Style Quotient

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Some years ago when I went to a store to buy a pair of blue jeans, size 34 and with a bit of stretchy fabric around the waist – and found that the waif-thin lady at the counter was appalled. What size did you say again, her eyes seemed to say as her lips curled into a sneer at the very idea of elastic bands on any part of a garment. I left the store with two decisions: to begin a fitness routine and to fight for my right to real fashion.

I did neither, of course, as time and work took its toll on me. But I was delighted to discover some months ago, when I went back to the same store and found that things had changed. A warm and lovely salesgirl now offered to show me a number of jeans in a spectrum of sizes and styles and beautiful, stretchy fabric everywhere. “The idea is to keep you comfortable,” she said and left me to make my choice, among sizes that ranged from S, M, L. XL, XXL and XXXL. Wow!

So, when I read recently about visionary fashion designers and stylists celebrating age, and employing models who are aged anywhere between 60 to 84 on the runways to show how cool older people can be, I was delighted. Fashion was finally embracing age, size and height and what a revolution it is turning out to be. Everyone has figured out, that men and women want to look good, no matter what their age, size or weight may be. Of course, there is a business angle to these developments because the report also mentions that fashion retailers have realized that people over 65 spend the most on fashion and are often the healthiest besides being the wealthiest.

The trend is trickling down across the world and through our country too. Several designers and stores now create clothes in all sizes and right from T-shirts, tops, dresses, fitness wear, trousers and shoes, there is a world of newly sized garments for the Indian woman.

So I am a happy shopper now, no longer looking for a tailor to customise the clothes that I have bought and no longer worried what the sales lady will think of the sizes I buy. What a long way we have come!

Beauty tip:

Get highlights in your hair this season as the bright sunlight of our hot summer mornings reflects off the colours and makes your face radiant too. Don’t be scared to experiment. I chose a mix of copper and bronze and my friend chose silver blond highlights and we were both right!

 

 

 

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Summer is a great time to wear white and pastels, and I have lost count of the number of articles that I have recently read about it keeping it light and bright during the hot days of summer. So, when I went to the stores last week, I picked up everything I could find that was in white, soft rose, cool pistachio, sea foam and tender peach. I chose fabrics like beautiful mulmul, cool linen and crisp cotton. I should have been summer-ready, but one look at the mirror and I knew I wasn’t.

You guessed it. The simple reason was — white is not always right for everyone. It may help us look cool and summery and oh-so-fresh but if you were to look closer, you would notice that it is possible to look washed out, duskier and heavier, too. And while, it is good to flaunt sun kissed skin and beach-perfect attire, how do you look your best in whites and pastels?

The secret, I realized (alas, after much expensive experimentation) lies in wearing the right shade of the colour and dressing it up with warm colours that bring the glow back on the cheeks and the fire back into the complexion. Start with a bright neck piece in emerald green or fiery ruby, throw a light-as-air scarf around in your neck that is dyed in shades of cobalt blue, mandarin orange or mustard yellow. Add colourful accessories close to the face so that the hues reflect off the whites and pastels, blend with the sunshine all around you and make you appear brighter, edgier and more stylish too. Also remember, to choose the right whites and pastels, like rich cream instead of sparkling white and golden beige instead of sober khaki. Keep your clothes fitted or wear a belt with a loose garment, so that the lighter colours will not add girth. Wearing garments with long or V-shaped necklines and footwear with pointy toes and heels will also help you appear slimmer.

Beauty tip– Have you tried the beauty booster shots in the stores now? You need to add a dash of a skin booster cream to your face cream, and voila – you can look more radiant and energetic instantly. A favourite booster product of mine is from Clarins and nowadays, I keep a few extra tubes in stock so that I will never run out.

Have a wonderfully summery week, enjoying the glorious sunshine of the season and the April showers too!

 

 

Girls, fashion-lovers and fashionistas have you been reading all the new fashion related books out there, or did you stop some years ago with The Devil Wears Prada?

After a long hiatus, during which time, I have been working for a fashion website, travelling and reading voraciously, I have come back to my blog with all kinds of interesting things to report.

Let me begin with the fashion-themed books I have read recently. I truly loved ‘The Knockoff’ by Jo Piazza and Lucy Sykes, which was a wickedly funny book in more ways than one.  However, I found that it was also a sad testament of the times. In this book we are told that beautiful print magazines are going out of style and excellent senior editors are replaced by twenty-something, tech savvy, bottom line driven marketing geniuses who are driving profits instead of content.  Sound familiar? Well, it must be the story of most of the print magazines out there today!

The story revolves around Imogen Tate, editor in chief of a well known fashion magazine who finds herself at the threshold of being replaced by her young assistant Eve Morton and horror of horrors, finds that her magazine has now become an app. How do you navigate a high tech world when you are technologically challenged and older than your colleagues by a decade like Imogen Tate? How do you take up the challenges thrown up by a world where revenue is the name of the game and true talent and years of experience has become old hat?

