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?
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’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: Www.preetishenoy.com
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?
I confess with summer in Mumbai, I opt for cottons and linens in flowing styles. What are your go to looks for summer?
“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.”
“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. )
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.)
“Favourite kind of clothes, casual, black mostly, Indian cottons, sustainable clothes, simple lines. No bling. Loads of oxidised silver etc. I love indigo too.”
Tee: Marks & Spencer
Jootis – The Shahpur Jat
Bag – Fossil
Jhumkaas – Jaypore
Silver bangles & neck – Ajit Bhawan, Jodhpur
Dress – Jaypore
Stole – Jaypore
Silver earrings, bangles & neck – Ajit Bhawan, Jodhpur
Slippers – Roadside Bombay
(Deeba Rajpal is a well known Food Writer, Recipe Developer and Food Stylist)
“I love wearing saris. Thanks to this 6-yard love of mine, my wardrobe consists of saris from practically every Indian state. When in a sari I sense elegance, and sub-consciously grace is infused in the way I carry myself. Having been a Tanpura accompanist to Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia ji, I have had a myriad opportunities to flaunt my collection on stage. “
“Comfort takes precedence over vanity, especially on vacation. Palazzos, a shirt over patiala salwars, harem pants, flowing skirts or even a churidar-kurta, are what go with me on a holiday. I must add here, despite being a plus size, I’ve never shied away from creating my own style quotient.”
(With over 2 decades of an advertising background, Geetha chose to follow her passion and explore the space of artiste management and event planning. Her close proximity to classical musicians opened new doors and she was approached to organise corporate shows. She has worked closely with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia ji, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma ji, Shubha Mudgal ji, Pt. Ajay Pohankar ji, Sonu Nigam ji, Shankar Mahadevan ji, and a few others. Geetha is also a writer and has co-authored a book wherein she’s written English synopsis for the 101 poems originally written in Hindi. Besides writing sleeve notes for over 200 classical music albums for Saregama (hmv), she has recently edited a soon to be launched book for a first time author.)
“Initially, as I aged, I felt a lot of insecurity about the signs of age, and not being a youthful woman anymore. This matters to me in several ways, professionally as well as personally. As a travel blogger, there’s a big emphasis on the attractive young women on Instagram who combine travel with modelling. However, I’ve decided at 59 to embrace my age, find a style that suits me, and feel confident no matter what. Who says that “older” women can’t be attractive? We need to rewrite the script!
I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, usually go for the mid-range stores like Fabindia and Cottons Jaipur and Anokhi. I bought the Banarasi sari at a shop in Varanasi and talked sales person down from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000 rupees. I was travelling (as a journalist) aboard the Maharajas’ Express train, so I knew the store was touristy and over-charging. Still, consider this a great bargaining success.”
Khajuraho: White cotton kurta and cream cotton trousers from Fabindia
Lucknow: Teal and green silk-cotton blend kurta and chiffon palazzos from Cottons Jaipur, Special Collection
Wedding: Black and silver silk Banarasi sari
Chittoor: Gold silk kurta from Fabindia with cotton turquoise skirt from the market
(Mariellen Ward is a digital storyteller who publishes the award-winning travel site Breathedreamgo.com, based on her extensive travels in India. She has a BA in Journalism, has been published in leading media outlets around the world, and lives up in the clouds in Rishikesh, India.)
“Delhi is brewing with ‘hot’ politics these days. But that’s not the only thing delhi is famous for! If you haven’t experienced the cool ‘Dilli ki sardi’ you don’t know what you are missing.
Nothing beats Delhi winters and the feel of winter clothes. You can snuggle yourself into your woollens, dig your heels deep into your boots, lose your stress and inhale the scent of winters. Be it your working place or any chill out zone; be it the cool sunlight or the deceiving winter fog!
I know what I need to wear to brave the winter winds. And when I want a little swag, I throw it on my mobile cover and dare them all!
That’s the attitude people! I don’t let anything or anyone come between that. Not any opinion, nor any stereotype and never my age. I keep my head held high. The only time that I ever look down is to admire my boots. I just bask in my winter gear: jackets, sweaters, scarfs, Uggs, boots and everything else. My world cannot get cozier or more comfortable.
I am loving my time, my age, I have never felt more relaxed or more beautiful. I am going to wear this attitude, over my heart and on my head across seasons, now and forever.”