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Kiran Bahl

Greetings to all and Happy Independence Day to India. As we celebrate this beautiful month of freedom and unity, letís also embrace the ever-rising Florida heat and focus on light, airy clothing, still meant to sparkle and shine for any event, true pattaka (firecracker) style.

Before we get into the latest colors and materials, know this: The most important fashion staple this season for casual wear is to rid of a usually important accessory Ė the dupatta. Runway audiences were shocked and appalled as major designers began displaying their everyday salwar kameezes, pantsuits and churidaars sans dupattas. When questioned about this, they responded that todayís woman is more independent, more modern, and busier than ever. A dupatta has moved from becoming an essential part to an outfit to a mere, optional accessory. The necessity for it has completely faded, if not vanished. Unbelievable as it sounds, women all over have embraced the idea, and now, suits from georgettes to cotton have discarded the dupatta.

The heat, of course, is still rising, especially in the South. Light colors are prevailing, even in formal lenghas and saris. Whites, creams and beiges are topping the lists, with pastels not too far behind. Light kundan and gold/silver work is popular against a backdrop of airy chiffon or crepe. Formal, even wedding reception-wear, surprises us as well, the popular color choices being reds and bright blues. A red, crepe sari lined with glittery, silver sequins can fire up any event, as well as a turquoise, chiffon lengha beaded with gold kundan work. Itís all about the play of colors combined with simple, yet contrasting patterns.

Letís now focus on jewelry. Bangles have taken a backseat. For now, one simple kada on one hand, and just a few bangles on the other, defines todayís look. Colored bangles, too, have become less popular. Gold/silver colors, oxidized or not, have become the only colors to wear. Jewelry sets, of course, match the outfit, but what color do you wear when wearing mostly white or beige? Itís practically impossible to find a jewelry set with these neutral colors. Because of this, jewelry sets, such as bangles, are chosen to remain neutral, some added with kundan stones for effect.

Gentleman, contrary to womenís wear, menswear consists of different, vivid colors, such as maroon, navy blue and cocoa brown. Cotton is the prevailing fabric, something men have absolutely nothing to complain about. Also, a simple kurta pajama in a bolder color actually ďformalizesĒ it, dressing it up for almost any occasion!

Once again, letís make this Independence Day festive and full of love and smiles. Always enjoy and savor every moment, and as always, remember to gro with style!

Kiran Bahl of Gro Styles, ďAn Indian Boutique,Ē 2035 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612, can be reached at (813) 843-9040 or (813) 903-8334.

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