Akron: 13 May 30: Appropriate Apparel

Let's talk heat. Specifically, let's talk about what to wear when it's hot.

It is ridiculously warm outside. As in 33 C about the time I left the office for the day. The world is hot and muggy and smells of baking horse manure. Them's the joys of living in buggy country - horse exhaust makes its presence felt, in little piles on the road and little wafts in the air.

It wasn't long after we got here that I realized that my planned summer wardrobe - T-shirts, light pants, a pair of shorts, a couple of skirts - really was more of a mid-to-late fall and early-to-mid spring sort of wardrobe. So I began looking for proper summer wear. Short-sleeved (or maybe even sleeveless) cotton blouses/shirts, another skirt, a sundress... I found some things here and there, some of which I quite like, and some of which will stay behind when we leave. As I did most of my shopping at thrift stores, this is an affordable option.

A weekend or few ago, we visited the local farmer's market, and I insisted on stopping at one particular stall. I wasn't sure where it was, exactly, although I knew it was at the end of one of those buildings, on the left-hand side. The last time we'd been there, I saw a skirt I liked, but by the time I had decided to buy it, it had begun to rain and the vendor had packed up for the night. So I was going to see if I could find it again. Did I? Yes and no.
I found the vendor again. I found what I thought was the skirt - lightweight cotton in shades of cream, slightly patchwork-y - but it was a size too small. I shrugged inwardly and went on browsing the merchandise. Shortly thereafter, I found another skirt, also shades of cream, with a bit of patchy-ness to it and some very nice self-toned embroidery. I've worn it six times since then, and I'm already quite fond of it. It's coming with me, no question.

After the farmer's market, we ended up at the local goodwill. I had figured by now that I had enough clothes to get me through, but the vintage rack was marked "Everything $4." I'm intrigued by vintage, if only by "how on earth could anyone stand to wear that?" and "I'm sorry, harem pants from the 80s are not vintage." So I flipped through the hangers, drawn by the possibility of an interesting find. A shine of gold on green caught my eye. I pulled it out. I'm not certain of its country of origin or name of the garment, but I believe "India" and "kurta and matching sarong." I tried the kurta on, and it fit me rather well. It looks hand-made, rather than factory. So yes, green tunic, gold embroidery around the neck and down the front, gold ornaments in stripes, slit up both sides to just below my hips. The sarong is a length of the same cloth that wraps around me twice and a bit, and properly folded, stays exactly where it's supposed to stay. I was looking forward to wearing it, although I was somewhat distracted by the little voices that kept saying "cultural appropriation" in my ear. Ah, well, at least it's fashion and not (as far as I am aware) something deeply - religiously?- significant.

So - I wore it one hot Friday. It was admired (as was the smoking deal I got on it - I have no compunction about telling people about my thrift shop scores) and a coworker originally from Indias said that the tunic looked Indian, but the sarong-type skirt wasn't quite right. I did a little further research, and I've come to the conclusion that the "sarong" is actually a shawl, and that the outfit is missing the matching pants. And now I have options. I can continue to wear it with the shawl as a sarong skirt. I can wear the tunic with black or complementary leggings. I could conceivably wear it over jeans - I'm told that's done by some of the more Western-influenced set. I could also look for complementary material and have light, loose pants made to go with it. So many choices... but in any event, the kurta is coming with me, too.