A short while ago, my wonderful reader and Ukrainian Vignettes book giveaway winner Sunita Kripalani sent me an amazing surprise gift: two incredibly gorgeous tie-dye dupattas. She enclosed a detailed note on how to take care of them and some tips on how to wear them. Traditionally, theses beautiful gauzy scarves in endless variety of colors and patterns are worn over the head or over the shoulders. Young Indian women who prefer contemporary fashions still give a nod to tradition by wearing dupattas as neck scarves, shawls or sashes.
And while all those ideas are great, I wanted to figure out a way to wear a dupatta as the main garment instead of an accessory. What finally gave me a nudge was the arrival of our typical North Carolina "coming-of-summer" weather: hot and humid. Anyone who had ever lived in or visited the south east any time between May and early October knows what I am talking about - especially if you stayed at an old house (like ours) with no central air. These are the days when all you want to do is either stand under a cold shower or lay sprawled out under a window air conditioner surrounded by numerous bottles of ice water. "Ah," thought I, "where are those dupattas?"
I first chose to wear the orange and dark-green dupatta as a sarong skirt with a white tank top and white sandals. I could have tied the ends, but I pinned them on the side with a little brooch for a neater look and was very pleased with the result. I had no problem moving around, sitting, standing or even napping in it. The crinkly fabric was perfect for hiding wrinkles and the overall effect was bright, colorful, cool and very comfy.
I think I will continue to wear this particular dupatta as a skirt, because orange is not the best color for me when too close to my face - it brings out the yellow tones in my skin and makes me look a tad jaundiced. I could probably get away with the look as is for a pool party or a beach trip. For everyday use, I would wear it with a short-sleeve t-shirt, a half-slip (the fabric is very gauzy and translucent) and some fun earrings and bracelets and / or anklets.
The second dupatta is a better color scheme for me - dark red and black - so I decided to try it as a dress. Thanks to my short height, the width of the scarf was sufficient to hit me just at the knee - a perfect length for me. I did have to wear a slip under it - a short, nude-color strapless one I use with strapless and off-shoulder evening dresses. It took a few tries to wrap it around just right, but I finally got it!
This might look complicated, but actually, the entire thing is held together by one cleverly hidden safety pin. It may seem like a flimsy structure indeed, but it is quite secure and comfortable, I assure you. As with the sarong skirt, I can move around as freely as ever in this improvised little dress, while remaining cool and breezy. Dangly copper-tone earrings with red ceramic inlays complete the look, although I think I could also throw in some bangles.
Worn with white wedges, this look can go to the beach or a casual party. However, I do want to experiment with strappier dressier shoes, more interesting jewelry and an updo, and see if I can push it as far as a Friday night out.