The life of Imogen also reminds us of the state of many employees in other professions today. Even if you are only 24 years old there are 100 or more 20-year olds at the door, waiting in the wings armed with cutting edge technology and bursting with brilliant creative ideas. No-one can afford to relax or sit back at any time of their lives.

The writers of ‘The Knockoff’ also drive home a number of other pertinent points in the course of the book. They want to know if social media is now dictating the lives of people across the world. They ask… “Did people choose to go to one party over another because it would look better on Instagram? Did they decide to read a story just so they could tweet about it? Have we all become so desperate to share everything that we’ve stopped enjoying our lives?”

‘The Knockoff’ is an utterly delightful book, so if you can find it, do it read it!

Another fashion related book that I enjoyed in recent times was ‘Fashionably Yours’ by Swati Sharma. A light and refreshing read, this book is about a young girl caled Maya Kapoor who lives in Mumbai and works for a fashion magazine. There’s a lot of fun and fashion in this book, so if that’s the combination of themes you are looking for, don’t miss this one.

Yet another exciting book I read recently was called ‘Tongue in Chic’ by Kristie Clements. This crisp and contemporary novel takes you through the salacious world of glossy fashion magazines, giving you a lot of fascinating insights about the world of fashion along the way.

I have also just acquired a novel called ‘The Stylist’ by Rosie Nixon which is about a stylist to the stars. Watch this space to know more updates about this book.

As for more news on the fashion front – girls – did you know that for the first time there are two colors released by Pantone as the colors of the year in 2016? They are Rose Quartz and Serenity. Don’t miss the soft beauty of rose quartz, that includes all shades of pale pink or the sweetness of Serenity, that incorporates all shades of baby blue. These are the Pantone Colors of the Year and if you loved this color as seen in the new I-phone, you will love this shade that is also showing up in watch straps, handbags, furnishings,shoes and clothes. The other color of the year,‘Serenity’ is also here to stay and the color is showing up as denim, teal and aqua, both in clothes and accessories. Love these pastels? I think they are truly perfect and you should stock up on them because frankly, they never go out of style.

Beauty-wise, I am loving and truly loving the new ‘lighting’ up of the face that is the hottest trend in makeup now.  To understand how this works, think of the last time you stood under the glare of warm overhead lights. Your face glowed with the radiance of all the light on your face and the soft light brought all your features to clear focus and diminished all imperfections. That’s how this new makeup works. It comes as a highlighter and you use it discreetly over your face to make you look like you are ‘lit from within’. I recommend the highlighter from Laura Mercier as it offers true value for money, besides being gorgeous too.

So, yes, this is the year to turn over a new leaf, either in the books you read or the clothes you wear. Here’s to a great year of great fashion!

Till next time then!

 

 

 

 

 

Indrani in Sneha[1]

Image Khadi Kool by Deepika Govind SS2013 IMG_5656aSummer is here and with it, all the sweetness of the season and the happy colours that bring in the sunshine. Well, I for one, am a sucker for all things bright and beautiful, and if is the not the lush mango and the balmy breezes of a Bangalore summer that make my day, it is always the trends of the season that thrill me each year.

The last time I did a recce of the stores, I found that summer had indeed arrived and there they were — the new collections. I ran my eye over the ubiquitous pastels, the pleasant florals, the cool sheers, the vivid motifs and the gorgeous reams of light as air fabrics. It was a moveable feast, as Hemingway would say — but it took me a while to find out what was trendy and what could be better.

I’ve just picked out some trends for you which you might like to keep in mind. And keep reading till the end, because I’ve got some beauty tips to offer too.

There were plenty of shirt dresses, A-line skirts and plaid that are back in style this season, black and white and all white ensembles in fitted and loose fitting silhouettes are the must-haves this year

And, guess what. Our humble darji, our neighbourhood tailor, could be back to doing some roaring business too. Tailored clothes are a huge draw this year, especially tailored jackets and jumpsuits. I think we can take this further and get some interesting skirts and dresses done by our tailors too.

But of course, there is an up and a downside to this suggestion. First the downside — while a good tailor might get the fit right and might follow your patterns to precision, it would need a very creative designer (try Bangalore’s hottest designer and my personal favourite- Deepika Govind, as shown in accompanying picture) to make something unique for you.

The plus point of using a tailor would be that you get clothes that accentuate your every curve and you are sure you will get something you are comfortable in at half the cost.

I would suggest the next best thing. If you cannot afford a fabulous designer, buy clothes from the malls or a regular store, but get them tweaked by your tailor. This will ensure a great fit and a few creative touches here and you might just look like you’ve stepped off the catwalk.

