There has always been this fear amongst mostly the younger generation that while the saree maybe glamorized to a very large extent and could be made to suit the most modern of settings, being worn in a more contemporary sort of way, there is always an element of doubt as to how it distorts ones silhouette. The ‘bulky saree syndrome’ seems to be plaguing all those who feel a bit more body and figure conscious than others. Resultantly women spend hours in front of the mirror tucking in , pinning the folds tight or sometimes a bit too tight in an attempt to create a more svelte figured look. They fear that the folds of these nine yards do not take away inches but add more. Also, since the midriff is exposed as are the back and shoulders, there is fear of those usually hidden inches that are cleverly underneath the kameez, will eventually make them look a bit too bulky.
The most important aspects of the saree that can add or reduce the look of bulk are:
Areas of the body that tend to be highlighted as fat, if the saree is not well chosen are-the tummy, the shoulders and neck, the back and the hips, and that would be the undoing of the way you wish to look.
Try Lighter fabrics like chiffons, crepes and georgettes with an emphasis on darker hues as lighter colors will tend to make you look more bulky. Lighter fabrics cause less bulkiness near the tummy especially while pleating and the fall from the shoulder also is much sleeker.
Wear prints that are small rather than large ones- wear lighter shades of prints and smaller motifs in embroidery. Do not go for garish large prints in dark colors as that leads to body weight getting highlighted.
Handloom sarees are perhaps the most breathable of fabrics and also quite light especially in the cotton silks variants that are filling up the shelves. The finest of course are pure Maheshwaris and Chanderis, but do be conscious of the fact that some Chanderis do have stiffer weaving and can be as fluffed up as any organza. Which also brings us to the next saree one needs to be cautious of- the Organza.
The sarees below are the kinds that you need to denounce! Instead wear light linens.
Do avoid very heavy silks especially when your bulk is round your stomach. The pleating of heavy silks will cause your tummy area to look fatter than usual and make matters worse.
But as you can see in the picture below-reduce the number of pleats keeping the pallu long and wearing long sleeved blouse can help.
Please do avoid wearing the Nivi style of draping as that could spell disaster for those having bulk around their midriff. This is a style that takes the pallu straight across the upper body making a part of the midriff and hip clearly visible. But in case you still love the Nivi style it would be prudent that you choose a lighter saree and take the pleats over the shoulder, not in too tight a construct and wear long sleeved blouse so as to take the attention away from the stomach area as in the picture below.
Sure, like any other definitive feature of the saree like the pallu, the border somewhat adds the look of slimness or bulk on the wearer and the reason for that is that thicker borders give the illusory impact of heaviness in the saree while thinner borders take away the heavy look despite the saree actually being heavy. So the typical broad bordered cottons or Kanjeevarams are to be completely avoided while you may wear slim borders with stone work, zari and the kind.
I would still like to believe that if the border is thinner on top and thicker at the base, the look helps give you a slimmer appearance.
Wear delicate embroidery on saree to look slim and better still-if you truly want to go party in a saree wear chiffon or georgette in dark hues that has mukaish or sequin work all over. Do not ever wear any form of glossy sarees as that gets your bulk to look even more pronounced.
Here are two amazing ways to get a slimmer look:
Select a blouse design that play an integral part in keeping the silhouette slim-which includes avoiding boat necks, large fluffy designed sleeves and of course overly done up embroidery on the back and sleeves as that will anyway make you look overly heavy on the upper body. In case the bulk is more on the upper body then the sleeves should be slim fit, long at least three quarter. While the temptation to wear sleeveless is really there but it can make you look overtly heavy.
My second most important tip is that the best way to beat the look of a heavy body is by adding height and that of course can be done by wearing heels and high ones as long as you can sustain yourself for long hours.
Today we have realized over years of experimentation that perhaps saree is the only fluid garment that can drape any woman, any size as long as she is confident about her look.