Be fashionable, be comfortable

When Diane Von Furstenberg, the Belgian priestess of fashion, came up with a collection that had models strutting in easy-pyjama pants and printed dresses in her Spring Summer collection 2012, fashionistas took notice. Soon Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and Dries Van Noten also followed suit with different versions of printed silk pyjamas. Critics were baffled. Could style and comfort really go hand in hand?

college students
College student, Yashraj, likes to replace the blazer with an oversized plaid shirt to look stylish yet comfortable. Jeena Sharma, a fashion writer, teams up a high-waist pencil skirt and a crop top that is both appropriate for the day as well as night. Pic/ Shadab Khan

Lately, it hardly did. Looking trendy, very often meant suffering silently. While pumps made one look tall and elegant, they cause serious injuries to the toes. But the good thing about fashion is that it changes so often. And this season it might just bring a sigh of relief in the form of easy-going fabrics in silk and cotton, silhouettes that suit every body type and hemlines that will make your parents proud of you.

Designer Giambattista Valli gave a whole new definition to full skirts during Paris Fashion Week Autmn/Winter 2013-14

Comfort with style
Explains fashion designer Nimish Shah, who is known for his minimalistic designs and clean cuts, “It is about building an individual identity and not just following a trend. People are more aware of their bodies now and know what suits them best. Maxi dresses, pyjama pants and midi-length dresses are not just trendy for women this season, but have now become classics that transcend eras.”

“Fashion has been an amalgamation of different trends. This season it is more about clothes that are anti-fits (loose-fitting) something that makes people comfortable in their own skin,” says fashion designer Rajat Tangri. High street brands, too, are not far away from capitalising on this trend. Increasingly, a lot of standalone boutiques as well as individual brands are running out of maxi dresses and flats on a daily basis.

(Extreme left) Aditi Rao Hydari in an easy jumpsuit. (Centre) A model in a white maxi dress by Nimish Shah. (Right) A model  sports a grunge look in the Dries Van Noten menswear Spring/Summer show 2014

Says Mohita Rastogi, head of design, Elle Fashionwear, “Fashion at one time used to be a very uniform code and used to be targeted towards the more affluent customer. Today, with the democratisation of fashion, people have developed their unique sense of style. They have significantly moved towards casual wear. We currently stock a lot of midi length dresses and palazzo pants that are very much in vogue this season.”

Mix and Match
Since maxi skirts, oversized shirts and jumpsuits come under the loungewear category, it is very important to style them the right way, without making things look too casual, say experts. Nikhil Mansata, a stylist, elaborates, “Women can wear anything in satin fabric as it doesn’t stick to the body and creates a nice contrast against it. Men can wear oversized long shirts with flared printed pyjamas to give a very easy yet stylish look.” But simpler silhouettes are more easy to carry off. Shah cautions, “Style should be an inspiration and not a mockery. It is great that loungewear is doubling up as day wear and club wear but that doesn’t mean you wear a pyjama that makes you look like you have come straight out of bed. In such times, the fabric and the cut become very important.  For example, a midi length skirt will demand a court shoe and not flats. Similarly, the length of the maxi dress makes a huge difference; it should be long enough for you to walk without the fabric coming in between your feet.”

(Left) Jumpsuits were a clear favourite in Stella McCartney’s Spring Summer 2013 collection during Paris Fashion Week. (Right) A model walks the runway for Etro menswear Spring/Summer show 2014 in Milan. Pics/Getty Images

Day for Night
A simple play of accessories and layering makes it a very versatile offering for the day as well as night. Especially for someone like fashion writer Jeena Sharma, who juggles with odd timings at work. “ I don’t really have fixed timings and therefore, it becomes extremely important to put on something that is easy to carry off in the morning as well as night. A crop top, a well-tailored blazer and a midi-length pencil skirt works great during office hours.

The same blazer can be taken off during the night to create a subtle yet sexy look for sit down dinner or even a night-out,” she says. Veteran fashion designer Anita Dongre thinks that apart from styling, accessories play a big role in defining the look for women. “Slip on a pair of platform sandals, along with layered necklaces and stacked bracelets. During the day, replace the platforms with ballet flats, and add a kick of color with a multi-hued bag. For the truly daring, add a bold bracelet, like a neon cuff.”

Men, too, usually slow on the uptake when it comes to fashion, are happy they can finally be cool without much effort. Says Yashraj, a college student, “I love blazers but the weather doesn’t really allow me to wear them every day and besides, the fabric can make it very uncomfortable. In such times, a handy oversized shirt in plaid is my go-to. Linen pants and dhoti pants work best.” With so many options, you are spoilt for choice. In a way, the fashion critics were wrong, style and comfort can go together!

Style dos
1. Wear crop tops that cover the belly button. You don’t want to show too much skin!
2. Sport flats as they are not only comfortable but also versatile.
3. Accessories play a crucial role in accentuating a look

1. Wear heels with maxi dresses. Instead opt for sandals
2. The length of the maxi dress is important. It should neither be too short nor too long. A little below the ankle is just fine
3. Instead of cotton pyjamas that give you an out-of-the-bed look, settle for a printed, silk one to appear chic 

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