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
shirt.

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.

Jasmine Khurana on why the six yards are her cape

everyday style, fashion

The six yards are my cape! Anyday!

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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.

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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)

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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.)

Mariellen Ward of BreatheDreamGo on how she’s rewriting the script

everyday style, fashion
“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.”
 

MW Khajuraho

Khajuraho: White cotton kurta and cream cotton trousers from Fabindia 

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Lucknow: Teal and green silk-cotton blend kurta and chiffon palazzos from Cottons Jaipur, Special Collection
MW Wedding
 
Wedding: Black and silver silk Banarasi sari
 
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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.)

Dipali Taneja on her love for handloom sarees and traditional jewellery

everyday style, fashion

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“For a person who is not really interested in fashion or trends, the saree, evergreen and eternal, can become the default garment, especially as formal wear. If the said person is lazy and hates going to her tailor, mismatched blouses are a life saver! I also rarely buy sarees for myself: this beauty here is a gift from my daughter-in-law. I’m not sure of the fabric, but it is very soft and cool, and I was happy wearing it with an ancient Ikat blouse and dangling silver earrings.”

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“Handloom sarees are my great love: silks, cottons, even polycots, all have a special appeal. Weaves of different kinds fascinate me, and we have a huge range of weaves across the country. Traditional prints and printing techniques are fabulous too. I end up being given many wonderful sarees. The few that I buy for myself are often impulse purchases, bought when I’m buying a gift for someone! Silver jewellery, beads, pieces with exquisite craftsmanship all speak to me. I truly cherish my antique choker, made from my great-great-grandmother’s bajubund.”

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“My mother had a pair of ‘ponchiyaan’, kundan pieces strung on thick golden thread, worn as bracelets. My sister and I got one each, which we converted into necklaces by stringing them on pearls. Most of the blue and green meenakaari has worn off. I don’t really know how old these were. My parents got married in 1943, but I’m not sure if these were made then or earlier. I also love all my ‘junk’ jewellery!!! Come winter though, I am usually found in jeans and pullovers! Comfort is usually my highest priority! ”

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Nandini Srinivasan rocks both the saree and the little summer dress

everyday style, fashion
“I work in the tech industry (20 years and counting) , which in the name of “cool” has shed all sense of dress etiquette. So to keep my spirits perked up I love bringing a riot of colors to my wardrobe, and in my mind. It’s my way of dealing with the corporate madness within which I am deeply entwined.”
“My saree is a special gift from my niece who picked the hues of purple, orange and pink. It’s a very light Kanchi silk and I decided to pair it with a bright orange halter blouse  and long earrings.”
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“My summer dress is bring is a lovely lemon color, with patterns that reminded me of chikan craft, just gives a very refreshing vibe. While you can pair it with platforms or pumps, I have a simple white walking sandals on (we were touring Boston while this picture was taken).”
We love both Nandini’s looks, and the absolute confidence with which she carries both off. If you want to share your favourite looks do mail me at kiranmanral@gmail.com, with two full length pictures showing your outfit to the maximum advantage and a brief para on each. 

What I wore today: That 70s show

everyday style, fashion

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(Photograph: Nikita Deshpande)

Oversized tinted aviators, hair that decided to part itself down the middle like it was suddenly channelising its inner Moses, a Ritu Kumar floral cotton kurti in mint green (a gift from my sis in law), Marks and Spencer jeggings, and my ubiquitous Kolhapuri chappals in cream and gold bought from Mahabaleshwar which I’ve been using forever and more. The pop of pink in the border I tried to echo with a pop of a similar shade in the lipstick, Lakme 9 to 5, Pink Ambition, which is looking strangely deeper here. Nice?

Deepali Naair on her love for antique silver jewellery

everyday style, fashion

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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!

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

Madhumita Sinha shares her saree love

everyday style, fashion

 

“I can’t really call myself a fashionista but have always loved to look fashionable in every attire without being too obsessed about the idea. I have always been known as a pant/jeans/t shirt/top kind of woman since my teenage for both casual and work look mainly because I loved the comfort wear both at home and work. Even though I always admired women in sarees for me personally it was nothing less than a nightmare and then getting married to an Army officer and wearing sarees for every other formal parties became my biggest worry  I spent hours perfecting my drape and eventually lost interest in attending such parties.

With time things changed as I crossed mid forties having more time to myself with kids grown up and husband busy in his own world. I started enjoying the experience of draping the six yards to my pleasure and in the bargain collected sarees from different states, weave, material and work from all over the country wherever my husband got posted from Valleys to deserts to mountains. Having touched my golden era, the 50’s, recently I realised that I am absolutely crazy about draping a saree for any occasion matching them with beads, pearls, semi-precious and precious jewellery along with silver, gold and diamond. I do wear my long gowns and anarkalis for certain stage performances or semi formal occasions too but sarees are my all time favourite which I feel surely adds the feminine charm and grace at my age.”

(Madhumita Sinha is an HR professional and a corporate trainer by profession , a published author of a book of poems ‘Heartbeats ‘ 72 random beats , a performing poet by passion and contributes regularly to international and national literary journals. She is part of four anthologies published by different publishers so far. She is also an avid Toastmaster.)

Rajeshwari Jain shares her favourite looks

everyday style, fashion

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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.

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

 

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