Not all apparel is created equal. And not all items reflect their true value on their price tags. You could go broke (or die of sticker shock) every time you go to the mall, or you could wisen up and save your hard-earned money only on stuff that will work just as hard for you. Designers Ken Ferns and Rajat Tangri, and stylist Chandni Sareen help stock your wardrobe with the right mix of expensive investments and cheap thrills.
What feels good inside, will look fabulous outside, said Coco Chanel. All right, she didn’t. But we are.
Good lingerie and body shapers are a must, says designer Ken Ferns. “The lingerie you wear says a lot about the person you are. It can make you feel as sexy, comfortable, adventurous, or sophisticated. And that will reflect on what you wear on top of it.”
Stylist Chandni Sareen says that stores like Forever 21 and Topshop have great designs on their websites and that their products use the right fabrics. “Bras from a good brand will have beautiful lace, come in a wider choice of colours and not fade as quickly,” she says.
“Diesel also does some lovely underwear. It’s expensive, but the superior material and stitching helps it last longer.” Ferns seconds that. “Better brands have styles that are contoured well to fit you right. The fabric too will have the perfect blend so as to not give you any rashes and offer enough stretch and elasticity.”
Designer Rajat Tangri recommends checking out brands like La Senza if you don’t have the shopping allowance of a coal minister’s wife. “It’s somewhere between very expensive and downright cheap, and offers variety, style and comfort at affordable prices,” he says.
With jeans in so many colours, shapes, sizes and styles, all hitting the high street, why empty your wallet on designer denims? Tangri suggests heading to high street brands like Zara. “If you own two or three pairs of denims that fit you well, you’re sorted for almost any occasion,” he says. “They’re a basic, will never go out of style, and can be found at a fraction of the cost of designer brands.” Sareen seconds him. “Spending Rs. 18,000 to Rs. 19,000 on a pair of designer jeans isn’t something I’d recommend. I’ve seen some lovely fits, from skinny to high-waisted jeans, on Bandra’s streets for as little as Rs. 800.”
If you find a pair that fit like a dream and are comfortable enough to go to bed in, don’t hesitate to spend. “Jeans can be casual or formal, depending on what you team them with,” says Ferns. “No one judges a good pair of jeans anywhere you go.”
Splurge: Office Trousers
“If you find the perfect black or midnight blue trouser, and you know you’ll be wearing it two or three times a week, why be thrifty?” believes Ferns. Both he and Sareen recommend that you get the fitting around the crotch right – no unsightly creases or bunching. “Make sure the material is anti-crease and yarn-dyed, so that the colour stays true over time,” Ferns adds.
Tangri falls back on high street brands again, which he says offer as good silhouettes and colours as expensive ones. “You could actually buy more than one pair here, which makes more sense so that your work clothes don’t get repetitive.”
Sareen recommends a visit to Marks&Spencer. “It’s very important to dress well in the workplace. Since you spend a lot of time there, you need to look nice and feel comfortable.” she says. “If you have the body for it, go for stretchy material, because it will fit well. Keep the length just below or at the ankle, and get a couple of cotton or linen pants. They look really smart and suit our weather.”
Scrimp: Fitted Shirts
“Given the hot weather, and current trends, which are moving towards flowing, airy, almost kaftan-like styles, I won’t recommend spending a lot on fitted shirts,’ Ferns says. “Plus, if you have a tyre or a love handle or two, they don’t really work.” Tangri too believes that fitted shirts aren’t worth paying a premium for. “It’s not an all-weather garment and doesn’t suit every body type,” he says.
Sareen suggests stocking up on shirts from GAS. “They work for brunches, with shorts at a casual do, and even at work. You can’t go wrong with a basic blue or white,” she says.
Is it worth parting with a five-digit sum to buy a six-yard piece of fabric? “Only if you’re going to feature in a TV serial!” says Ferns with a laugh, pointing out how a sari is too obvious a garment to play around with. “You don’t end up draping it in more than two ways, so it’s hard to create many variations. Splurge if it’s a very important occasion, otherwise not,” he recommends.
Sareen explains that while an expensive sari can be a good investment, you risk not wearing it too often. “The problem with a sari, and with Indian clothes in general, is that they’re hard to forget. People always remember a nice sari, so it’s hard to have a lot of variety.”
“It really depends on the wearer and the occasion,” says Tangri. “If you’re going to wear saris frequently, go ahead and splurge. Otherwise, most printed saris do just as well.”
“I think it’s silly to break the bank for an expensive branded tee,” says Sareen. “Today, you get such great stuff on the streets. And if that isn’t up your alley, try the likes of Levi’s, FCUK and ONLY. You’ll get good colours and styles at a fraction of the cost,” she explains.
Ferns believes that the sheer versatility of a T-shirt is what can sometimes make it worth the splurge. “If you get a branded T-shirt that offers the right quality, style and size, splurge. A nice tee goes with pretty much anything, so your money will be well-spent,” he says. Tangri also understands why some people would invest in a brand or a logo. “When you’re younger, you go with what looks good. But as you grow older, your sensibilities and bank balance change. You may think a branded tee isn’t such a bad idea.”
The jury is unanimous on this one-a good pair of shoes is worth every penny you spend on it. “Cheap substitutes will never give you the same quality or last as long as good, branded pairs will. Don’t mind the cost,” says Tangri.
Ferns goes a step further and adds that even if your clothes are generic, your feet will thank you for a solid pair of stylish shoes. “If you get a good pair, close your eyes and go for it. Footwear should never be compromised on, it can make or break your look.”
Sareen seconds that. “A good pair of shoes can be worn with multiple outfits. For example, if you invest in a pair of nude or black stilettos or pumps from LV, they’ll look good with jeans, at work, and even with a dress at a party. You’ll have to try really hard to make them look wrong with anything.”
Splurge: Office Bag
“No matter where you work, a good bag will serve you well,” says Ferns who believes that classics like Fendi or Louis Vuitton will never go out of style. Sareen adds that a good bag makes a worthy accessory. “Big bags, and classics from the likes of Prada will be trendy forever,” she says. “Plus, they won’t wear out, and come with great warranty, which makes them a good investment.”
Tangri too, is of the opinion that designer bags are more than just about what you dump into them. “They have longevity, and should be looked at as an investment. Totally worth it.”
From HT Brunch, June 2
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch