Jane.
Many trendy drapes like saree worn over trousers/ leggings thrive on pleated pallu styles. Pleated pallus are easy on novices, and are a boon for women with broad shoulders/ big bosoms. Classic pleated versatile pallus give an illusion of balance and symmetry. Some more advantages of pleated pallus
- Versatile and easy to manage – perfect for office-wear, meetings, long days etc.
- Formal and polished
- Narrow pleated styles keep the focus on blouse – great with designer blouses.
- Shows off your toned mid-riff, derriere or arms. Mermaid-look, anyone?
- Great, if you plan to dance – in a saree.
- Lends a distinct character to your saree.
- Shows off a splendid border design to perfection!
Convinced? If not, let’s start with this classic trend only! Check out these 10 pleated pallu drapes that are sure to encourage you further –
1. Classic Pleated
Smart, prim, versatile and practical, there’s no reason, you should say no to this one. In this one, generally, the pallu pleats are pinned on the left shoulder.
2. Tied Loosely at Waist
Love pleats, but don’t like pulled-on-waist, tight pallu effect? Try this new take – after forming skirt pleats, wrap over hips, but leave the drape around waist loose; make broad pallu pleats and pin on shoulder. Regal one with an old world charm, this is great for women with heavy hips! Good for heavy-weave wedding sarees and handloom sarees. Don’t attempt with flimsy chiffon sarees.
3. Border-width Pleats
Want to show-off a magnificent brocade border or statement, designer one? Keep the border width as the base, when pleating. The resulting pleats will be broader than classic style – in case your saree border is really broad like ones you find in Kanchipuram.
4. Draped around Neck
Standard or narrowly pleated pallu can be simply worn around the neck like a stole. Accessorize with a statement brooch for extra effect. Practical – for winters, when you wear a sweater or coat over your saree. Intelligent – when you want a chic, Bohemian saree look – or wish to show off those chiseled shoulders and upper back.
5. Passed through Blouse
A simple tweak that can look like a million bucks – besides allowing you great room for movement (when you wish to prance and dance around) – provided your blouse is designed in the way that it has a loop/pocket that allows a neatly-pleated pallu to pass through (as in the image). Perfect way to show-off a designer Angarakha blouse – and your majestic upper body.
6. Narrow Pleats (Pinned Severely)
Pleat a pallu – possibly of a plain saree with border – such that resulting pallu width is lesser than your (one) shoulder breadth. Pin tightly on shoulder – and pin the pleats together on the décolletage as well as the bosom area. Pallu resembles a neat belt – showing off your blouse and waist to perfection. Great for sarees where you want the entire focus on the heavily embellished saree body. Not good, if you are uncomfortable showing off your body.
7. Gujarati Seedha Pallu
Much-loved by women of all ages for its pretty feminine charm, this one has a cult status. The drape – that resembles a duppatta drape in a traditional Gujarati chaniya choli (lehenga choli) – is pinned on the right shoulder. Instead of the classic pallu where saree’s loose end falls at the back – here the loose end covers the bosom area (falls in the front). Pretty easy to carry, the basic style has many variations.
8. Short Seedha Pallu
If you can’t carry a waist-baring, looping at mid-riff, classic, flowing seedha pallu – do a primer variation with a pleated, short pallu – falling on the front. This hands-free pallu style is largely preferred by women of mature ages – but that should not stop you from trying it! Try with sarees in firmer, stiffer fabrics like cottons, cotton-silks, tulle, organza saree, raw silk saree, and tussar silk saree.
9. Pleated Bengali-style
Like the ever-loved Gujarati pallu – Bengali pallu drape is also quite popular – when women attempt different saree looks for special occasions like rituals and weddings. Bengali sarees are sought-after during Navratris. Don the pleated Bengali pallu variation, with pleats nicely pinned on shoulders – to channel culture yet dance to your heart’s content – this Navratri!
