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Desi Diva

By Shilpa Arora

Summer Style

Plus the secret to bringing the beach to work

Q: This summer I have several weddings and parties to attend and a pretty small clothing budget. What pieces should I look for?

The first thing to remember is that it really is possible to shop on a budget and still maintain your summertime joie de vivre. Before entering a shop, decide on how much you’re willing to spend – and promise to stick to it. Plan on buying as many high quality outfits that work with the budget you’ve set for yourself. But more importantly, try to choose clothes that will have a life beyond the summer wedding season.

If you’d like to go mainstream a cream or off-white sundress or one with a soft floral pattern is a classic and timeless option. This is the perfect time to show a little skin, so don’t be afraid to experiment! Dresses with scoop necks, halter or spaghetti straps – or even dresses that are backless – can be tantalizing yet elegant.

Model: Anita Choudhary

For ethnic occasions, try a salwaar kameez or lehenga with festive, eye-catching patterns. Silk is always an excellent standby, but other materials such as crushed tissue, georgette, and crepe can be equally fabulous, especially if they’re complemented by beadwork, sequins, chikna or mirror work. Decorative embellishments are guaranteed to glam up the ensemble!

Q: Casual gypsy skirts are really in this summer and seem like a great choice for a picnic or the beach. But are there ways I can dress up the look for work?

A: To kick the look into work mode, find skirts in solid, bold colors and pair them with a black t-shirt and fitted jacket. Black is both neutral and classic – and the quickest way to give you a polished look. Accessorize with chunky earrings or a bold, layered necklace in a primary color. (Choose one over the other though -- if you wear both you’ll risk channeling Mrs. Roper.) Keep hair professional: a low ponytail or chignon is a sexy but safe bet.

Because gypsy skirts have an inherent bohemian flavor, your choice of footwear will be the deciding factor in whether you’re headed to the office or the seashore. To keep your look 9-5, stay away from mules or espadrilles and slip on flat, closed-toe shoes instead. This season’s sequined and patterned ballet flats are a great way to satisfy your urge to work and play!

Q: I'm apple-shaped, meaning my legs are the leanest part of my body. I really love to wear South Asian clothes but I worry that they make me look round. Are there any ethnic outfits that won't overpower my frame?

A: Yours is a common silhouette, and there are several options to choose from that will help you flaunt what you have! Salwaar kameezes, which give you a long, stylish contour, are an excellent choice. Lean toward modern parallel sets made of chiffon or cotton that feature mid-length tunics (kameez) and long trousers (salwaar). The slim cut of the trousers will highlight your lean legs while the tunic will help give you a shapely mid-section.

Lehengas that are made of silk or satin are also good figure-flattering options. If you have a full bust, go for navel-length cholis that have a structured bodice and higher neckline. You might want to avoid crepe lehenga skirts that have multiple folds – this will only accentuate your torso. Instead, apple shapes should highlight their lean legs and stick to either straight or fuller cuts.

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The best solution for finding clothes that suit your individual style and shape is to get your outfits custom made. A good tailor can help you pick fabrics and styles that work for your body – after all, one size doesn’t always fit all!

Shilpa Arora is a California-based freelance writer. She has written on various subjects ranging from fashion to health and wellness.

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