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Saree, Not Sorry : Everything You Need To Know About Buying a Saree in Colombo

Everything you need to know about sarees in Sri Lanka.

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Note: If you're a man and you don't intend on wearing a saree, here's our guide on how to suit up. If you're a woman who doesn't care about sarees and you want to wear a suit, you can check it out too. 

What is a saree?

A saree (or sari) is a long cloth (between 5-9 yards) that is traditionally draped around the female anatomical structure in most of the Indian Subcontinent. Depending on the style, richness of embroidery, or material, they can be worn during special occasions or on a daily basis (usually in more traditional occupations or as a uniform - Sri Lankan Airlines air hostesses, Government employees, school teachers). An everyday cotton saree can cost as low as Rs. 400. A custom hand-sewn silk wedding saree can easily go into lakhs. 

Why do women like to wear sarees?

Because they want to look like Aishwarya Rai. Or because they just want to wear a damn saree. Or for science.

This item of clothing flaunts your curves whilst making it difficult to pee. Sarees are notoriously pliable, which makes them flattering for all body types - they add the illusion of curves to skinny frames, and delicately drape over chunkier ones. This is probably the only "one size fits all" tag that works in reality. 

On what occasions do women wear saree?

If your job requires it, or otherwise on special occasions like weddings, opening ceremonies, your ex's funeral or when you don't know what to do with your bed sheet. Look out for cues - the richness of the work on the saree, its weight, material used (heavy silk or cotton?) can let you know whether it's more suitable as a casual day saree or a formal wedding outfit. 

Where to buy a saree

It's impossible to list down every single store that sells sarees, but here are few spots to get your 6 yards from!

(Please feel free to drop a comment with your favourite saree spots too)

  • Roam the streets of Pettah. It's DA HOOD for sarees. Loads of variety, and possibly your cheapest option. If you're really, really lucky, you might also get touched by an uncle
  • Orchard Shopping Complex - Opposite Savoy Cinema in Colombo 06. 
  • Saree Mandir 
  • Swastik Sarees 
  • Rithihi - If your budget isn't a constraint, and you're looking for high-quality, extremely elegant handmade stuff, Rithihi is your best bet. 
  • Pallu (By Nolimit)
  • 7 Stories by Ranjanas - On the posher end of the spectrum, you'll get a large selection, a dedicated assistant, and a comfortable shopping experience 
  • Uptown Kandy - Again, you'll find a lot of variety, but the quality varies here, so try and go with someone who can let you know if you're getting ripped off. This is your spot if you like bling on your 9 yards though. 
  • Kamaleswary Textiles
  • Wijaya Saree Mandiraya
  • Multiple shops in Wellawatte. They've got many stores selling sarees around
  • Buddhi Batiks
  • Aashkii
  • Don't buy. Ask a nice aunty for a saree. Don't ask a nosy aunty! She might attach a secret camera on the saree just to spy on you

What do you need to wear a saree?

  • A saree
  • A blouse 
  • An underskirt
  • A nice pair of heels
  • Appropriate/traditional jewellery
  • If you're going to an evening/formal function, pair your saree with a small clutch purse - no bulky handbags
  • A pottu/bindi if you're feeling extra ethnic
  • A photographer to take nice pics of you for your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter

Where to tailor a saree blouse

Saree Rule 23 - You cannot wear a saree without a saree blouse. 

Here's a quick guide to knowing what style of blouse you would want tailored

Here's where you can get your saree blouse tailored -

  • Golden Needle
  • Raheem's 
  • Raheema's
  • A bunch of tailors inside the Orchard Shopping Complex opposite Savoy Cinema in Welawatta.
  • Aszai Studio
  • Any place with "LADIES TAILORING UNDERTAKEN" printed on the board

If you know of any tailors, please drop a comment.

Saree styles

There's so much you can do with a saree.

The most commonly worn styles in Sri Lanka are the Kandyan saree and the normal looking Indian-style saree. 

You can either get your saree draped by someone or drape it by yourself.

If you are going to a salon to get it draped, you will be charged about Rs. 500 minimum. If you are going to the closest aunty to get it draped, you will be charged with questions about your love life. 

So learn to drape it by yourself by watching YAMU TV's easy DIY down below!

Things to keep in mind before wearing a saree

  • Pee before you wear your saree. Or wear an adult pamper, but that would be a little messy
  • Don a pair of heels. But if you're gonna waddle like a constipated duck, don't. But try. Heels add elegance. And height. If you're 6 feet tall, it doesn't matter 
  • Get the right fit for your blouse - neither loose nor tight
  • DON'T FORGET YOUR UNDERSKIRT. Mini skirts don't count. Get your achchi's long skirt if you can't find an underskirt
  • Get a matching underskirt. It would look weird if you had a green underskirt for a white saree
  • Ornament yourself with nice jewelry. Click here to learn how you can clean your silver jewelry by yourself
  • Wear it with confidence. 
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