Today, it’s cold; tomorrow, it’s not. It’s a chilly 13 degrees at night; and a hot 32 degrees in the morning. It’s winter in Mumbai. Or, well, it’s winter for some time of the day, on certain days, in leafier parts of Mumbai. The problem, of course, for the fashion-conscious, is: how do you dress for such fickle weather? It’s too hot for a jacket when you’re headed to work, but it’s nippy by the time you leave in the evening.
The answer, anyone will tell you, is to keep a layer handy. But that doesn’t mean you throw on the same old woollen cardigan every day, on top of whatever it is you might be wearing. The trick is to layer well.
Actually, ditch the cardigans. I’ve never been a fan. They tend to remind me of school uniforms, or grandpa fashion. A smarter, younger way to wear it is to go for a throw (a cardigan with a shawl collar: they fall like scarves on the front, and have no buttons). You could get a straight-cut one, or go for one in an asymmetrical pattern (keep the pattern simple). On a really cold night (in case future winters are colder), they work under a jacket as well.
The simplest way to deal with a nippy evening, though, remains the good old blazer. It works over a tee or a casual shirt and instantly makes a look semi-formal, so you’re ready for that quick post-work drink. The blazer works particularly well for us, since, in India, semi-formal is as far as you’ll need to go, even for an occasion (we don’t really have too many events that require proper formals; even our party-wear is semi-formal).
If you’re wearing a shirt with a blazer, have fun with either. Go for a shirt with all-over prints, or one with contrast buttons, with a simple blazer. Or, get a checked or striped blazer in a tonal theme (think Wimbledon, or classic Ralph Lauren).
Waistcoats, or kotis, work well, too, for evenings. But ditch the boring black ones for ones with patterns, or in a striking colour: think forest green, not neon orange.
But not all days call for blazers, or waistcoats. Weekends, for instance, call for more casual dressing. The best way to layer just enough for Mumbai winters is a shirt over a black tee, and black denims; or a white tee with washed denims. The look works well with the shirt unbuttoned all the way, or just the top few buttons open. However, you could give it a twist by leaving the bottom two buttons open (it gives the shirt a more waistcoat-like silhouette). The only thing to keep in mind is to never wear a formal shirt unbuttoned. A big trend this year is also the padded shirt, which works well when it’s colder.
But what’s winter dressing without a jacket or two? Before you say, ‘But Mumbai winters…’, let me advise you to pick a wafer-thin one that’s high on style quotient, and low on heat. Go for a washed one in black, grey or tan, or unwashed ones in wine, green, navy or even white. When in doubt, go classic James Dean with black and white.
If you’re short, go for a blouson or a bomber. Since the hems are shorter, they elongate your silhouette. If you’re on the bigger side, avoid ones with ribbing on the waist, as they bring attention to your torso.
One of the classics, and one of trickiest to pull off, is often the denim jacket. A classic colour, or a subtle wash should be just fine, but you’ll have to look through piles of sandblasted, ripped, weirdly coloured ones to find the right one.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe