Archana Pai Kulkarni on her personal style

everyday style, fashion

The wonderful Archana Pai Kulkarni on her personal style.

About yourself: I am a dreamer. Over the years, I have moved from dreaming of the improbable to dreaming of the doable. I was a homemaker by choice for fifteen years, during which I wrote poems, fiction and features, and freelanced a bit. I taught English privately, to the students of grade nine and ten for about six years, during which I was also Book Advisor with Time Life Books. Later, I joined New Woman, and edited the women’s magazine for 17 years. Quitting in 2015, I went on to learn yoga and am a certified yoga teacher. I also completed a nutrition re-education programme and familiarised myself with natural living. Currently, I’m Consulting Books Editor with SheThePeople, and an independent editor of books and content. I’m struggling with the last draft of my first proposed novel. I’m a nature-walk addict, and I type with one finger.

Personal style: I have never been a blind follower of trends. My accent has always been on comfort first. I tend to wear bright colours. Of late, my style has evolved into a bohemian, free-spirited one. The dash of colour stays. So also the focus on natural fabrics and simplicity.

Signature style statement: Blue denim jeans or ankle length jeans and a white shirt, or an oversized shirt (which my mother and mother in law think is three sizes too big; they are sure I have bought the wrong size) with a cross body bag, and canvas trainers or sandals with a low heel. Give me a sling bag any day, over a handbag. There was a time when I carried the world in a large bag with umpteen compartments. Not anymore. I have begun travelling light. On regular days, my face is scrubbed clean. On days when I go out, I apply some Evion moisturiser, a dash of lip balm, and some kohl. For an event or social occasion, it’s MAC Studio Tech foundation, MAC Lust lip gloss, some blush, and Maybelline Kohl.

Closet favourites: My AND cuff, a 35-year-old silver Ganesha ring, my worn-out canary yellow sling bag, my oversized striped Zara shirt (it’s my uniform), cotton knee-length palazzos, and a couple of bright Fabindia skirts.

Favourite brands: I’m not into brands. I root for affordable chic. Having said that, I combine roadside finds with cloths from Zara, Westside, Anokhi, AND (by far, my favourite. Fits perfectly), Global Desi, Lifestyle, Fabindia, W, Biba, OMO, and some online stores. The jeans are mostly cigarette jeans of brands that fit well. My best find was a white chikankari AND shirt which I hope to get back into, and two self-embroidered export surplus shirts I bought on the pavement at Khodadad Circle, years ago.

A particular dressing hack that you find yourself using all the time: An ankle-length dress with a scarf or stole. I wear stoles all the time. Blue denim jeans and a

Your biggest fashion faux pas you’ve ever made:  I’m a safe dresser, not given to too much experimenting. But once, I got too adventurous, and ventured out in a brand new pair of stilettos. It was an insane idea. Needless to say, it was like walking on a tightrope with my ankles protesting and wobbling and the shoe straps silently eating into my skin, leaving red welts. I was flashing a fake smile through it all till the shoes decided to dislodge me from my six-inch pedestal. That was one nasty fall. I haven’t ventured
anywhere near a pair of stilettos ever since!
Fashion philosophy: Comfort, good fit, clean lines, simple, and vibrant—that does it for me. It should take me through the day without incident, and with ease. And yes, it must make me feel happy.


Jo Chopra rocks the classic white shirt

everyday style, fashion



“They” say you never regret a good quality purchase but I have regretted buying this Phase Eight blouse many times over. It is a good one and I love both the fit and the look, but I still can’t believe I spent ONE HUNDRED POUNDS on it.
That’s just an aside, however. I love this classic outfit – the well-fitting blouse (the belt was my daughter-in-law’s suggestion. She said “Without it, Mom, it just looks like a man’s big shirt.”), the closely tapered trousers (on sale at Global Desi from the AND line) and, of course, the amazing Cole Haan boots which automatically make me feel confident and dramatic.
The other thing that’s made a difference is makeup. My daughter treated me to a makeover while I was in the US recently along with an entire collection of judiciously selected products. Women have different needs as they get older and a few intelligent but small changes can go a long way in achieving a fresh, attractive look. I discovered Dominique Sachse’s older women video series on Youtube and though I’ve never been into makeup or glamour, I love the style tips she suggests.
They’re fun, easy and effective and at 61, I love being as excited as a teenager about getting dressed up, made up and heading out each day. I have a serious, changing-the-world job that is my passion and my mission so it’s a relief to have something silly and just plain fun to amuse myself with as well.

Because I rarely dress up and get out…

everyday style, fashion

I have immense admiration for fashion bloggers, instagrammers, vloggers who actually think about their style and plan their looks, and click themselves whenever they’re out, I invariably forget to do so, or feel a tad embarrassed to ask someone to click me. I rely on the kindness of friends for pictures of me in public situations, so thanks Hira Mehta for this pic from yesterday’s Bombaywaali by SheThePeople Summit at Fun Republic Social, Mumbai.


Interestingly I got back to wearing dresses in my forties. I used to wear a lot of them through college and early 20s and then stopped, because heaven knows something someone said about my legs being too skinny for my body stuck in my head. In my forties, I was at I care two hoots about my legs being too skinny for my body I’m wearing dresses because I love how they make me feel and so here I am in one that I picked up on a complete impulse. I was early for a meeting at Infinity 1 in Andheri and strolled into Westside, this dress called out my name in dulcet tones and I was smitten. I love that it is a fake wrap style, and bold stripes and modestly just below the knee. It comes with a lining which is another important factor for me because I’m damned if I can figure out a chemise that is appropriate most times, and end up not wearing something that needs an inner layer.

The clunky shoes are my favourites. Ever since I can remember I’ve loved clogs since my dear maternal aunt who lives in Norway had introduced me to them. They’re cosy, comfy and allow me to walk while giving me much needed inches. Not one person who met me yesterday said “I thought you would be taller,” which seems to otherwise have become standard greeting when people meet me for the first time.  So here’s what I wore yesterday, what do you think?

Dress: Westside

Shoes : Brown Suede Clog from Catwalk

Neckpiece : Rasta shopping from Lokhandwala Market

Hair and teeth: My own.



Of jumpsuits and technical issues

everyday style, fashion


I have long been admiring the jumpsuit fad from the sidelines of the fashion universe until one fine day browsing through an online shopping site, I found one that called out my name and I ordered it pronto before I changed my mind. My mind, as you might have guessed by now has fickle as its middle name.

Knowing it was Shein, I ordered a XXL, else I would have to hack bits and pieces off myself in order to get into the jumpsuit. It arrived, I tried it on, it was suitably loose enough to be comfortable and then came the very important technical question. What if nature calls, and stridently at that? What then? I have watched the episode of Crashing where Lulu has a rather disastrous situation with a onesie and this jumpsuit as a consequence, of that fearful episode, lay neglected in the wardrobe for a while. Last night, going out for birthday dinner, had pulled on old jeans and camo jacket when my mom in law said, wear something new, it’s your birthday. This came to mind. I would be gone but a few hours, I told myself, the restaurant was a stone’s throw from home. And, most important, I would steer clear of liquids.

So here I am, jumpsuit from Shein India, Obi belt from Lulu & Sky, Shell top from I forget where, I’ve had it forever and ever and a couple of more evers, old faithful Hidesign embossed flower pattern bag and espadrilles from Clarks.

Making my fear fuel me…at the IBM Security Summit today

everyday style, fashion

The wonderful Deepali Naair invited me to give a talk at the IBM Security Summit today and the topic was making your fear your fuel.

When I opened my wardrobe to pull out what I would wear, I thought of my topic. I had already pulled out a black lace top and black trousers. Safe, comforting, I always wear black when I have to give a talk, it makes me worry less about my clothes, about inner wear showing through, about stains, I like to think it slims me down a tad for the camera, and trousers are comfort wear. I can move around on stage, I can climb up and down with ease.

Then I stopped myself. What have I always been most terrified about I asked myself, when it came to what I wore when giving a talk. I would do anything to avoid getting into a saree. I’m terrible at draping, can’t fuss about to fold and pleat perfectly, I can never get it perfect at the hem, so it goes up and down like gently bobbing waves, I’m always terrified it will unravel completely when I’m on stage, and that I’ll be standing up there gathering yards of fabric. I’m terrified I will impale myself on those safety pins and die a horrible death from septicemia, basically all the worst case situations I fill my head with.

So today, I wore a saree. I eliminated all my fears one by one. Wore a soft paisley print Satya Paul chiffon filched from my mother in law’s extensive collection, so I could drape it easily. Wore a metallic bronze Zara round t-shirt so I wouldn’t panic about skin show, bra strap show, etc Wore flat Kolhapuri chappals so there was no stress about tripping. Wore the pallu around my neck so it didn’t trail behind me and snag on something, and topple me head first into the stage lights. It was a first. But I think I can conquer this mind block too, what say?


Camouflage in a shirt dress

everyday style, fashion

I tell myself I should get solo pics clicked when I deign to dress up and then always completely forget all about it. For just this, I make a terrible fashion blogger, but this is not your regular fashion blog, is it? For one, it is regular everyday fabulously fierce women in their everyday looks. And it is a mood, getting things done, on the go. For another, I repeat shoes, accessories and what not. And for yet another, I have pics with some lovely, fierce ladies that I can help but share on this blog. Allow me some showing-offing, as the offspring would say.

So, yesterday I had a lovely chat with the exquisitely beautiful Lisa Ray for her memoir, Close to the Bone on a SheThePeople.TV FB live. Lisa looked divine in a deconstructed linen outfit, with embroidered slip on. I wore a green camouflage print shirt dress ordered off Myntra (no, this is not a paid promotion, alas) from a brand called Zima Leto.



“I don’t believe in labels.” Bestselling author Preeti Shenoy on her personal style

everyday style, fashion



“I’m a person who dislikes shopping—especially for clothes! It is extremely hard for me, to find a good fit in India. I think my body type is probably different from Indian women—I don’t know. In the UK, I used to find my fit very easily. Hence, when I find something where I like the fit, I tend to buy it in 2-3 colors. So, I’ve been told that I shop like a man. 🙂 I don’t mind though. I would rather paint or read than waste time shopping!”