As for the other trends this year, flared pants are back again, but is doomed for failure perhaps in a country like ours where we swear by skinny trousers. Florals are always popular in summer but this time opt for larger flowery prints that are big and bold. No, they will not make you look oversized if you tone the bright motifs down with simple accessories or if you team them with monochromatic clothes. Hate flowers? Go for the dots instead that are also one of the most popular prints of the day.

Go retro with your accessories. I adore the small, structured handbags in softest pastels that are everywhere now. The brooch is back – and in case, you’re from a generation that has never seen them, a brooch is a decorative pin that can add a zing to your attire, and is usually created out of stones, crafted with filigree work and designed in dazzling colours.

And now for some beauty news–

Girls – don‘t forget to check out the Micellar water that is the big buzz now. It was once restricted only to Paris where beautiful Parisians used it to combat the effects of the hard water in their city. But now here it is, even in India and gaining popularity by the day. Experts say that it has been named micellar because of the oil molecules in its water-like formula. It is gentle on the skin and leaves the face feeling like a dream. So skip the wet wipes this summer and get a bottle of micellar water instead and watch your skin glow. And yes, there are brands that come with anti-ageing properties too!

As for makeup – skip the red lipstick for the season and go for the pinks. Did you know that there are pinks to match every skin tone? So spend some time trying out each pink tone against your skin and choose the right one.

Here’s to a fabulous summer and watch this blog for updates every week!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

images[5]Just a few weeks ago, I visited Baldwin Women’s Methodist College for their annual fashion event Rang de 2014 and I must say that the young student designers of that college were a class apart. As a staunch lover of all things fashionable, I was totally mesmerised by the dazzling colours and flamboyant designs that they presented on the stage. Each collection had its own delineation. From the mood boards that showed us the muse of the designer to the colour board that took us through the shades that stirred her imagination, to the clothes that were designed to capture her ideas and the accessories that completed the picture – it was a visual treat and how! It just goes to show that the country is full of young talent and we need to hold on to these young people before they are whisked away to foreign shores.

I also loved the fact that these young students were helped along by a group of highly professional teachers and a fabulous principal who had understood the fashion trends of the day and had encouraged their students to merge technology with style. If they had stuck to the textbooks, there would have been no scope for creativity, no scope for new ideas, either in their minds or on the stage.

That is what got me thinking about re-invention, and that is the subject I plan to explore with you today…

I will begin by looking back in history, to what was once known as The Glam movement. (Just in case, you are wondering why I am giving you historical notes, let me explain. As I go forward in my fashion blog I feel the time has come to look at the present in the light of the past. And if you are a fashion lover, these nuggets of information can be kept in your files or in the back of your mind for your ready reference.)

If you remember the Glam movement that dominated so much of the ‘70s, you would know that it was both a fashion and music movement and was defined by theatrics and exaggerated style. Think glitter in makeup, sequinned jackets, satin pants, satin bomber jackets and metallic clothes that dominated the fashion scene then, and you can well imagine how much has come back in style – almost full circle. (The most recent bit of fashion news I heard was that metallic wedding gowns are the most hip look on the bridal scene now).

Anyway, back to the Glam movement. It was a reflection of the Glam Rock music that had developed at the time and pop artists like David Bowie created a certain look that was totally avant- garde. It was a time when showmanship was the order of the day. Bowie is often called the ’king of self invention’ because he loved exploring new looks and pushed boundaries to maximum.

Why is it so important to re-invent yourself? You may not even realize that you might need an update because you have worn the same hairstyle for years, the same outfit forever or carried the same handbag eternally because it holds everything you own. But life is always changing and so are you.

While you need not allow yourself to be swept along with every fashion whim, it is very important to see yourself as gradually shifting, both in age and ideology as time goes on. Keep changing your look along the way. Many life trainers ask you to create a unique brand for yourself that others can view, but in my opinion, what you think of yourself will always project itself in way you dress and the accessories you wear.

For instance, if you were to see Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart in the TV show The Good Wife), you would get the perfect example of a woman who is unafraid to embrace the new. She may not be very young, but she dresses young and that gives her a youthful look that younger women want to emulate. Right from her chunky necklaces to her vintage pins to her pencil skirts, she has created a persona that leaves you longing to see more of her.

