7 Wardrobe Essentials you can make into a Make-shift Saree Blouse

Medha Gayathri Nilayangode

I hail from Kerala, India, and speak around 5 languages. (I write in 2.) An architect by profession, fighting for everything sustainable. Avid reader, writer, artist, designer, dancer and fashion stylist by passion. As sapiosexual as any cliche fictional character. Complete Grammar Nazi. Strong advocate, of the Oxford comma. A bit of a narcissist. Completely overcome by (mostly) harmless OCD.


Saree is the most elegant piece of clothing ever invented. We can all agree to that. It can be worn in numerous ways and there is always room for improvisation. Almost every Indian girl/woman will tell you that saree is her go-to outfit for every function. I always make sure that my outfit for every new function is different from what I wore every time before that. All you need for that is the right styling. But what do you do when you have a sudden event coming up and you need to cook something up? It is highly unlikely that the young members of our generation will have sarees and blouses in their wardrobes. Now we can always pull out a saree from our mothers’ collection. But if your mom is anything like mine (because she does not wear sarees anymore), you will not find a blouse there.

Sure, ready-made blouses of all kinds are available everywhere. But for our generation, living on a tight budget, it is not really necessary to spend so much money to buy a blouse for a saree you won’t wear often.

But don’t worry! I am here to give you solutions to this particular situation. Here are 7 items you will surely find in your wardrobe, that you can easily turn into a saree blouse. I have also added some styling tips on how to accessorise such outfits.

1. T-shirt : The easiest

Take any plain t-shirt from your collection and it is a blouse. You just have to make sure to wear a padded bra underneath, and you’re all set. This can be paired with all types, colours, and patterns of sarees. Alternatively, you can choose a patterned t-shirt to pair with plain and simple sarees to amp up the outfit. Now, those of you who shy away from showing skin may keep the length of the t-shirt. But I personally prefer to fold the length of the t-shirt in to tuck the hem underneath the band of my bra, making it into a neat and perfect blouse.

You can pair this with your usual accessories. Just remember that this will resemble a high neck blouse from behind.


2. Shirt

Shirts paired with sarees look classy and trendy. You can fasten the first few buttons and tie the two corners of the remaining length in a knot. This will keep the “blouse” in place, while reducing the length to that of a blouse and creating a good fit. Choose a very formal shirt for this piece, and the long sleeves and cuffs will add a very edgy feel to the look. This is best paired with a statement piece of earring or necklace. This can either be a choker worn on your neck between the collars, or a necklace worn outside, from underneath the collar fold. Of course, you have to consider the occasion. Here, I paired a parrot green cotton shirt with an off-white saree. I chose a simple garland of Jasmine to go with the simple look.  

3. Shrug

This may just be the best idea I have had in terms of fashion. Most shrugs will be difficult to work with a saree. You just need to pick the right kind of shrug. I was once in a situation like the one I mentioned in the intro. I peeped into my wardrobe and found a black long-sleeved shrug with a tie band down its front. This made things quite easy. All I had to do was tie the shrug in front and tuck the knot and the remaining length of the band into the band of the bra, and I had the most perfect and the most comfortable blouse I have ever worn. This, I paired with a white ‘set mundu’, a kind of two-piece saree from Kerala. This can also be paired like any normal blouse. Here, I paired it with simple pearl earrings.  

4. Crop tops

This is the best and easiest make-shift saree blouse, because a crop top is a blouse by default. The only issue you may have is that it does not hug the figure. But if you are looking for a casual easy-going look, this is your best option. If you are really particular about your blouse hugging the figure, you can always add pins, buttons or press buttons to help you with this. Pair this with statement earrings and chunky bangles or quirky wristbands.  

5. Kurta

Surprised? Well, don’t be. You now get to surprise your friends and cousins with this little wonder. You can either insert the kurta into your underskirt and act like it is just a long blouse, or you can wear the kurta over the lower half of your saree and bring the other end of the saree to the front through the side slit, so the kurta looks like it is half inside the saree, and half out. Keep the accessories simple with this one, unless the saree and kurta are too plain. Remember, the kurta is the focus of this ensemble. Here, I designed a ‘kurta’ to match the saree, and added a statement neckpiece in matching colour.  

6. Sweater

This is nothing new – just a little something widely practised in cold regions. Instead of wearing a sweater over your saree-blouse outfit, wear the sweater as a long blouse. It looks fresh and more stylish. Turtlenecks and crop sweaters work best for this, although normal round-neck button-up sweaters are fine too. Since the “blouse” here looks and feels heavy, it is best to keep the accessories minimal.  

7. Inners/thermals

This is an all-time favourite of mine. Super comfortable, if you have the right climate. You know those full sleeve tight-fitting inners (thermal or otherwise) that you own? Wear them and style them just like the t-shirts from #1 and you’re all set. (As seen in the feature image) This looks elegant, and formal and festive at the same time. This is my staple choice, and I usually pair bright coloured plain inners with golden or cream sarees, and simple metal accessories.  

If none of those is your type, well then, go all out and make a style of your own! There is nothing to stop you from wearing what you like! Experimentation is 80% of the fun of wearing a new outfit!

But if you have time, there is nothing quite like the classic saree blouse with the deep back-neck and the back tie. So whenever you have time, get some stitched. Have fun!