I love boots, and I pick mine from various places around the world. When it comes to jeans—I find that Levis fits me well—especially their new revel shaping skinny, and that’s the one I wear. I also like some of the stuff from Global Desi and sometimes Ritu Kumar. But I don’t believe in labels. I have also got stuff from Max which fits so well.


I love sarees, but am very choosy about the kind I wear.  I am partial to handwoven sarees. When I wear sarees, I like to be completely traditional—and  I will pleat the pallu neatly. I don’t like to drape it without pleats around and ‘carry it on one arm’ which is the trend these days. I also like my traditional black metal or oxidized silver jewelry.”

I never spend time thinking about clothes and planning ‘what to wear’ for any occasion. I open my wardrobe just before my event or the occasion and decide in about 2 minutes. I then spend about ten minutes to get dressed. Make-up is minimal: an eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. That’s it. I think the best fashion accessory is a genuine smile.

Fashion shouldn’t have an age tag. You can be fashionable at any age. For me, fashion is what makes me feel good and confident—not someone else’s definition of ‘right and wrong’ and ‘what’s in and what’s out’.”

Preeti Shenoy is one of India’s highest selling authors, also a speaker, illustrator, blogger, observer. Have been featured on all major media including BBC world, Cosmopolitan, and Conde Nast.  Website:

Of camels and elephants: What I wore yesterday

everyday style, fashion

Not a ‘brand brand’ but just a quirky print that caught my eye while browsing at Central. The label says Sushila. What I loved were the funky camels and elephants, the comfort of a flowing long cotton shirt dress with a cord belt, and enough give to accommodate, errm my avoir dupois. Like?

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I confess with summer in Mumbai, I opt for cottons and linens in flowing styles. What are your go to looks for summer?

Viji Venkatesh on how Delhi and Mumbai have influenced her style

everyday style, fashion
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“Delhi. Where I was born and brought up. I began wearing sarees fifty years ago. When I was 17. Cotton ones from Handloom Emporium and Cottage Industries. My mother helped me choose them and was my role model on how to wear them. She was always so well dressed and her cottons always starched.
I loved Bengal cottons and the Sanganeri prints. Till today these are my favourite weaves. And when I drape a cotton saree it is an ode to Maiji.
As for Delhi , my soul is there. Amidst the ruins of Lodhi Gardens, wrapped around the columns of Connaught Place.
A cotton saree, a Jamdani from Dhaka to match the ivory of this iconic landmark Delhi is famous for. Crisp and cool , teamed with a black crop top.
When I wear a saree I feel like a queen and remember my growing up years in Delhi.”
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“45 years of my 67 in Bombay. The city that taught me I could do whatever I wanted to no matter what.
Where I found myself. The city that helped me peel off the many layers life wrapped around my persona. Daughter, daughter in law, wife, mother …and when they came off, there I was. Bombay gave me the confidence, courage and creativity to do my thing. To be whoever, however…wear my attitude on my sleeve, wear whatever I wanted to. The sea and the sweep of the city told me there are no boundaries and nothing wrong in dreaming. For its part the city has made my dreams come true.”
(Viji Venkatesh is Region Head (India & South Asia), The Max Foundation, Managing Trustee – Friends of Max, Trustee – Being Human, The Salman Khan Foundation. )

Jasmine Khurana on why the six yards are her cape

everyday style, fashion

The six yards are my cape! Anyday!


As a child, if you have seen your mother step out every single day for her workplace in the most graceful sarees, it is very natural to grow up absorbing a warm affinity towards the six yards. No wonder when I started working, saree it was every day to college. Years later too, with a small child and despite a war-like situation every morning, I remember wrapping myself in crisp cottons in summers and lush silks in winters in gross 5 mins and almost running to make it on time to be there for my school assembly every morning.  Delhi allows you to indulge in the luxury of having a different wardrobe every season and I made the most of the six years that we stayed there.

My long sabbatical from work was also a sabbatical of sorts from sarees. I’m back with a bang to draping them again in my second innings as a writer and Spoken Word Performer for most of my events now. Most of my collection of exotic silk and crepe sarees are hand-me-downs from my Mom and Mom-in-law. It feels like a fortune that I have inherited from them. Over the years, I have shopped myself mostly for cotton and linen sarees and love teaming them up with quirky blouses from ‘Muchukalis’. Their high necks, straight cuts and a comfort fit is just the way I want my blouse to be.


Fab India suits and dupattas (silks and cotton both) are my other go-to attire. My wardrobe has dupattas as old as 16 years brought from Fabindia stores in Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Kolkatta- places that we kept moving to over the last 20 years of our married life. The one in the picture is an absolute favourite Lucknowi suit with a pink floral cotton duppatta. (Fab India)


Lest I forget, once in a while when the mood is western, my inches oblige and I’m ready to make the effort of pulling a dress down my pleasantly plump frame, it’s always a Marks & Spencer. Cuts that camouflage my love handles and all that is buxom are the  best cuts- anyday 😉

(Jasmine Khurana was an economics professor and has now found her calling as a writer and a spoken word artist.)