The festive style guide
From saris, suits to bandhgalas, fashion designers Anupama Dayal, Peter Punj, and Sunil Sethi help you choose that perfect Diwali outfit, writes Yashica Dutt.brunch Updated: Oct 26, 2013 18:55 IST
Saris by Anupama Dayal
Even if you shy away from this six-yard wonder all year round, traditions are best celebrated in a sari
Who she is
A fashion designer, who is always introducing new ways to drape the traditional sari, ever since the launch of her label in 2004. One version includes wearing a sari with invisibly tiny hot pants. We insisted she wear a Banarasi sari for us and she obliged us by pulling out a rich mustard-hued one from one of her recent collections.
The number of saris she owns
She stopped counting somewhere after 100. This includes the saris her mother – a textile designer and artist – bought for her, along with ones she has collected from across the country.
At 17, when her elder sister tied it for her. Though she was a skilled draper, she wasn’t very gentle and this prompted Anupama to learn draping on her own as soon as possible!
How to wear one well
Learn from someone who ties a kick-ass sari. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone from your family; it can be anyone who you think ties a sari well. There is a technique involved and you need to master it to drape one properly. Once that’s done, wear saris as much as you can. Even if there are a few mistakes along the way, you’ll only get better with time. And never forget the safety pins.
Indian women are somehow born to wear the sari and they always look graceful in one, so there are slim-to-zero chances that it will look clumsy. However, try a smaller size sari if you want in the beginning. Get a two-and-a-half yard dupatta length first and wear it with palazzos, a sharara or cigarette pants, as a sari. Wear it with a regular shirt instead of a blouse. That makes it easier to introduce a sari into your daily wardrobe as well.
Rules to remember
To appear taller, hide your petticoat and make sure it is in the same colour as the sari. You can also create a monochromatic optical illusion by choosing to wear both the blouse and the sari in the same shade. If you don’t have the perfect figure, focus on your best asset, be it collarbones, well-toned arms or a radiant face. Go for a crepe instead of a silk sari if you are trying to cut bulk. Stick to the classic style of draping, which streamlines the body best. A low-cut blouse from the back can give the illusion of having curves if there are none. And don’t try the latest trend of belting the sari, unless you are blessed with a model-like long, slim torso.
How not to shiver in a sari
Pashminas are the answer. Plan your look in advance. Choose a colour that complements your sari (orange with pink, yellow with green etc) and use the pashmina as an external drape after you are done putting on your sari. Then clinch it with a belt if you like. You can also try different jackets – boxy, quilted, short with mandarin collars and long, achkan-like ones. Best in neutral colours.
Suits by Peter Punj
Everyone’s getting into suits these days! But here’s what you need to know to actually look good in one
Who he is
Managing director of the Punj Corporation, a stylish regular on the Delhi party circuit and the man who made a suit with an upturned collar and no tie look more dapper than anyone could have imagined. We made him wear sharp Tom Ford threads for our shoot.
The number of suits he owns
Anywhere between 50 to 80.
He got his first good suit
For his niece’s wedding, over 16 years ago. It was from Hugo Boss.
It depends entirely on the occasion. For a fun evening out or for an engagement, a slick Tom Ford, with its opulence and luxurious excessiveness, is perfect. But for more conservative and business-like occasions, he prefers traditional brands such as Cesare Attolini and Savile Row, with their more conventional tailoring.
How to look good in a suit
Consider your physique. Those with a medium to heavy build should avoid a slim fit and opt for one that complements their body. If keen to add height, the length of the jacket should be till the hips. Always play attention to the details. The shirt should be sharp with the cuffs ending at the wrist, the spread of the collar has to angle just right and the buttons should be placed at correct intervals so that you don’t reveal more than necessary. Add stylish accessories – cufflinks and a tie pin – to complete the look. Be a chameleon and adjust your attitude to the occasion: flamboyant at a party, exuding power at a meeting.
How to get one
No matter what the price range, always get a suit that’s made to measure. When working on a budget, you can compromise on the brand, but don’t compromise on personal tailoring. Ensure the sleeves are cut to the right length and get the darting done precisely to get the waist suppressed for a V-shaped suit.
How he experiments
By not sticking to the rules of the old shoes-and-socks combinations. Punj wears bright socks in shades of electric blue and green with tan leather shoes when out for a night in town and exchanges them with sombre grey ones for the boardroom.
A classic suit
A double breasted – navy blazer with a white shirt – often seen on Prince Charles.
Getting suits locally
He wouldn’t buy an Indian designer’s suit, just like he wouldn’t buy a Western designer’s sherwani. So only Western brands will do.
One man who looks great in a suit
There’s no better time to wear a bandhgala, especially since the world is clamouring to get into one
Who he is
The president of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the silver-haired patriarch is as known for his infectious energy at fashion weeks as he is for his classy bandhgalas. He has even curated, along with several Indian designers, a soon-to-be-launched line of bandhgalas called Neel Sutra.
More than 25 bandhgalas in a collection that he’s hand-picked not just from India, but even from countries like Spain and China, which also have bandhgala-style jackets. The Shibori print bandhgala he wore for this shoot was picked up in Hong Kong!
His first bandhgala
Made by Rajesh Pratap Singh, which he wore about 15 years ago to the opening of a Giorgio Armani store in Milan (instead of an Armani jacket) and predictably had people, including movie stars like Robert De Niro and Sophia Loren, coming up to him and asking him about the source of his stately jacket. It still remains his favourite.
Sethi has realised that a bandhgala needn’t have a stiff collar and he needn’t wear it only for weddings, functions and receptions. He made the casual bandhgala popular by experimenting with fabrics like leather, prints like the ikat, Japanese shibori and nautical styles. He’s paired the jacket with different kinds of jeans instead of traditional trousers and now has a bandhgala for every occasion, be it formal, while watching sports events or even in the hot summer.
A bandhgala requires the same amount of care as a well-tailored suit, with proper storage on wooden hangers and in garment bags. Bandhgalas with stiff collars and buckrams do not need to be dry cleaned too often, but the ones with soft collars can be cleaned more regularly.
What’s a classic?
Black, with a stiff collar attached with clasps, wide shoulders and a high cut armhole with good quality lining inside.
How to get one
Though there are several off-the-rack versions available, the fit plays a big role in shaping a bandhgala, so it’s best to get one made. It can be cut to add bulk to your frame or slim it down, so choosing a skilled tailor is important. While Delhi has many tailors who offer their services, the best bandhgalas are made in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
How to dress it up
By adding a colourful pocket square. Like the occasion when – as the guest of the Maharaja and Maharani of Jaipur – Sethi ended up wearing a bandhgala that was identical to the ones worn by the security men (who opened the doors and welcomed the guests on the walkway). He salvaged the situation by tucking a flamboyant red pocket square into his elegant black jacket.
From HT Brunch, October 27
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