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.


Deepali Naair on her love for antique silver jewellery

everyday style, fashion


How did I start collecting antique silver jewellery?
Back in 80s and 90s, I used to be a kathak performer, very often on stage. Big and bold jewellery was a key accessory to the Kathak costumes. Because the glass bangles would break and I would get hurt during performances, my mother bought me silver jewellery which would not get stolen during costume changes and would also not break. The jewellery in those days was not finished in antique look but was the shiny silver glaring look ideal for the stage. Then came circa post MBA of the sales stint which took me travelling to villages in Orissa and also Tier 2 cities in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Once again the silver jewellery came to the rescue of the young Marwari bride who cannot be not wearing jewellery. This time it was worn with work clothes and not costumes and finished in antique style (polish). The silver jewellery from Rajasthan was a rage in Mumbai and the pieces were unique. Thus started a life-long habit of acquiring pieces which are unique. The collection is now my pride as it also reflects timeless taste and my sense of design. The best compliment I have received is from a young friend who requested that I include her in my will to inherit at least one of my pieces!


(Deepali Naair is Director, Marketing, India and South Asia, IBM)

Rajeshwari Jain shares her favourite looks

everyday style, fashion


Rajeshwari wears a creamish ivory cotton silk saree from Pallam Silks with a blood red and blue border accessorized with Kemp temple jewellery, sporting the traditional South Indian look and finished with a mogra gajraa hair accessory for her bun.


A pastel yellow chiffon shirt with minimal accessories defining her Corporate look.


(Rajeshwari Ashish Jain runs an organisation that empowers women.)

Mishta Roy on how her accessories make her happy

everyday style, fashion

Hello. I’m a 43 year old freelance graphic designer, living in Bangalore, with my husband and my six year old daughter. After I birthed her, I developed Peripheral Neuropathy, which is a progressive chronic condition where the nerves in my body degenerate, starting from my toes, feet, fingers, hands and inwards.
So my fashion choices are largely informed by my health. I wear lots of  long dresses in bright colours and prints, many of them from Zara to hide support shoes most of the time, and I accessorize with chic hats and sunglasses to match the gloves and walking stick that I have to use, to protect my hyper-sensitive skin. I have leopard print gloves, leather gloves with little bows, and many other designs that I have a lot of fun sourcing and collecting.

I also have to wear socks 24/7, so I think long and hard about buying awesomely cool socks, from Hong Kong based websites like Shein, and  Lulu and Sky, among others.
The same with shoes. I need to wear soft flats that causes the least amount of pain to my damaged feet. I love Clarks. I was recently thrilled to be able to wear a really pretty floral shoe I found tucked away in Westside!
Fashion cheers me through my painful condition and keeps me positive and feeling youthful as I age.

Priya Narendra shares her quirky style

everyday style, fashion

Inspired by a father who loved being stylish even when impoverished or restrained by the demands of a government job, I have always enjoyed putting my own spin on style. Bandanas around my hair, scarves around the knee, dresses worn with churidars, dramatic earrings etc were all part of my hatke take on fashion back when I was in college. When I began working in advertising, salwar kameez was the norm, and wearing business suits or pants and formal shirts with a tie was considered avant garde (!) but I did it anyway. To me, getting ready every morning is almost like putting on a costume for a role in a play – who am I going to be today?

A few years ago, the saree pact rekindled my love for the saree – at one point in time, I had vowed to have one saree of each type woven in India, before I realised the number of distinct weaves India is home to! But I was determined to own the saree look in a way that made it super comfortable for me. So I discarded the ubiquity of the saree blouse and took to wearing sarees with whatever top felt convenient – fitted white shirts, t shirts, crop tops and the like. It was a great way for me to make the saree as easy a choice as western wear when dashing out the door every morning.

One of my fashion dreams was to start a label that made western wear out of Indian fabrics suited to Indian weather, especially our never-ending summer – jackets with a muslin lining, not synthetic, and dresses that wouldn’t hug me too close for comfort in our sticky monsoons. Now there is a host of fashion labels has sprung up which does this with panache. In the hot Delhi summers, if I’m not in a saree at work, I’m usually in one of many anti-fit cotton or muslin dresses, Ikat pants and the like.

A constant challenge, thanks to an auto-immune problem, is that my size varies hugely – between water retention, weight gain and a bad gut. As a result I have found that if I pre-plan an outfit, typically on the day I will find it’s not fitting well, feels uncomfortable, makes me look fatter etc etc. So serendipity plays a huge role in helping me pull an outfit together for any occasion. At least, that’s my excuse for an ever-expanding wardrobe J!

My Must Haves:


Accessories – they can make or break an outfit. Shoes, bags, jewelry, scarves, hats – and the more expressive of your unique style, the better, be they never so weird. They add so much pizazz to the most sober outfits, and make the outfit you! Plus they make the same dress or jacket look so different each time. One of my prized possessions is a necklace made of zips with temple motifs – it looks so rich and distinctive. Another, a nod to my love for writing, is a necklace made of fountain pen nibs!

Antifit dress (1)

Dresses – drapey and anti-fit for the most part, since my size varies and we have 8+ months of gruelling summer

sarees and tops

A variety of sarees, especially in ikats, and an array of versatile crop tops, Tshirts and fitted shirts to pair with them

Just being me

Most of all, my mantra is that I must feel comfortable and confident in what I am wearing, and it must express my identity. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t considered ‘in vogue’ currently, I’ll still wear it if I love it. And if it is in vogue but I don’t love it, I’m never going to wear it.

(Priyadarshini Narendra, 48, is a marketing professional with over 25 years of experience in advertising, consulting and trend spotting. She is currently Head of Brand Solutions with the Hindustan Times group. A published author, she is also a moody chef, serial hobbyist, fashion aficionado and mother to three human children and two canine ones.)