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Kiran Bahl

HAPPY THANKSGIVING. With Diwali and Eid done and over with (it’s so sad to see these days pass us by so quickly, isn’t it?), it’s time to enjoy the festivities of our America too. ’Tis the American holiday season – let’s enjoy it with as much zeal as we did the desi season. We’re truly lucky to get to enjoy two sets of holidays.

Let’s first give thanks and appreciate the fine fall/winter collections runways presented us this past month. Saris are back. Chiffons and silks are ruling, with intricate foil and embroidery patterns, leaving no room for more generic-looking georgettes. Women, platform heels and wedges are so in style right now. Do not mess up the look with flats or chappals – please! Saris in solid shades are prominent now, with pastels leading the pack. Lilacs, sea greens and baby pinks are in demand, even for formal night events. Foil work on these saris creates an even more dramatic, contrasting feel. Your sari and you will shine and sparkle all night. Blouses should be custom-to-fit, and not long-sleeved. Opt for short-sleeved or sleeveless styles, including halter tops, spaghetti straps, and strapless tops. I must warn you that the one shoulder look is temporarily out. Keeping it simple but trendy is key.

Leave the pantsuits and salwars for simple home gatherings. Even fancy dinner parties at a friend’s house require a casual sari this season. For poojas and super-easy occasions, however, opt for pantsuits/salwar kameezes with slight embroidery and gold/silver patterns. It’s all about the heels this time around. Take off the stilettos as soon as you get to the party, but wear them for your grand entrance. Flats have to be put away until next spring to create the latest fashion do’s.

We women aren’t quite the delicate species we are without the support of a man’s man. So, men, we always think of dressing you up as good as we look. Fancy up a kurta pajama with a dupatta for home crowds. For more formal gatherings, opt for a dark-colored Jodhpuri to contrast with the ladies’ feminine and light shades. Leave the sherwanis to the grooms of this season.

We wanted to thank everyone who read our article last month and who e-mailed us with their fashion questions and concerns. Follow the trend. E-mail us at and we’ll answer all your fashion dilemmas. Here’s this month’s Fashion Drama question of the month:

Q: Hi Kiran. How do I know what type of bindi to wear that would complement my face and outfit? I always get confused when in a rush and trying to pick out just the right one. Thank you – Hetal, Pembroke Pines, FL

A: Well, first let’s examine your face type. For rounder faces, opt for smaller, rounder shaped bindis. For heart-shaped, oval, and long faces, choose long and thin ones. As for color, choose an exact shade of the outfit for the bindi. If it isn’t possible at the time, choose a silver, gold or other neutral bindi shade to match up to the outfit. On to location, location, location. If wearing a tikka, wear the bindi right between your eyebrows. If you’re just wearing a bindi, wear it ½” above your eyebrows, making sure it’s perfectly centered.

Thanks again for your feedback and questions. Enjoy the holidays, spend time with your closest and loved ones, and 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.


Amita Patel was quite young when she began painting. She focused her entire energy on her passion for colors and their medium, in the process winning several prizes. At the age of 12, she was chosen as one of 20 first-prize winners in the UNICEF-sponsored international children’s drawing competition in Paris. Subsequently, her award-winning painting on the theme of a springtime festival was picked to commemorate the 25th year of UNICEF through a 1974 Indian stamp.

“I always wanted to be an artist,” says the Orlando resident. But she ended up pursuing something more rewarding monetarily – dress designing. In 1984, she opened Vulcal, an upscale women’s boutique in Baroda. It was a business that eventually brought her half way around the world from her native Baroda.

“I realized that many of my customers found it difficult to visit my boutique there as frequently as they would have liked to, because they now live in the United States,” she says. “The result of her realization was that she began to take her dress designs to her customers, rather than wait for them to come to her.

She continued to tour several U.S. cities regularly to market her designs and displayed her wares to Florida’s Indian community through shows and exhibitions. And it wasn’t before long that in 2003, she opened the 1,200-square-foot Vulcal Boutique on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando.

But of course the heart and most of the original business is still in India, which she visits at least thrice a year. Back in Baroda, more than 70 employees work on the intricate embroidery of her dresses, some of which require painstaking manual skills. But the creation begins on Patel’s palette, where she carefully chooses colors, cuts and embroidery according to the design before the workers take over.

Patel is known for her designer saris, blouses, salwar-kameezes, ghagra-cholis and traditional shararas in cotton, silk and polyester. “I am very quality conscious,” she says. “New designs constantly come to my mind because I am an artist. I tell my customers to trust me and let me do my job. I like to take up a challenge.”

She won’t divulge names but says that Vulcal does supply designer clothing to wholesale stores in New Jersey and Chicago.

For more information, call Vulcal at (407) 718-4737 or click on

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