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Beachwear - Bare Necessities


The inviting sun, sand sea merit their own special kind of wardrobe. Beachwear comes of age as a riot of colour explodes in cotton, Lycra, linen and viscose.

Fashion in India has taken a new turn. Gone are the days when the sari reigned supreme. Gone are the days when Indian men and women were hesitant to show more than an ankle. Today fashion in India has its definite divisions. There is formal wear and there is informal wear. The first group is further sub-divided into semi-formal and bridal wear and the latter is divided into casual, sports and beach wear.

The last variety in the informal wear category is the most colourful and popular. In a country where the weather is conducive enough to encourage the people to go to the beaches and seaside, Indians obviously like to dress for the occasion and the location.

Beachwear revolves around colour and comfort-the two main criteria around which designers create their garments. In no other category of garments is there more unisex styling as there is in beachwear. For what is good enough for him, is good enough for her.

Beachwear comprises shorts, burmudas, T-shirts, shirts, bikers shorts, swim wear of course and sarongs, informs Ravi Ratnam of Mischief that stocks large varieties of styles for men and women in the beachwear group. There was a time when a pair of shorts were rather simple, in staid dull colours like beige, white or navy. A pair of shorts in the nineties is printed, striped, dyed or shaded. From their short length they have moved to Bermudas the popular garment that gets its name from the sunny island of Bermuda. The difference between a pair of shorts and burmudas is that while the former ends just below the hips, the latter ends just above the knees. Bermudas are very popular for beach wear with both men and women because they are more sober and less revealing. Bikers shorts in Lycra are a more skin tight and clinging version of the Bermudas, adds Ratnam.

There might be an occasion at the beach party at sunset or a fireside barbecue. Here the accent on clothes will be definitely casual but they can have attractive cover-ups like a mesh top over a T-shirt or a clinging knit sweater.

Tops are normally loose, baggy shirts or T-shirts and at times even vests. For women it is the tube top or a cropped tank top that is most favoured. When it comes to fabrics for beachwear, the choice is between Lycra and of course cotton, linen or viscos. Silk and polyster (except in Lycra) are not favoured. Coclour tones are always vivid and wild. Large floral designs in multi-colours. Stripes that are not exactly executive or sober in their looks but are thick parallels that are combined to appear in a myriad colours. Abstracts are also a favourite as long s they are bright and bold solid colours cannot be totally ignored. But they have a lot of flash and dash. Fire red, terrific turquoise, jade green or perfect pink. Colours that make an impact against the wild waters of the beach and the serene beige of the sand.

Swimsuits are now a part of the beach culture and for the water nymph who wants to while away her time on the sands and in the water there are several Indian brands that cater to her needs. Labels like Proline and Bata have been creating swim wear which is comparable to the best in the West.

The most exciting thing that has happened to beachwear and especially to the swimsuit is the sarong. This large piece of cloth that can be gently wrapped around a swimsuit or by itself adds that bit of glamour and formality to a swimsuit. The length of a sarong is the same as that of a dupatta. So the more adventurous ones can even make a dupatta double up as a sarong if the need arises.

Knowing how to tie a sarong is as important as choosing the correct swimsuit. There are two popular styles. One is with the ends crossed over and around the neck and tied at the nape. The other is with the ends tied around the waist with a knot at the side and enough leg room for movement. If one is not very keen on sun bathing then a sarong comes in very handy.

While one is talking about the various outfits that one can wear for the beach, accessories are equally important. For these, the best and easiest way is to add scarves to the garments. A scarf tied to the head, around the waist or held in the hand makes not only an attractive accessory but a useful one should the need arise to shade and protect the head from the harsh rays of the morning sun.

Sun glasses are an absolute must on the beach whether one likes it or not. There are enough brands available in the market which will match not only the type of garments worn on the beach but also the mood of the wearer.

Beachcombers love to while their days away on the sea front. A straw hat is something that one can’t ignore. It’s shady. It’s light and it is necessary if one wants to protect the skin. Accessories like jewellery are always kept to the bare minimum when one is on the beach. A pair of earrings or a bracelet is all that is required.

Fashion on the beach has become as exciting as in the city. What is required is a bit of imagination and the right garments to make an impact.