So here’s my quick how-to in the art of re-invention. Begin by deciding what you would like to project at this stage your life. More refinement? A smarter version of yourself? Or would you like to be seen as a sophisticated person with unique tastes? Once you have an idea, here are some style ideas to add to your repertoire…

  1. Add jewellery – if you are older, get beautiful pieces that stand out that may or may not be expensive. If you are moving to a new job, build a new collection of accessories that will go with your new role.
  2. Get a new hair style and visit your colourist. The power of a new haircut, a few highlights and lowlights can transform your face. This goes for the men too.
  3. You need not clear out your makeup drawer but you can go for an update. If you’ve been wearing the same beige lipstick for years, try the new metallic ones that light up your face. Or you could skip the lipsticks in matte textures and go for the creamy ones. Even a tiny change is always registered and makes a huge difference.
  4. Get a few important accessories and buying a good handbag is a place to begin. If you are now in a stage of your life where you think leather is not a good idea, then show off your ideology with fabric or straw bags. If you are sick of carrying a handbag on your shoulder, get an envelope clutch instead. But remember – the most expensive stuff out there is not necessarily the best. Go by your instincts and you will be right.
  5. Update your style. Never mind if you have been wearing kurtis for years or a bunch of T-shirts. Get a suit tailored for yourself or a pretty dress. Or wear a jewel toned sari with a stunning choli with sexy straps.
  6. Don’t let anyone deter you by way of saying you are too old or too overweight or too anything else. Some of the most gorgeous women around are far from perfect, but they project themselves so beautifully that they draw sighs of appreciation wherever they go.

Re-invention is the only way to keep up with the times and feel good about yourself. Begin small but do so consciously, and watch doors open as people admire your new look and want to make you a part of their lives at once!

image 2[1]It seemed to be red, white and all things bright at the 2014 Emmys this time when it came to fashionable clothing, and I for one, loved it. It is such a relief to see so many spots of colour in a sea of black tuxedos but I would add a quick kudos to the neutrals too, for getting the look so right.

Okay, so I may not have agreed with every choice of gown, case in point being, Lena Dunham’s pink candyfloss dress, nor can I say that I am a great fan of Kerry Washington’s love for orange, but at the end of the day, it was the colours I loved. The overall effect was brilliant — the touch of flamboyance in the excessive fabrics, the loud motifs that screamed for attention, the intricate embroidery and the happy colours that made the entire show take on the feel of the Bazaars of Hyderabad. And when the women shimmied across the red carpet, they looked quite like butterflies fluttering by in their own private garden.

My personal favourites among the women celebrities were Sofia Vergara in her white Roberto Cavalli with its silver trims and Julianna Margulies in her Narciso Rodriguez dress – no surprises why I chose them, as Modern Family and The Good Wife are two of my favourite TV series.

And everyone’s talking about the new ‘ear cuff’ jewellery rage which the celebs adopted this year that added a special sparkle to every ensemble. The colour red was the new black of the night and how it rocked! Bows, unique hairstyles, catchy necklines, statement rings – there was all this and more, making it was a night of sartorial adventure for the celebs and one fabulous ride for their fans.

Which brings me to all the latest in our stores, girls. Sad to report, it is looking glum. In between seasons is always a difficult time and so the stores seem to be unsure what to showcase. If they display spring styles, they look dated and if they go the monsoon route, the rains are a thing of the past already and no winter offerings yet because the cold winds are hardly here yet.

Frankly, I was tired of looking at a whole bunch of tired florals, the fall out of spring, a smattering of checks and the ugly men’s shirt-for-women style that some important brands seem to pass off as women’s wear. As for the salwar suits, as someone rightly tweeted, when will we finally see the last of the anarkali?

So, the best choice this season, seems to be the ‘dress’. A whole crop of new styles in dresses have emerged over the last few months, and it is your best buy for now. I love the ones with sheer panels that merge light and shadow and are perfect as day wear or the crochet dresses that come with little belts that are super trendy, the floral print dresses in floaty fabrics which transport you to a summer day, and dresses in monochrome and neon colours that always make a unique statement. So, take your pick from this amazing spectrum. Our designers do the dresses best, so don’t forget to check out what some of our best designers have to offer, like Deepika G, Anu N and Sanchita A.

As for the beauty counters – girls, Clinique has a new smart serum that claims to understand your past and future skin. Quite intriguing, eh? As for makeup, I love Estee’s new sculpting lipstick, which so completely moist and so very trendy.

By the way, girls, I attended the Estee Lauder launch event at their store (organised by the inimitable Manjusha M) and I loved the three minute beauty regimen they suggested…

First minute: Create a flawless face with concealer and foundation. As a second step, contour and highlight the face with dark and light colours to create unique shadows that can make the face look very attractive.

Second Minute: Fight eye fatigue with eye cream and some concealer. Layer bright shadow over eyeliner to give you that edgy look.

Third minute: Work on the lips by sculpting them just right. Quick tip — dust a neutral shimmer shadow on the Cupid’s bow as a final flourish.

And there you have it – the modern way of looking beautiful all day.

But– as my final take on the subject, I would suggest, you buy the following also (these products are available in most cosmetic stores): an eyebrow primer, an orange corrector and a lip pencil. The shape of the brows is most important before working on the eyes, an orange corrector is a must as it gives the ideal camouflage when it works with the concealer and the lip pencil is mandatory if you don’t want lipstick to bleed too fast.

That’s all for now, folks. Back with more news soon!

 



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