Bring in the chiffons this summer: Srutimala Duara



In our special summer series, celebrated individuals from India’s Northeast share their ways to beat the blistering summer heat. Stay cool and look chic this summer with head-turning fashion trends.


SRUTIMALA DUARA, who teaches English in Guwahati’s Handique Girl’s College and is a well-known writer and columnist tells us how she plans to cool off this summer


Well, summer is a hot sizzling season in Guwahati with the temperatures soaring and humidity rising making things unbearable. Though I’d have loved to spend more time at home with the sweltering heat of the bright sun outside, I know I cannot,  for I am a working woman and have also a hectic social life.



The clothes need re-sorting and this is the time when I reach out for my cotton sarees, but without starch. I find my stomach itching with the starched pleats tucked in! This was the reason why a few years back I had avoided wearing cotton sarees in summer when my colleagues in college happily wore them saying “Ah this is the season for cotton sarees!” They used to laugh when I said, “Cottons make me feel hot”. Now I too have started taking out my cotton sarees,  especially the handloom ones, which I simply adore. My collection of cottons consist mostly of  handloom ones with big contrast borders,  kalamkari,  katki, among others. I like them draped limply over my body. As in college we wear only sarees, I need quite a lot of them and also have to store them according to the season and occasion. This is also the time when I love to wear my chiffon sarees. Love the feather-touch feeling. A soft muga mekhela and cotton sador is a comfortable set, and I am going to  wear it this summer.  Silk is, of course, out of question.


Out of college, I prefer the long flowing skirts with simple cotton tops, and on my day out with my close friends,  on shopping spree with coffee breaks I prefer wearing my cotton trousers with some summery tops. I do not go for blings and glitter and sparkles on clothes. I hardly wear salwaars. This is one dress I am not fond of. I’d rather go for the churidar and very long kameez or the Anarkali than the salwaar. Nowadays, palazzos are in fashion and these are comfortable for the summer months. I have collected a few cotton ones to pair up with plain sleeveless tops or long kurtas.


In summer, parties are not as frequent as in the winter months. However, there are the social functions and meetings of the various organisations I am associated with. This calls for dresses according to the functions and gatherings. But no way would I go for silk. I like to wear my traditional cotton sarees of various states, and occasionally our Northeast tribal wraps for the evening functions. Collected quite a few recently! And for the formal meetings, cotton mekhela sador. Dread going for weddings in summer wearing silk mekhela sador sets! If there’s any wedding to attend this summer I plan to go in my cottons or chiffon.


At home, during the summer months, I am always in my long skirts.


I look forward to the month of July we get our summer vacation. This is the month when I travel a lot, be it in India or abroad. This July I will be in England for the month where my children are, with a two-week trip from London to a few places in Italy and Austria. Italy will be hot in July, I know, because I had been there three years back in July. As I will be doing a lot of sightseeing I plan to carry long-sleeve shrugs so that I don’t get a sun tan!!  And of course, I never forget to carry suntan lotion and my shades. And I drink plenty of water.


I have taken out from my lipstick collection the lighter shades of lipsticks  now that the sun is so bright . All darker shades of red and maroon are out for me whatever the fashion says! Bottles of deodorants and lotions are lined up on my bathroom shelf. Bought bigger bottle of shampoo and conditioners as summer sweating requires frequent hair wash. Geared up for the summer!


And of course,  I have my writing to do every day. As I plan to write another  novel in Assamese for  children this summer,  I am going to turn my bedroom into my writing room (as this is the only room in my house with AC) !