Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Kiran Bahl


Greetings to all! Holiday season is still in full swing, be it Eastern or Western occasions. We have so many reasons to be thankful for, to celebrate, and to take pleasure in life. Isn’t it natural then, too, to also rejoice in the latest styles? Here are some useful (and sometimes unthought-of of) tips to keep in mind when dressing for the next party, wedding event, pooja or dinner get-together!

Mostly, it’s all about the outfit. We focus, naturally, on the color, the sequin/embroidery work, the style, even the design on the piece. Two particular sections, which can remain disregarded, are the sleeve and blouse/choli length of the outfit. Here are some hints to have your sleeves/blouse match up with your outfit, without the fear of looking out-of-place (this can and does happen!).

Ladies, if wearing a sari or lehnga, virtually any sleeve style works. From halter top and strappy, to cap-sleeve and traditional short-sleeve, any blouse style will make your outfit shine, except the no-sleeve-at-all style, also called the tube-top. It’s simply not elegant, which is the persona of a sari/lengha. Longer sleeve styles, too, are not recommended, as they can make your look oh-too-stuffy. When wearing a churidar, especially the Anarkali fashions, opt for short-sleeve, ¾-length-sleeve, and long-sleeve sheer looks, as the whole outfit should display a traditional and almost vintage feel. For a salwar kameez, avoid fully-lined long sleeves if possible, as they may appear stifling, especially if paired with a high neckline. Keeping the sleeves sheer, almost translucent, will give the outfit a more airy and flowy feel.

Gentlemen, regarding sleeve length, always choose full-length styles. Whether wearing the simplest white kurta pajama or donning the trendiest three-piece sherwani, all looks, as classically always, remain long-sleeve style. The key, however, to remain fashion savvy is to ensure sleeve length is always accurate. A too-short or too-long sleeve will make you look ill-fitted and careless. Sleeve length should always extend the wrist by about ½-1 inch. Note: You may, of course, during the course of your social gathering, roll up your sleeves for convenience, but do make your grand entrance fully-sleeved!

Blouse length has always been a discussion for me for years now. Family, friends and customers always question the morality of the sari blouse length, or how long the kameez of a churidar or pantsuit should be. There is no definite answer. Why? Because fashion changes every day! With these changes, come obvious changes in length as well. General advice that I can provide, though, has been confirmed by several similar counts of a particular length over research from the past few months. Sari blouses should be short. Yes, there is always the problem with the belly and waist being over-exposed, but that’s where the sari’s covering palloo power comes to our rescue. Also, proper use of the evergreen brooch/safety pin to hold the palloo in place can be our savior; use them to your advantage if necessary to hide your imperfections! Lehnga cholis should be longer than a sari blouse, but barely skimming the waist (the very top) of the lehnga (skirt). If the choli is made too long, it will risk looking obsolete and especially frumpy, as you’ll have more cloth bunched around your waist, hips, and behind. Finally, churidars are being created with knee to ankle-length designs in mind, and quite oppositely, salwar kameezes and pantsuits are keeping with the short kameez modes, usually hip to mid-thigh length. This approach will follow through the end of summer and into early fall.

Gentlemen, it may seem trendy to you, but do not, I repeat, not chop off your traditional kurtas into kurta tops, like the types seen in Bollywood movies. There is logic to this, being in these films, kurta tops are worn with jeans or slacks. Your traditional kurta pajama, however, contains a pajama, either a salwar or churidar. They’re much larger, baggier and completely unflattering when worn with a short top! Unless you’re willing to trash your pajama and leave the house half westernized to your eastern function, don’t do this. If the urge just cannot leave your side, try your ‘creation’ alone in the confines of your home, and I promise you’ll never even think of repeating this mistake again!

As always, remember to gro with style!

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

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