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Devising wardrobes for the festive occasion is no child’s play. One could almost put it down to a science; coupling myriad outfits with the right combinations of hair, make-up and accessories. Day looks and evening looks need to be envisioned and presiding over all decision-making is a single, most important factor: the climate.

On the heels of a sweltering Ramazan, Eid this year is expected to be a humid, stifling affair and sartorial decisions need to be made accordingly. Go overboard with dressing up and you will possibly be sweaty and harried halfway through Eid day. Play it cool and you miss out on the fun of dressing up.

The key, then, is to dress intelligently. And we have asked some of our favourite fashion experts how to make a statement on Eid while beating the heat …

Keeping it simple seems to be the key to creating your Eid outfit this year

LADIES, KEEP IT LIGHT!

In our part of the world, formal wear automatically conjures up images of labyrinthine embroideries but they can hardly be considered fashion forward. They are, in fact, far too commonplace to make much of an impact and besides, it is too hot to wear multiple layers of embellishment. This is probably why we see quite a few designers rerouting their festive collections towards interesting silhouettes, colourways and prints.

The young and talented Natasha Kamal, for instance, made a decisive move towards prints with marbled effects in her collection for Fashion Pakistan Week this year. She outlines her recommendations for Eid: “My focus this year has been on colour, cut and silhouette rather than dousing fabric in embellishment. I have leaned towards simple colour blocks and abstract prints in fluid cuts. For those seeking more traditional looks, hints of self-embroidery in neutral or pastel shades like peach, mint green and lemon sorbet create delicate and feminine looks. I have also occasionally opted for small doses of bold embellishments in jewel tones.”

“Considering the season, I have utilised breathable fabrics like cotton net, metallic soft net and georgette chiffon with seamless linings in order to avoid the fuss of layers. The silhouettes need to be relaxed. Mid-lengths have made a comeback and look quite elegant.”

Designer Zara Shahjahan, meanwhile, has focused on lawn with her Eid collections. “I have used a lot of Swiss lawn, khaddi and hand-woven fabric. I didn’t want to use linings because it’s really hot and my focus is on creating stylish but comfortable designs. I have always preferred solid blocks of colour and avoid too much print. My festive-wear collections this time run the gamut from my signature whites, off-whites, beiges and blacks to aquas, pinks and some very bright floral prints. The silhouettes are quintessentially chic and traditional: kurtas, shalwars and straight Lakhnavi pants, among others.”

Even designers with a penchant for embroidery have shown a predilection for soothing colour palettes and light handwork. Zaheer Abbas’ festive ‘Tanka’ features delicate embellished florals on a pastel canvas. Nida Azwer’s signature handwork has been mixed in with mirror work on light hues. Deepak Perwani has opted for screen prints and block prints with minimal embroidered details.

Fledgling brand Lulusar has worked their distinctive colour blocks and stripes with tiny, offbeat embellishments. Afsheen Numair’s label Blocked owes its burgeoning clientele to its quirky block prints. Embroideries are more or less minimal with the focus on a mélange of flora and fauna flitting about the fabric: deer, rabbits, birds, stripes, polka dots, et al!

PASTELS FOR MEN

Men, similarly, need to stay away from synthetic fabrics — for the sake of comfort and also because they’d really look silly braving the heat in thick brocades and jacquards. According to designer Perwani, the pure cotton kurta shalwar with subtle, minimal embroidery is the savviest way to go. “Our menswear line features classic chikankari kurtas in cotton. They aren’t over the top while simultaneously looking formal,” he says. “Kurtas in basic blacks, browns and greys have their market but we have also stocked a range of pastel colours: ice-blue, pink, light mauve, light grey, mint green. I think the palette is perfect for the current weather.”

At Republic by Omar Farooq, the focus is on a play of textures. Farooq has blended cotton and viscous with a slight bit of silk to create fabric which looks like formal bosky but is breathable. Giving a stonewashed effect to cotton and viscous blends for a powdery finish, a range of summer-friendly kurtas has been created with chikankari as well as basic khaddar and karandi. “I have seen that men generally don’t like to experiment with traditional-wear which is why we have experimented with fabrics rather than silhouettes. There’s plenty of teal in our traditional-wear range — it’s my favourite colour for the season — as well as creamy white, burgundy, khaki and steel grey.”

FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY-FREE

Let your feet breathe in slip-ons, mules, kolhapuris and khussas — preferably in bright pops of colour! The very creative Quratulain Ansari of Chapter 13, for instance, has come up with an exuberant line-up of shoes embellished with quirky florals, sea animals, bead work and fringes. There are more casual options in cotton and silk for formal occasions.

The realm of men’s shoes is far more sedate, although the male aficionado may find some interesting options, should he care to seek them out. Hammad Ahmed of TSM & Co. runs a business that thrives on handmade shoes that can be ordered bespoke or purchased via their store in Karachi or online. According to Ahmed, his clientele prefers shoes over the customary sandals and khussas for Eid. “Increasingly, men are choosing to pair their kurta shalwars with shoes. A lot of customers now come to us for slip-ons. There will, of course, always be a demand for the traditional browns and blacks. The more adventurous among our clientele ask for bespoke design details like handmade finishes in unique colours like emerald green, navy blue and grey.”

Meanwhile, Markhor — a shoe label that has made a mark with meticulously handmade leather shoes for men — predominantly sticks to classic hues and designs. Myriad versions of the Peshawari chappal, loafers and wing-tips are consistently visible in the brand’s collection of shoes, which stand out because of their fine leather finishings.

FINISHING TOUCHES

But what would the right wardrobe and shoes be without some carefully-thought-out grooming? Stylist Nabila pinpoints hair and make-up trends for Eid: “Make-up finishes need to be creamy and well-blended rather than powdery. It’s also important to opt for foundation that is not visible so that the skin looks dewy, clean and not over made-up. For some fun, I recommend bright lip colours: a clear orange, pink, peach or red.”

Bold hair colours can also be a statement. “Colours that are very visible, like latte blonde, red-brown or hazel. It needs to be a colour that suits your complexion, of course. Fair-skinned women can easily carry lighter coloured hair while women with dark skins need to choose hues that are more subtle. There is also a growing trend for pastel hair colours such as grey, blue or pink, added to the ends of the hair or on one side. It’s young, edgy and really stands out,” says the stylist.

She is a big fan of innovative hair styling for women with long tresses: “Just one side of the hair can be intricately braided so that it looks undercut on one side. The hair can also be embellished with distinctive accessories.”

For men, she says, “The demand is primarily for short, slick, barbered looks. An undercut look really suits men also. It’s best to keep it simple.”

‘Keeping it simple’, in fact, seem to be the key words for defining sartorial choices for Eid. Know your personal style, be prepared to experiment just a bit, try to walk that fine line between style and comfort and you’re good to go!

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 10th, 2018