Guest Post : Idiot’s guide to sari shopping

ToI photo of Diwali shopping crowds in T Nagar, Chennai
ToI photo of Diwali shopping crowds in T Nagar, Chennai

Yet another brilliant guest post from my favorite ex-manager. I know it’s probably a few days too late and has missed the Diwali shopping season, but hey, classic humor never came with an expiry date, did it. So here goes, an Idiot’s guide to sari shopping.

There was never meant to be another post before Diwali. However, the response from you readers has been truly touching. A few of you have asked me to stop writing some rot about software testing or Best In Class and have instead asked me to concentrate on important stuff like dealing with marital stress. So, I have pulled back from semi-retirement and I have sat down to give you some pointers on buying saris.

Why is it important?

Accompanying your wife to buy a sari is an important stage in your relationship. It means your wife thinks you have grown up and you are capable of acting responsibly. For those of you in love, a visit to a sari shop with your loved one can make or mar your marital chances depending on how you behave.

Which Shop to choose?

You must be complete nuts or newly married to right away agree to visit the sari shop suggested by your wife. Do your Due Diligence study. If you are new to the city, this will be helpful –

a. Look at the shop’s advertisements. If they feature happy families (Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Pop and Kids), the chances are the shop will be budget friendly and suited to various tastes.

b. Be wary of shops that call themselves sari boutiques and feature anemic sari clad models in their advertisements. If the models look unconvincing in their saris, how good is the shop going to be?

c. Avoid shops in upmarket areas. A shop in Dr.Radhakrishnan Salai or Alwarpet is unlikely to have anything costing below few thousands. The shopkeeper has to recover rent expenses from gullible folks like you.

d. Consider yourself very lucky if your wife is a value shopper. Take her to Saravana Stores at 9:00 AM and leave her alone till about lunch time. The visit will be light on your pocket and your wife will also be happy about the great prices.

e. Everyone shops at Saravana Stores. But, no one admits to it. Don’t flaunt the fluorescent orange color Saravana Stores shopping bags at office.

f. If you are hustled into visiting some expensive shop (Man Mandir or Palam Silks), ask the shop assistant for extra shopping bags. You can slip in some Saravana Stores stuff into it and gift it to your loved ones the next time. Please remember to remove the Saravana Stores tags before you do that.

g. Don’t ask your female colleagues for suggestions. They will just guide you to the most expensive sari shop nearby.

Which type of Sari to Choose?

This is a bit more complicated. I will try to make it as much simple as possible.

Kanchivaram – Good for your wedding ceremony and perhaps for your first wedding anniversary. Don’t make this a habit. It will cost you big time. A friendly tip – Soft silks are cheaper. Ask for this variety. If your wife insists on buying Kanchivarams for all occasions, you can try this remedy. Watch the Prakashraj movie – ‘Kanchivaram’ with your wife. It is a sob story of a father trying to buy a Kanchivaram silk sari for his daughter’s wedding. This will put your wife off Kanchivarams for a while atleast till your finances recover.

Chettinad Cotton – For middle aged ladies. Are you sure you want to suggest this to your wife?

Patola Silk – Gujarati saris. As costly as Kanchivarams! Can impress your wife if she is a South Indian.

Mysore Silk – As costly as Kanchivarams! Can impress your wife if she is a North Indian.

Kota Silk, Raw Silk & Jamdani Silk – Recommended power dressing in case your wife is a senior corporate executive. (You don’t need to worry too much about budgets in that case)

Pochampally – Traditional variety. Ask for Ikkat mix. Seems to be in fashion now.

Cotton Saris – daily wear saris. Buy only if you are ready to starch these saris for your wife everyday.

Silk Cotton – You can make a virtue of buying this. Looks like silk but it isn’t. It is not cruel to silk worms or to your wallet and is available at all price points.

Synthetic Saris – Can be worn by everyone. Very glittery saris. Beware! Everyone right from your servant maid will wear these saris.

What design / color scheme to choose?

