Saturday, February 26, 2000

Challenging fashion stereotypes
By Pinky Adil

FOR all those struggling to look lean and tall, here’s some good news — the look of the 2000s is all about being hale and hearty. There’s no reason why you should force yourself on a starvation diet and appear to be as distressed as a skinny model on stilts.

Dare to be differentFor that matter, you needn’t even bother about what designers and stylists have to say: what to wear and what not to, what’s in and what’s out, the colours of the season, hottest silhouettes, minimalism, deconstruction, understatement.

After all, fashion isn’t supposed to be creating clones. And the best part of the present times is that it allows you to be fiercely individualistic and adventurous. So wear your attitude, feel fit, look confident and take the world on your own terms.

People might tell you that the classic red lipstick looks tatty. And yet you happen to like it — not to mention the fact, that it is a must-have of the season. The important thing in such a situation is to be clever at wearing it with the right clothes at the right time.

Just avoid red lipstick with red clothes, as it becomes too much to handle. Rather, try red lips with an all white or all black dress and notice the difference. That’s what being stylish is all about — to look cool while not conforming to the tried and trodden path.

  This simple fact of life escapes most of us as we spend hours in front of the mirror, trying to look like someone else. More often than not, we overdo our looks and end up like a Christmas tree. It is wholly unnecessary.

Instead, take it easy. Look closely in the mirror for once and try always to highlight the strong points in your features — large eyes, a sharp nose, a strong jawline, perhaps the lips or the complexion of the skin...As always, the idea is to look healthy.

Since the white, pasty skin has long been left behind with the junkies of the seventies, blush is the best way to be looking in the pink of health. Similarly, eye shadow and heavy liner have made way for lightly-defined eyes, offset by rosy lips and natural, flawless skin.

Then comes the most crucial of decisions: How do you dress?

For quite some time, designers have been talking about "dressing down" with no-fuss no-frill outfits, while in practice, especially during festivals, we witness a deluge of clothes that perforce make you "dress up" for the occasion.

Here again, the choice rests on you. Tiny, short tops are great fun, whether it’s gauze tanks or ribbed and smoked shrunken T-shirts. Body shirts in lycra and cotton are also comfortable and chic, so long a do not make you self-conscious.

There’s also a range of athletic-inspired clothes in bright knits along with an interpretation of a vest for the asking. Shorts too get special attention — with mesh inserts, funky fringes or a bowtied drawstring waist. For the uninhibited, consider the above-the-knee shorts.

The other hand, you could go the conventional way — either in ethnic or western wear. Traditional suits, whether in salwars or trousers, have their importance on formal occasions and for those who want a ‘covered-up’ feel to their dressing.

But ideally, you should be able to alternate between the two extremes. Where you draw the line between formals and casuals (and if possible, make a mix-n’ match of the two) makes for intelligent dressing these days.

Another important aspect about being well-dressed is your jewellery. Semi-precious stones set in sterling silver and 18-carat gold are currently very hot. Moreover, the emphasis is now not so much on earrings as it is on the neck piece and bracelets.

Bags also constitute a primary spot in today’s look. Drawstring bags in jute canvas and straw are a popular look for the casual day. Many designers have begun coordinating bags with shoes, but you need not go by their recommendations.

On the down side, belts are not strong any more as a fashion accessory. This has contributed to the popularity of untucked blouses and drawstring pants among the youth. If at all, the belts are thin and almost invisible.

But then, the decisions ultimately rest on you. Remember, the most winning looks are always derived from personal style. There is no designer or reference book to advise you on how to project yourself. Trust your instincts and go ahead.