10. Gathered & Pinned (at borders)
Technically, this is not a pleated pallu – but it’s easier and fun! Attempt this on sarees in fluid, wrinkle-free fabrics. Plain sarees with border work the best! Choose georgette sarees or ones in faux georgette, wrinkle-free poly-crepes, pashmina art-crepes and pure crepe sarees. Wrap like you would wrap a classic pleated saree – but, instead of pleating the pallu area, simply gather it (neatly) and pin with borders on shoulder. Easy!
B. Open Pallu Styles
Open Pallus have an eternal charm – and anyone who loves wearing sarees would surely have fallen to the bewitching fluidity and grace of these. For starters, they are easier and faster to drape – as the hassle of pleating is removed. But, if you fail to carry them elegantly, they also run the risk of looking shabby. And, it’s not too convenient to carry these flowing reams of fabrics – however breathtaking they may be – when you have loads to do.
Nonetheless, open, non-pleated saree pallus have a beauty and rawness – few can resist. Plus, you would surely not want to hide the beauty of a regal weave like Banarasi or the stylized pallu of a designer saree! But what you surely can do is – play around with open pallu styles, by trying any of the following lovely open pallu drapes –
11. Wrapped around Shoulders
Looks queen-like, the open pallu is casually worn around the shoulders – which looks majestic and old-world! Pair with a pearl choker, and stride with confidence, draped regally in a georgette beauty – and see how people can’t stop looking at you!
12. Head Drape
The open pallu is – well, open – so you can play amply with its loose end. In this one – wear the middle part of your open pallu over your head or pin it to your hair-bun. It’s a demure look for weddings, or when you want to flaunt your lehenga sarees.
13. Classic Flowing Pallu
The name tells it all – and well, there is no other drape matching the classiness and casual yet sensuous air of this one! And, if you manage to carry it right – I assure you, there will nothing matching the beauty of this one!
14. Lehenga-style Drape
Popular these days in lehenga sarees and half n half sarees, this pallu drape is worn tightly over the waist area, resembling a lehenga dupatta drape.
15. Dupatta Style
Wear your pallu like you would wear the duppata of your Salwar suit. Open and flowing, but pinned on one or both shoulders at the borders. Or, do with a twist like done in the image – after pleating, loosely drape around, and fold such that borders are together. Pin them, while leaving the fabric in between free and fluid. Add a belt on the waist, and see how you transform into a chic diva!
16. Classic, pinned-at-waist
This is a new-age take on the classic open pallu – where the flowing mid part of the open pallu is pulled and pinned at the waist level, while the loose end is pinned at the shoulders (as usual). This is done for two reasons. One – many women find open pallus too cumbersome, as they constantly have to hold the fabric weight on their arm to keep the look neat and prim. Two – many feel that open pallus lack the structure and definition of a severe, pinned or pleated pallu, especially at the waist area. Heavy weaves, actually, buckle up at this area in open pallus – making the wearer stodgy or thicker at mid-riff, at times. Thus, this new take – where extra fabric is gracefully pulled and pinned at the hip-level. Smart!
17. Flowing Pallu
So, you decided to go all experimental – and don’t want any definition. Take your pallu, and pin it any which way – falling front (as in the image) or even in the back – or duppatta style, and let your blouse and waist show.
18. Casually-thrown Pallu
Or, go the nonchalant way – and simply throw your open pallu over your shoulder. No pinning, no pulling – just a very relaxed way to drape a pallu. Looks regal in heavy weaves and Banarasi or linen sarees and handlooms like Chanderi sarees / Maheshwari sarees – but has the risk of looking unkempt or even vulgar – if you can’t seem to hold it in place. So – attempt – but with caution. And, don’t expect to dance in it!
Hope you find your perfect (pallu) drape! Do try all of these, though, first. And, in case you need a handy reference for pallu drapes – as you go along playing your saree game to perfection – we have a useful, save-able Infographic with all pallu drapes –
Do share your experiments and trysts with pallus and sarees with us – as comments below, or your lovely pictures, sent in to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will share your stories and pictures in our blogs.