If your wife is / feels young, she will go in for bright colors. Neon colored silk saris are in fashion now. If you think the sari is too loud, mention that Mallika Sherawat is wearing something similar in ‘Mere Khayalon ki Mallika’. your wife will immediately drop it. All womenfolk hate Mallika Sherawat.

Should I surprise my wife with a sari gift?

Your wife will certainly appreciate your thought in going & buying a sari on your own. She will even say nice things about you to everyone. But, keep the receipt handy and also check out the shop’s exchange policy. She will want to exchange the sari for a better one. Don’t feel hurt about it. Wives are genetically wired that way.

Stitching a Blouse

The journey is not complete till your wife has a matching blouse that goes well with the sari. Here are some observations –

a. There are no longer plain vanilla tailors in the city. All of them now call themselves as Designers and charge accordingly for their services.

b. The cost of stitching a blouse is elastic and is situation based. God forbid you say that it is for a wedding. The charges will just triple with no apparent improvement in quality!

c. In case you accompany your wife to the Designer, gently turn down suggestions for embroidery, stone work, lace work etc. Each of these will take your tailoring costs to dizzy heights.

d. Remember, none of the Designers accept credit cards. Cash rules in this business.

e. Try to subtly lead your wife to try out readymade blouses. You may not save too much, but every rupee helps.

f. A good & dependable tailor is every girl’s secret wish. If you have managed to find one for your wife, every mistake of yours will be forgiven.

Happy Shopping! 😀

Post Script

I will be failing in my duty if I don’t thank my wife and two daughters for their constant criticisms and comments on my taste or lack of it. They have kindly allowed me to lend my skin, hair & face for trying out new cosmetics, hair styling and color combinations. Being a husband and father has been quite educational. If not for their insistence that I should accompany them in their shopping expeditions, I would never have got the insights that were much needed for the post on buying saris.

I have been asked by some of you dear readers on how to buy pottu packets (bindis), hair bands, clips & accessories, when to wear matching-matching and when to go in for color contrasts. These are very weighty topics. I intend to ask my boss for a lighter role so that I can work on these topics during office hours and provide you with necessary data points.

One of the readers also wanted to know if I was born an idiot or became one after marriage.


Now if that wasn’t classic humor, then you haven’t got no sense of humor at all 😉

15 thoughts on “Guest Post : Idiot’s guide to sari shopping

  1. Haha hilarious, it’s just what my husband would have written too. But even I didn’t know this many kinds of sarees! Your ex-manager’s wife has really done good amount of shopping 🙂 hehe I liked this post. My husband will probably love this 🙂 will pass this on to him

    • @Dhriti, yes, from the post it does look like he’s done more than his fair share of shopping with his wife and two daughters, doesn’t it 🙂

    • @Kajal, glad you enjoyed the post, and yes, please do make your husband to read this just to realize how lucky he really is 😉

  2. Rofl…that is just a brilliant post. And well researched…I must say. And loved the post script. I am not much into shopping, especially sarees. I feel totally out of place and would gladly trade that time to be in a book store or a library or a movie theatre. Right now I love shopping for my daughter though. My husband picks out my sarees and we do in less than half hour 🙂
    Pls can I add my bit…
    And by the go shopping in saravana stores, where half of chennai is, at diwali time, we need to equip ourselves mentally and physically. ‘ConstanT vigilance’ in
    the words of mad eye moody, harry potter..on family and possessions. Have a good breakfast, a bit of warm up exercises will help, replenish energy with fluids and energy drinks. Finally…as you step into to shop think of the end result…happy family..and go to your happy place…find your Inner peace.

    I talk too much…don’t I..? 😦

    Simply awesome post 🙂

    • @Preethi, having been to Saravana Stores on a normal day (read non festival season day) I have no other choice than to completely agree with all your points. It is a true test of a man’s (and a woman’s and a child’s) patience and mental fortitude to actually go there during any festival shopping season. Even thoughts of the end result will not assuage the pains that one actually has to go through during the experience.

      Am glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 and yes, your husband is a lucky man that you are not a big fan of saris 😉

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