At the risk of this initially reading more like a revision lecture than an article, we would still like to take a small recap of the season gone by. Season previous was when all we ranted and raved about evening soiree this or weekend getaway that because with dipping temperatures and dropping humidity, progressions of weddings and prescriptions for parties were just the thing to sum up the calendar finale. But above all else, winter meant freedom. Freedom to make as many fashion statements at as many parties as you pleased because neither did the fabrics feel stifling nor the styles and cuts choking. Borrowed heaven indeed.
But that was then and this is now. So mercury has risen astronomically and humidity is heavy enough for tangibility. Merely dressing up for work seems a drag and stepping out onto the street a curse. But whoever said adversity, meteorological adversity at that, had to stand in the way of gaiety? Breeze through our summer subscriptions and attend every party you are (or sometimes are not) invited to- heat, humidity, lethargy and all.
Moda per donna
Despite being the more devoted commemorators of fashion of the two sexes, women (at least women in Bangladesh) generally have it harder than the men. Informal kitty party or late night dance, eyebrows will still rise dare she pull on a pair of jeans and an accommodating Tee. Not that there's cause for complain; after all, if all things were allowed and fashion police took a back seat, who would provide fodder for lipstick journalism?
So having established that we are in fact quite happy to find ourselves on the more clothed, louder make-upped, longer haired end of the bargain, let's get started. First up we have day parties that include midday brunches, children's birthday bashes, corporate lunches and early evening tea parties all under one banner. Although our climatic conditions are such that the heat tends to last throughout the entire twenty-four hours, there is the added worry of sweltering sun rays during the day. For very obvious reasons, colour schemes maintained should be soothingly toned so make sure your closet is in excess of varying shades of whites and ivories and a well-rounded palette of pastels in blue, sea-green, light green, pink and peach.
Saris, be they the most elegant ensemble in this part of the world, are of course not compulsory anymore so those who choose not to, can opt for salwar suits or kurtis in different makes and materials. Appropriate fabrics this season are natural materials such as endi silk, light khadi, voile and cotton and as concerns style, knee length kameezes paired with short salwars or patialas, recommends Maheen Khan of Mayasir. Other important determinants, she notes, are necklines and sleeves and keeping heat and humidity in mind, one would do well to go for open fronts and boat necks, trying as best as possible to avoid collared outfits. If the gathering is on a slightly more formal scale or if you are personally more inclined towards saris, there is an entire range of ventilating kotas or comfortable cottons and elegant cotton jamdanis to choose from, the former duo made both locally and imported from abroad.
Moving along the hours, we come to evening soirees and formal dinners and we would like to assume that couples who brave summer matrimony would preferably to have them at night so weddings we categorise under night parties as well. Now evening-wear, especially that at weddings, has long become a formula look for Bangladeshis who have a penchant for the overall appearance of heavy, embellished sari, dazzling jewellery and layers worth of make-up. Conventional look yes, sight for sore eyes no. Air conditioned community centres or not, since we are up against humidity as well, ensembles that oppress less and soothe more, both inwardly and outwardly, are definitely the way to go. Forego the katans, South Indian silks and kanchivarams for a season or two and opt instead for lighter saris that will let you breathe like chiffon, net and lace suggests Maheen. Choice of colour is pretty much the same as above, although the occasional black or crimson can be worn every once in a while.
This does not come to belittle the importance of either glitz or glamour, only bring it out in a different manner. Lighter fabrics, which can be just as elegant as their heavier counterparts, accesorised with just a bit of innovation can be just the thing to make you stand out in a crowd. Say no to heavy jewellery for a couple of months and go for seasonal flowers in your hair, fancy bags and purses, trendy watches, matching slippers and bold or printed scarves and dupattas as add ons. And finally, for hair and make up, we re-emphasise our light theme and prescribe simplicity by using rationed amounts of kajol, mascara and gloss during the day and adding to that list eye shadow by night. Do up your hair for both aesthetic and comfort purposes.
Moda per uomo
With very little will to sound prejudiced, this really is the lesser, easier of the two evils. Denims and t-shirts are all time winners so that's a never-go-wrong option for casual lunch or evening parties. Keep up the casual look from head to toe, literally, and go for hairstyles leaning towards the neater cuts rather than the wild, falling-all-over your face look in this heat and as for footwear, open-toed sandals, kolapuris or half-closed nagras are great choices (and no home slippers do not qualify, however comfortable they may be).
For formal occasions or eveningwear, kurtas or panjabis are most apt but for these too, try and let alone heavy or synthetic fabrics. Light colours top this list as well, especially when it comes to white panjabis. If some parties do call for stricter dress codes, then formal shirts, collars and sleeves intact, trousers and closed shoes cannot (or should not) be shunned rather, lest you should feel underdressed or out of place at an official party.
Moda per bambini
Children these days seem to formulate opinions on everything, including clothing from very early on and we appreciate their right to do so (or so we say at least). Pretty frilly frocks are outfits least preferred so we will exclude that from our rank of priorities for their sake. For little girls, short or knee length skirts and tunics and cropped trousers with halter or sleeveless tops make for a good looking compromise but if they do insist on adult-wear (read serial-wear) as they more often than necessary do, then let them wear those much coveted salwar suits, albeit in comfortable, breezy materials and designs.
And believe it or not, boys these days are opinionated as well so some will insist on looking older than they are, suddenly observing dedication to trousers and shirts while others will refuse to be dragged out of shorts and t-shirts altogether. It is easier to leave them be as they please but do try to cajole them out of long sleeves or lengths if it is going to be an afternoon gathering or outside party. Bermudas or three-quarter shorts and t-shirts work well in rising temperatures so these are the better choices if the events attended do not ask for formal dress codes.
At the end of the day, how you dress has more to do with individuality than imposition so all we ask is that you give yourself and your clothes a breather this summer!
By Subhi Shama Reehu
Styling, wardrobe, accessories, and make-up: Farzana Shakil
Photo: Zahedul I. Khan