Wary of white during the monsoon? Designer Kunal Rawal’s (really) practical ways to wear it.
Either you love the monsoon or you don’t. I really don’t, especially in Mumbai. The romanticism of monsoon goes out of the window when you’re working and travelling while powering through the muck and traffic jams. I am stuck in a jam near Turner Road (Bandra) as I write this, all the while blowing my nose and soaking wet.
It is at times like these when what you wear can help steer your mood. If you are happy with how you look and what you’re wearing, chances are you’ll be able to cope better. At least I do. I am a big believer in feel-good outfits, and whites definitely make me feel good.
I know a lot of people are uncomfortable wearing whites during the monsoon. Some fabrics stick, some are transparent and, of course, there’s the fear of getting your clothes dirty. However, there are solutions. The key to being stylish is dressing for the occasion, and the weather, especially if you’re from Mumbai.
Your outerwear is the key piece this rainy season. Hooded poly nylon jackets or raincoats are the ideal way to deal with the rain. If your outerwear is smart and keeps you protected, you can get away with wearing just about anything inside, even whites.
If raincoats are not your thing, and jackets don’t cover your needs during the downpour, then a good-quality trench coat is a good investment. When it comes to outerwear, the material is important. Nylons and waterproof fabrics aside, coated waterproof cotton is another good option. These can be wiped and washed. Also, they don’t look like typical rainwear.
White outerwear and accessories can be interesting too. A sturdy white umbrella or a light-weight white raincoat/jacket can be a good way to induce some brightness.
It is important to pick the right kind of footwear as well. No one likes splashes of muck on clothes, especially on your whites. Opt for rubber-soled footwear with a good grip. There are many formal shoes available that offer rubber soles. However, make sure to avoid suede as these would never look the same once drenched.
Since it floods quite a bit during monsoon, wear higher shoes — rubber gumboots being the most practical. The white sneaker is a big trend that refuses to die. You could wear fabric or canvas high tops like Converse. Canvas shoes are inexpensive and washable.
When I dress for myself, I prefer the classic combination of black and white, tonal and monochromatic dressing or a solid colour combined with black or white. So, omitting white from my wardrobe is not an option for me. It is an essential part of my everyday dressing. White is the most versatile colour and you could take your look anywhere with it. So white inners and tees are irreplaceable, come rain or shine.
While we are still on the topic of pick-me-up clothing, happy messages, slogans and graphics also help pep up the mood. Humour and wit work for all seasons, and a white tee with a fun graphic is the best way to beat those monsoon blues.
Whether you’re wearing white or not, always carry a dry tee or shirt in your bag. You don’t want to risk ruining an important meeting or a date over wet or dirty clothes.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe.