Indian Summers Costume Recap: Episode 2

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I’m excited enough about Indian Summers (now airing in the US on PBS) that I’ve decided to write a costume recap for each episode, so we can dish about what we liked and didn’t like. Keep your eyes peeled each Friday for a new post, and check out our recap of episode one!

In this, the second episode, we’re given a lot more clues to the many secrets lurking in 1930s Simla, India. And more clothes!

We start off with Madeleine in a beautiful silvery silk robe. This color seems to be Her Thing, and she sticks with throughout the episode. It’s a very “modern” (in the deco sense), urban color palette to me, and very different from all the other female characters.

2015 Indian Summers

Meanwhile brother Eugene goes full smoking jacket:

2015 Indian Summers

Alice spends most of the episode in this ensemble: pale white/grey/yellow print blouse, and cream linen skirt. Compared to Madeleine, she’s very naturalistic. I love the godet insets on her skirt. My one annoyance was that she wore her hair down for most of the day, even when going out. Clearly she’s supposed to look more informal, but I question the appropriateness of the hair.2015 Indian Summers 2015 Indian Summers

Cynthia is so obviously keeping an eye on everyone that she literally is watching them with binoculars, while wearing a fabulous embroidered red kimono-style robe:
2015 Indian Summers

And Afrin’s family embodies clothing code-switching, with youngest sister Shamshad in a British-style school uniform, while mother Roshana and older sister Sooni are in saris:
2015 Indian Summers

I’m very much not an expert in Indian clothing history, but I thought it was interesting that both Sooni and Roshana have choli tops with puffed sleeves. I’m used to seeing modern-day cholis with fitted sleeves, but the puff is an interesting nod towards 1930s Western fashion styles.

2015 Indian Summers

Note Sooni’s puffed choli sleeve (right, in orange).

2015 Indian Summers

Roshana’s sleeves also have that puff.

Ralph spends a lot of this episode stressed, trying to handle an exploding situation. He does it in a beautiful cream three-piece suit. I love the long collar points, and the wide lapels on the suit jacket — both are 1930s to a T:

2015 Indian Summers

Sharp dressed man.

Compare Ralph’s super-sharp look with Eugene, whose bow-tied ensemble just reads Col. Sanders to me. I’m still unclear on his character, but my visual read is that he’s not the least bit suave, despite being rich:
2015 Indian Summers

I didn’t mention tea baron Stafford Armitage or his nephew, Ian, in my last recap, mostly because they weren’t wearing anything really remarkable. This time, Armitage (a serious alcoholic) continues his country bumpkin look:

2015 Indian Summers
2015 Indian Summers

I particularly liked the detail on Armitage’s pants. Notice how they’ve been let out at the center back, by adding a panel of different colored material. Clearly not a guy who spends much on clothes!


Armitage is contrasted with clearly well-off, and very English assimilated, neighbor Ramu Sood. Armitage clearly thinks he’s high above Sood just by virtue of being English, despite owing him money and Sood being dapper as all get-out.
2015 Indian Summers

Meanwhile, back at Ralph and Alice’s palatial home, Alice and Madeleine get a visit from Sarah and Dougie. Here’s Madeleine in another example of her pewter look:

2015 Indian Summers

Love that bow.

While Sarah and Alice are in delicate floral prints on white backgrounds:2015 Indian Summers

Alice decides to check in on Aafrin, and throws a camel-colored shawl over her hair:

2015 Indian SummersShe visits Aafrin’s family, spilling the beans to father Darius that Aafrin has been shot. So far, Darius has been wearing traditional Indian clothing:

2015 Indian Summers

But now that’s off to the English hospital to visit his son, there’s a scene of him dressing in Western-style clothes, including a shirt and tie:2015 Indian Summers

During all of this, we find out that Leena works at a missionary school along with Dougie. Adam, the rescued boy, has run away. Leena spends most of the episode searching for him while wearing the same sari as in episode one. I couldn’t get a screenshot of it, but when she finally finds Adam and hugs him, you can see a split in the shoulder seam of her choli top. Clearly, Leena does not have money for clothes!
2015 Indian Summers

Sarah tries to get closer to Dougie, who deflects her with a trip to the polo grounds at the Royal Simla Club. Sarah wears a blue plaid windowpane-print dress, with pleated edging and lace inset:

2015 Indian Summers

And Dougie is clearly trying to placate his wife by dressing up for the occasion. This is the first time we’ve seen him in a jacket:
2015 Indian Summers

Ralph and friends go sporty in white and cream polo clothes:


2015 Indian Summers

After the game, there’s dancing at the club. Madeleine sticks with her pewter palette, this time in what on close inspection turns out to be a black and white windowpane-patterned dress with great shoulder button details:
2015 Indian Summers

2015 Indian Summers

Also, THOSE EARRINGS.

Later, she seduces Ralph in a slinky, bias-cut, silk charmeuse nightgown that is all 1930s glamour. The color is slightly more towards cream, but it’s still in her pewter palette:
2015 Indian Summers

Finally, Aafrin sees Alice in some kind of dream sequence, where she’s wearing the same linen skirt as above, but this time with a solid white blouse:2015 Indian Summers

And Dougie is off to his school in yet another jacket, while Sarah gets left at home in the pink dress she wore in episode one:

2015 Indian Summers

What did you think of episode two’s costumes?

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About the author

Kendra

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Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

2 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    I’m enjoying INDIAN SUMMERS immensely. My favourite characters are Madeleine and Aafrin. I love Madeleine’s clothes sense. But dying to find out what Cynthia has revealed to Ralph. Madeleine’s style rivals that of another American, one with less money to spend. I’m speaking of Wallis Warfield Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. Alice is what a well-bred ‘virgin’ should wear. Boring, dull and pedestrian. Sarah tries too hard.

    • Kendra

      Yes! Madeline is totally Wallis Simpson (I said the same thing in my recap of episode one). And I too am dying to know what secrets lurk behind Cynthia and Ralph’s relationship, and also Madeleine and her brother seem to have some secrets too…