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Do you look the same every day?

If you’re nodding yes, here’s our diagnosis. You’re stuck in a style rut. You’ve learned what suits you and are sticking to it, but you’re not giving other ways of dressing a chance. Parul Khanna Tewari helps out.

brunch Updated: Feb 18, 2012 19:45 IST
Parul Khanna Tewari
Parul Khanna Tewari
Hindustan Times

If your answer is a rueful yes, then quick! Change gear and ride out of that style rut. It’s so much easier than you think

Brunch Exclusive: Rina Dhaka

Brunch Exclusive
Fashion designer Rina Dhaka, known for her feisty contemporary style, lets go of the comfort of body-hugging dresses and inconspicuous colours.

Rejigged: She can’t have enough of black fitted dresses, but Rina realised she was stuck in a style rut some months ago back when her wardrobe consisted entirely of greys, blacks, browns, denims and dresses. “It was my lazy and lax attitude that got me into this mess,” she says. Since Rina loves lehengas (they remind her of her very feminine grandma), we got her to wear one and here’s the result.

Rina Dhaka: Original style

Every now and then, someone comes up to you and says, ‘Oooh, I love the way you dress.’ Sometimes, that person may even be a perfect stranger, someone you’ve seen often in the office lift, but never exchanged a word with before.

So that’s great. You have a fashion sense that always keeps you looking good. You’re stylish and trendy (you’re probably the first in the new skinny jeans), or you have an eclectic style of your own. That’s excellent. In a world filled with people without a chic cell in their bodies, you’re a star.

Except… have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Really looked? Yes, you look great as usual, but… don’t you look the same every day? Same kind of tops in different shapes and colours, same kind of trousers and shoes and shirts?

If you’re nodding yes, here’s our diagnosis. You’re stuck in a style rut. You’ve learned what suits you and are sticking to it, but you’re not giving other ways of dressing a chance.

You might argue that a style rut is actually just your personal style. And you’ll be right – but only just. “Personal style can get restrictive,” says designer Rimzim Dadu. “It’s essential to experiment to see what else could work.”

It’s essential not only so that your fashion sense evolves, but also to shake you out of what may be a defensive comfort zone. “A style rut can also be a phase in your life,” says stylist Amit Hansraj. “You are comfortable in certain styles based on your body shape and the current trend, or you’re dissatisfied with what you look like, or feel like your wardrobe doesn’t reflect you. You need to realise this is just a phase and get out of it.”

If you agree it’s time to reinvent your style, here’s how to do it. First, see if you’re dressing in any particular pattern. Do all your clothes look alike? Next, identify the style you’re stuck in. Men, are you always in denims and tees? Women, have you never worn ethnic wear or are you sceptical of skirts? Once you’ve figured that out, get out there and look at the shops. Here’s a step-by-step guide to what to do next.

Rina Dhaka: Revamped new look

All change!


Look again:

Peer into your wardrobe and take out the clothes you’ve never worn or only worn once. Now think of how you can wear them. That dress that you bought for your friend’s party? Hmm. Why not team it with a blazer and tights and wear it to work?

Look at your clothes in a new light. Lay them out on the bed and mix and match till you find combinations you like. This will stretch your wardrobe and break you out of the rut.


See what works:

Start collecting pictures of celebrities, models and the like, and analyse them. Style is first about fashion, and only then about you and the expression of your personality. Of course you want to look up to date, but style is never about following trends.

Log on to these websites for inspiration –,,,,,, shanghai and And don’t forget the fashion mags (and Brunch!)


Out with the old:

We mean it. Out, out, out! If you can’t resist those few favourites, box them up and put them under your bed or at the back of your closet. Out of sight, out of mind. It might be hard at first, but you’ll find other things to wear.


Navigate your body issues:

Make no mistake. Even the skinniest model in the world is trying to hide some body flaw or the other. And almost everyone dresses by the rulebook. Big bust? You cannot wear a tight top. Short? You cannot wear vertical stripes. Etc, etc.

But the key to experimental dressing is to wear clothes not to hide your body, but to make you happy. If you think you look great in vertical stripes and you are short, go ahead. The rules are only for the under-confident.


Define your style:

Choose three words that describe your style (or the style you wish you had) or the vibe you want to give off.

Dig deep. Think of specific words, such as classy, androgynous, sporty, manly, girlie.

Then, while sorting through sale racks or putting together a date-night look, ask yourself if you can use your style words to describe every piece you’ve picked out. If the answer’s no, leave it. If it’s yes, keep it (and love it).

Narendra Kumar: Original style

Make the effort

It takes time and will power to break out of a rut. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. Here’s how to change gear.


Plan in advance:

Always lay out your clothes the night before so you have more time to experiment. Trying to pull together a look at 9.16 am when you have to be at work by 9.30 will achieve absolutely zero.


Give yourself an excuse to dress up:

Make plans to go out – hang out with friends, meet relatives, even go out all by yourself (which is a great way to see what others think of what you wear). If you’ve got an occasion, even a self-created one, you’ll try harder.


Experiment consciously:

Pull everything out of your wardrobe again. Are there any clothes that you never wear? Well, put them on and go out. In a few weeks, it could go from that I’ll-try-it-for-a-day item to your signature look. And it may influence the rest of your wardrobe.


Be a model for a day:

Try on outfits that you usually wear and also experiment with a few new ones. Ask a pal to snap full-length photos of you in each ensemble. Wait a while before you review the pictures. Then look at each outfit as if someone else were wearing it.


Shop alone:

Shopping with pals is fun, but shopping alone is productive. Even the most thoughtful friend can talk you into buying something that’s trendy, not timeless, or more his or her style than yours.

Brunch Exclusive: Narendra Kumar

Fashion designer Narendra Kumar tries a relaxed look instead of his usual structured and sporty one

Narendra Kumar: Revamped new look


“It’s good to be evolved and designers should have a sense of zeitgeist,” says Narendra. Usually, he avoids monotones, dull shades and soft, flowy drapes. To break out of his style rut for Brunch, however, Narendra wore something mellow and more drapy.

“These clothes give me a relaxed confidence,” he says about his new look. “The outfit looks cool too. I wanted to wear this at a wedding in Goa but forgot to pack it.”

How not to be a laughing stock!

Yes, we did suggest that you throw away the rule book, but some issues are fundamental. Stick to this prescription, then do whatever you want to


1. Have a beer belly? Throw away fitted, physique-hugging tees

2. Ungainly butt? Never wear narrow, ankle-length trousers

3. Dark complexion? No matter what anyone else tells you, ban brights and neons

1. Fat legs? Wear short skirts only in the privacy of your room
2. Bulging stomach? Never, ever wear high-waisted pants
3. Short? Then kindly wear heels with your formals

Courtesy: Fashion designers James Ferrera, Alpana of Neeraj and Alpana, Rimzim Dadu and stylist Amit Hansraj

From HT Brunch, February 19
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First Published: Feb 18, 2012 15:47 IST