At her new Lokhandwala residence, Shalmali Kholgade is busy working on a YouTube video for her channel. She greets us in a red fringe top, and with an excited smile, just as she wraps up the first half of the video. As she proceeds to empty her closet for us, she opens up about how her music inspires her style, and how she has developed a liking for bling over the years.
Style sensibility: “Having a personal sense of style became more important to me after I started my professional music career. I realised there were more eyes on me, and that I couldn’t walk out with messy hair and in pajamas like I did in college. Style also defines the kind of music I do. It helps me get into the zone of the song I am about to sing. For instance, if I am singing a dreamy song like Pareshaan, wearing something flowy brings out that passion and creates a romantic mood. My aesthetic sense has definitely evolved over the years. I hated bling before, but now I understand that shiny accessories matter a lot on stage. Though I must say, personally I still like those loose-fitting pajamas.”
Go-to designers: “My friend Manali Jagtap was my first stylist and designer. She was supportive and encouraging during the Pareshaan days. I also love Mrunal Yangad’s brand Malacha; their designs in both Indian and western wear are impeccable. For bling, I think AD Singh is the best. He weaves in a lot of Swarovski in his designs. I recently wore a nude dress studded with Swarovski and it was by far the most stunning show outfit that I have ever worn. Of late, I am floored by Reeti Arneja’s work. Her clothes make me feel like a completely different person.”
Street shopper: “I love shopping on Linking Road and Colaba Causeway. It feels so good to just walk through these streets and window-shop. I have fond memories from my college days of street shopping with friends. Most of my accessories, like sling bags and hats, are from such places.”
Can't live without: “I have a pair of plaid shoes that I call Mice. They have been with me for years; they have seen me through college, my entry into Bollywood music, all of it. I am truly, madly and deeply in love with them. So much so, that I won't even pass them on to my children. They are still at my parents’ home and I wear them every time I go back.”
Not-so-traditional: “I personally prefer western outfits because they're more comfortable. I have nothing against traditional Indian wear, but saris, for instance, make me uncomfortable. I do like Indian jewellery, such as the Maharashtrian nath (nose ring). I wore it for a show once and I absolutely loved it.”
Close save: “Once, during SAIFTA (South African Indian Film and Television Awards), I was wearing a jumpsuit and some three minutes before I went on-stage, the strap on my shoulder just snapped. I didn’t know what to do, I was panicking and it was quite a mess. I don’t wish that even on my worst enemies. Thankfully, the backstage team fixed it all up in no time and the show went on smoothly.”