Saturday, August 18, 2001

"What shall I wear today?"
Nikhil Bhagat

NO matter what we do in life — whether it is chasing a career, keeping a house in order, or simply chilling out — there is no escape from that one question we confront ourselves with every morning in the mirror: What must I wear today?

There are no easy answers. For we all know that what we wear, says who we are. And we all want to not only look presentable, but also good. Some of us want to look "even better" than what we actually are. It is from this internal debate that we unconsciously evolve a look that distinctly becomes our style.

Significantly, the options available have made things difficult. We are constantly swarmed with "latest trends", "great colours" and "fantastic fits" in ethnic, western and fusion wear... it is no longer as in the old days when you could put on a salwar-kameez or wrap a saree around and be at peace with yourself.


As Poornima Das, a design consultant, puts it: "The point is, how far are we prepared to pursue a style? Women wear the most attractive outfits to enhance their personality. The clothes may look great on the outside, but inside, they can get really uncomfortable".

But a film starlet like Amisha Patel can be quite candid about what she wants: "I want my clothes to be very classy. For that is the image I project about myself. I am not concerned how an outfit looks on a model because that might not necessarily suit me. Clean cuts are very important to me".

Amisha acknowledges that carrying a well-accessorised bag might spell class, but it is not her style. "I like accessorising, but only if it does not get into the way of comfort", she explains. "For many others my age, the bag can be useful, even a necessity. But I would rather move around empty-handed!"

The same applies to a cell phone, which could be "in-style" for a college kid, but for his dad it maybe a necessity. Likewise, for a cricketer, a cap or dark glasses can offer the much needed protection from the glare of the sun, but to others these accessories may speak of style.

"Actually, the definition of style is quite flexible", declares Poornima. "For instance, a pair of jeans is considered quite trendy, but what if you do not have the figure or the right attitude to carry it off. The most important thing people tend to overlook is that what looks good on others, might not be so for you".

Nevertheless, there are certain "style checks" professionals like Poornima have drawn up in keeping with the times:

  • Pair of glares to instill a sense of importance and anonymity.

  • A smart collection of shoes goes a long way in making a statement.

  • Branded caps, wind cheater and jackets for the biker look.

  • Worn out jeans are the ultimate in hip ‘n’ trendy casual wear.

  • A bag that is neither too big nor too small.

  • Week-day clothes:Separate sets for each day, Monday to Saturday.

  • Personal organiser: A must for anyone who wants to look busy.

  • Cell phone: Just right for making a private conversation public.

  • Loads of attitude:Without it, you’ll end up looking silly!

Frivolous as these might seem, the younger generation is taking to them not only to make a statement, but also for the feel-good factor these ‘put-ons’ bring. But then, as model Priyanka Chopra advises: Style is not about showing off the good things of life. Yes, show the good in you, and what is not, hide it!"

Adds Aryan Vaid, a former Mr International: "Being comfortable with yourself is to be in style. Those who are concerned about how others look at them are not really enjoying themselves.Put on a loose pair of jeans, throw on a thin white T-shirt and put on those floaters....That’s being cool!"

There’s another aspect about dressing that we tend to overlook. The mirror can lie at times. The same black trousers that look great in the mirror could be grey and dusty in the sunlight and the smart leather shoes may not be really as smart — not to mention they’ve made your feet incredibly hot and smelly.

For celebrities though, style can mean another thing. Looking good and glamorous is what the profession demands of them — even as they wouldn’t be able to bend down to pick up a pen lest their clothes fall off! This may sound bizarre, but it is true.

So don’t just follow others. Develop your own style and live by it.

— MF