I was lucky that a year was printed on the back of this photo, since the dress itself would have been hard to date. The TV is most likely from the sixties, but people used to keep their sets for a long time.
This looks to me like a dress made from a sari, a length of cloth ranging from 3.5 to 9 yards. Many have a dramatic end section, called a pallu (or pallou). There are many ways to tie a sari, but most use the pallu for dramatic effect. This dress places it at the bottom. There are narrower gold bands at the wrists and waist, perhaps from the fabric selvedge. I can’t figure out what is going on at her neck—what are your thoughts?
As a seamstress, I am always interested in homemade garments. This must have been custom made by someone, perhaps the wearer herself. The South Asian women I know do not appreciate having sari fabric cut up and made into “Western style” garments (although I admit to having done this myself).
Where did she find the fabric? And where was she headed?