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Why we wear a blouse with a saree - Seven Sarees

Why we wear a blouse with a saree


Choli ke peeche kya hai? What’s the back story of the blouse? Was it always worn with the saree? Obviously not! A cloth was tied around the breast by women, as shown in paintings and some statues. But going by the same evidence, there are hundreds of statues of women who did not wear a blouse. How did the blouse in its current form become a part of the saree.

Historical Context

 Most of India is humid, and men in small towns and villages often go about their days without a shirt. A hundred years ago, women too, draped a saree around their bodies and did not sweat inside their cholis. Wearing a blouse was not a norm in the past. In fact, there are newspaper accounts of how men got enraged to see their womenfolk wearing blouses, back in the 1930s. This may be hard to believe for us today, because if women stopped wearing blouses today, there would many, many, outraged men and women on social media protesting that too.

Influence of British Invasion

Let’s say that right now everyone is used to seeing women in sarees wear a blouse. But the practice began with the British invasion of India. The British lived in a country where a blouse with chemise inside it was absolutely necessary because it is very cold there. Their sense of ‘proper attire’ influenced the upper classes in India. The moral of the story is that whatever is considered ‘proper’ by one group of people in one period may be ‘highly improper’ to another group from another period of time.

Blouse as Proper Attire

The Western attire and ideas on formal wear have also influenced the office goers of today. The saree, worn along with the blouse is accepted as ‘Indian Formal wear’, while it would raise eyebrows if, one fine humid day, women decided to wear a saree without a blouse. We wear a blouse now because it has become part of all formal spaces and occasions.

Convenience and Style

The blouse is also very convenient to pin the saree to the shoulder and sometimes even at the back, so that the saree stays in place and we can concentrate on whatever we are doing: household chores, shopping or office work.Last but not the least, it is a garment that can be a great accessory to the saree. It can be simple when the saree is grand, or sparkling if the latter is plain. It can come in a variety of neck, back and sleeve patterns to make a style statement of its own. It can be embroidered, frilled or studded with gems and pearls.


 A T shirt, a short kurta or even a crop top can now be worn as a blouse. The blouse has evolved from being a simple garment that covered the top part of the body to a work of art, and remains today as an integral part of our wardrobe.

पिछला लेख Why do you look good in a saree

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