This blog presents an Image Consultant’s views on the topic. To explore hiring and Image Consultant or to become one attend a free workshop and understand the complete framework of Image Management and also get do it yourself tips on managing your Image in terms of appearance, behaviour, communication and digital foot print. Click here to register for the free workshop.
Winters offer great scope to dress in style while giving you an elegant figure. Not for you the baggy sweaters and shawls thrown loosely about the shoulder.
Winter Tip 1: Layer your clothes
Winter Tip 2: Avoid stolid, bulky shapes in sweaters and jackets
Winter Tip 3: Use dark shades with a hint of color in your layers.
Now for the detail. Keeping the winter season in mind, take out your silks and woolens whether you are wearing saris, kurtis or western wear. Each of these styles offers great outfits with variation without costing a lot. In this post, we talk about how to wear saris as formal wear in winters.
Saris – Color and Design
While you ought to keep in mind the winter rule of dark colors, you don’t have to follow this to the dot when it comes to a sari. That’s because you have three elements to the sari – the border, the main section and the blouse. Deep shades of greens, reds, blues and light purples are all fine. But remember, darker the color, the more formal it is on our Style Scale.
But, considering that the sari covers you from shoulder to toe, it can get dull if you overdo the dark shade. Make sure, there is a contrasting border or blouse to offset this.
The sari border must be thin to medium thickness. Large borders take away the formal touch of the sari. In addition, if you aren’t tall enough to carry them off, they can make you look short and worse still, disproportionate in build.
Since it is formal winter wear, you can wear long to elbow-length sleeves to the blouse. Have enough elbow room for comfort through the day, but not so loose that it droops. Long-sleeves designate a fully Tailored look, while shorter sleeves start giving a casual look. But, you can offset that with a long-sleeved jacket. Design must be in small print for both saris and blouses whenever there is a print, since this is formal wear we are talking about.
Jackets over Saris
It is perfectly fine to wear sari in a brighter shade and complement it with a dark suit jacket like Ms. Sonia Gandhi in the image below. While you are it, watch the straight lines and geometric design of her sari, giving her a Tailored, fully formal look.
You could wear the left front half of the jacket beneath the pallu which means you are leaving it unbuttoned and so you can’t use a double-breasted jacket. It also means you cannot take the jacket off when it gets warm.
Or you could wrap the sari pallu around your neck and bring it in a straight-line down the front, forming a pigeon front. Again, note the straight lines and geometric pattern to her sari in blue. But the light blue shade is offset by the silk material and the dark jacket. On the other hand, the purple sari on the right with just straight lines, almost like pinstripes, in the pallu, but with no other design looks fully formal.
Or wear the jacket fully over the pallu. Just make sure the pleats of the pallu are small or they may cause an unseemly bulge to the left shoulder of the jacket. In fact, this is one of the most flexible methods of wearing the jacket or sweater over a sari. It allows you to discard the jacket easily in public when it gets warm.
If using a double-breasted jacket, keep it buttoned at all times. If you are wearing the regular single-breasted one, unbutton it when you sit down.
Sweaters and Shawls
You could also wear a sweater or drape a shawl. But how do you wear them and still look formal?
The rule to follow is to maintain the line. Remember, straight lines and angular shapes make up formal wear. So the sari pallu must be pleated and pinned and the sweater or shawl must meet the Style Scale requirement of dark colors. But, each of these outer elements fall to a lower level of the Style Scale when compared to the jacket.
We advise this option for the Softly Tailored look because a sweater doesn’t give the extreme straight lines of a jacket. It is bound to have some curves around your figure and the sari. See the image below. While the sweater matches the sari well, the shoulders become rounded instead of maintaining an angular fall, bringing it down the Style Scale.
A well-matched shawl is a perfectly good option for Softly Tailored formal wear. Let it fall from a single shoulder for the straight line. When it gets cold, you can always wrap it around your shoulders. But make sure you do it neatly without haphazard folds.
Also, note that when the sari is plain in design, a shawl with pattern goes well with it. On the other hand, when there is plenty of design on the sari, a plain shawl is the right choice. But, when it comes to sweaters and jackets, sticking to the plain ones gives you a more professional look.
Cover your Neck
Question arises, how do you cover your neck and stay warm in a sari. Sari is generally seen as an item light in texture and that it does not let you cover every inch fully. Nothing can be farther from the truth. See the high-neck blouse that our Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao wears comfortably. Note also the long sleeves. In this case, she goes for a long chain that drops below the chest rather than her usual around-the-neck pearls which she wears with lower-necked blouses.
Wear your regular blouse inside if it’s really warm, a sweater type of blouse over it, the sari and then again the jacket, sweater or shawl. You can discard the outer items with growing warmth. As for the lower half of the body, you can wear leggings beneath the skirt for really cold days. A dark pair of socks and elegant shoes will keep you warm.
For more details on what constitutes Tailored, Softly Tailored, Casually Tailored and Un-tailored dressing for the Indian Woman, check our earlier post
About the Author
The author, Suman Agarwal, is the senior most Image Consultant in the Indian Sub-continent and director of Image Consulting Business Institute. Image Consulting Business Institute is pioneer in India and one of the biggest brands in the world in Image Management and Soft Skills Training Space. It offers programs for people to become Image Consultants and Soft Skills Trainers and at the same time offers Image Management and Soft Skills Training services to individuals and companies.
To become an Image Consultant visit
To hire an Image Consultant for personal consultation visit
To hire an Image Consultant for corporate services visit
Suman herself undertakes select personal consultation and corporate training assignments. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for any such assignments.