Kinda Kurta

Guys, as usual, have it easy: no one cares what they wear—except to get married, maybe. For that, you need shoes. At the beach, though, anything is fine. Women are the ones who get stuck: wear anything,especially at the beach, and guys start looking like Tex Avery wolves. So women need cover-ups—all summer, all year—but, as with everything fashion-related, what you need changes. That's how it is.

This summer's hot—hot—new cover-up is the kurta: from India, it was originally a long, long-sleeved men's tunic with a henley collar. It joins such previous summer appropriations as the pareo, the boardshort and the sarong in the spotlight on the racks of twee little beach boutiques up and down the coast.

Like the boardshort, the kurta comes to you politely lifted from the menswear camp; unlike the sarong, it's something menswear designers seem comfortable sharing—to the point where, one thinks, it wouldn't be news if David Beckham wore a kurta. The kurta is, however, thenew thing in women's wear.

“I'd say the kurta's No. 1. It's kind of that Indian culture, that bohemian feel that's so popular right now,” says Erica Thomas, founder of Erica Dee boutique in Corona del Mar. “The kurta is cute 'cause it's fashionable—and not just over a bikini, but over jeans as well.”

This versatility has undoubtedly helped kurta sales; a sales clerk at Diane's in Newport Beach says, “We had a few come in, and we just sold them all overnight.”

Fortunately for those of us who are less than flush, the style is being knocked off all over—just watch TV and wait five minutes for the next Old Navy ad—and kurtas aren't the only, well, hot, thing on the beach this summer.

“I think tie-dye is huge for this summer,” says Merrilee Madrigal of Merrilee's Swimwear, in Laguna Beach. “I think that fashion right now is [following] a more bohemian hippie look, and swimwear changes with that. It's that bohemian, smaller, lower kind of fit.”

So it's low-rise andtie-dyed? So confusing and yet so utterly believable; and no doubt, for some, so old,conjuring memories of the “China Cat Sunflower” bootleg you bought in the parking lot the summer before giving law school a second chance.

And tie-dye isn't the only style being revisited. Jackie O-style sunglasses (big and round) are in again—which will fluster those of you correctly pointing out that big, round sunglasses have been available for, er, some time now. They have; as have other summer staples such as the sarong, the pareo, the Dr. Pepper beach towel and the boardshort. But that's okay; summer fashion is like all things summer: it doesn't make you try too hard.

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