Wearing a saree in the old-fashioned Bengali way is, contrary to appearances, quite a simple affair. This style has less folds and tucks that matter and it all crushes down as you go about your day so you don't really look as balloon-like as you may think you do.
You start by tucking the saree around your waist, going left from your navel, round your butt and back to your navel from your right. The photo shows a mistake that many beginners commonly make -- carelessly pulling the saree to the left they as tuck. It's best if you ensure that the saree falls ramrod straight all through this first round, for this and all other styles.
Now cross all that remaining material over to your left once more, making one single fold and tucking it in at your back, just over your left hip. Tuck in the portion that just crossed your waist on the left. At this point the underside of the saree will be uppermost and that's how it should be.
Cross it over in front once and repeat that single small fold and tuck over your right hip at the back now. Tuck in the portion that crossed your midriff.
Now the saree will have turned the right way around once more.
Taking it from the tuck at your back on the right, drape it over your chest, laying the excess material on your left shoulder. Let the rest of the cloth (there will be lots) puddle behind you.
Start folding the saree into neat pleats over your shoulder and don't pull the cloth too tight. It needs to hang comfortably in front of you. The pleats needn't be perfect either because a little imperfection at this point actually adds to the charm of the look. Pin the arrangement carefully to your blouse at your shoulder when the pleats are done.
The only thing you need to ensure is that the border hangs straight down to the left of your left knee.
This honestly is the only part of this drape that needs a bit of practice. It needs to look like this:
The fall stitched on the back of the border should not show, if this is draped right, but even if the border does show, it's not a real problem because no matter how well you drape the fall will show when you move. The only real solution to the problem is to not have falls stitched on your saree.
Now comes the fun part. Get out your key-ring and tie it to the end of the anchal (pallu). The corner you want is the one that will be uppermost if you bring all that excess cloth around to the front under your right arm without twisting it.
If you're not a householder and have no key-ring then you can always tie a bunch of coins in a neat bundle at the corner of the anchal. That's what I used to do and that's what grandmothers did to keep loose change handy.
Throw it over your shoulder.
Now, as you can see, I'm draping a silk saree, so it was a bit slippery. It made sense to me to let the cloth settle and then just pin those few upper folds of the pallu so that not all the weight was on the key-ring.
The anchal will fall asymmetrically across your front and somehow, this looks beautiful no matter what the style. You can pull the portion hanging loose behind your back over your head to make what we Bengalis call a ghomta (ghunghat) to cover your head during worship or just to keep the sun off.
The beauty of this style is that it's very loose and comfortable to wear and there always seems to be enough cloth to cover you when it rains or it gets too sunny. It's also great for highlighting the work on the anchal and borders since both are showcased, so to speak.
Note: In movies and on telly they show the key-ringed anchal being draped over the other (right) shoulder. Well, I've always seen only one shoulder bearing both rounds of cloth in real life and I think it makes more sense. Certainly more comfortable.
Wear your petticoat and then do your hair and makeup. These fifteen minutes will give it time to settle so by the time you drape the saree you'll be able to tell if you need to tighten/loosen the petticoat waist.
When tucking at your waist always try to ensure that the material is smooth next to your skin (under the petticoat). This ensures a slimmer silhouette.
How to wear a Madisar (Iyer style)