Dress rehearsal
In the battle between casual and formal wear, it is always the former that gets an undue advantage. When staring down at a 10-hour workday, most of us tend to give-up easily on our fixation to look great for comfort. While the casual outfit often triumphs, an unscheduled meeting easily lands one in a fix. The power dress that gives that extra bit of confidence becomes the need of the hour. In such scenarios, what do you wear? How do you look formal without having to run home and change your outfit? Here are a few tips to turn your casual look into a formal one:

A model teams a casual dress with a jacket by Anita Dongre

Keep a blazer handy
Be it a dress or a pant and tee, put on a jacket and you instantly get a semi-formal look. “For women, a longer blazer works well with dress pants and a shorter one with a pencil skirt,” says Leepakshi Ellawadi who has designed costumes for films such as ABCD: Any Body Can Dance and the upcoming film, Ek Villain. Apart from blazers, V-neck cardigans also allow you to experiment with the formal look. Keep it handy in the office drawer and you will be ready to go for presentations or boardroom meetings whenever needed. Avoid skin-tight dresses and sundresses, as they are way too informal. “Women can experiment with a semi-fused jacket on a white shirt,” adds Vikram Phadnis.

Dos and don’ts for women
>> Women should remember to keep the make-up minimal. Going overboard with make-up is a strict no-no
>> This season’s colour palette is decidedly softer, so it’s advisable that you pull your hair back and sweep across some nude make-up
>> Hair shouldn’t be fuzzy and preferably must be neatly tied. If not, go for the neatly combed style. Keep a check on eyebrows and upper lip. Also, use a mild tone of a lip stain instead of red, pink or maroon
>> Always keep make-up essentials like compact, mascara, cheek/lip tint in your office drawer for a quick touch up

Jennifer Lopez flaunts minimal make-up. Pic/AFP

Trust the jackets and cardigans
Smart casual jackets can easily pass off as a formal look if teamed with the right colours. However, make sure they have zero embellishments. “Using a simple blazer or a suit jacket preferably in colours like black or brown can help formalise the look. For jeans, try and invest in darker shades. Faded and torn jeans do not work well when you mean business,” says  Leepakshi Ellawadi. Meanwhile,  designer Vikram Phadnis suggests a waist coat over a linen shirt for men. Try investing in shirts, which may not be formal but are completely acceptable when you are going in for a meeting. By that, we mean patterns such as oxford, plaid, and poplin are perfectly acceptable. Twill, herringbone, and broadcloth are more formal and nice to use if sprucing up. Hawaiian and irregular patterns are a big no-no.

Trust Farhan Akhtar to sport a semi-formal look in a crisp shirt, jacket and dark denims. File Pic

While men do not have the luxury of using jewellery, they have ample options such as watches, belts, shoes and ties. “Roll up a long-sleeved khadi shirt and slide in a watch. A rose gold watch for instance goes very well with a tan belt and shoes,” says Ellawadi.

What started off as a basic need is a style statement now. Bags not only help you store your files and laptop but have also become an important accessory. Men can invest in a good-quality office bag preferably in brown, black or grey so that they can pair it with maximum outfits. You could use briefcase bags, laptop bags or huge bags with straps. The idea is to put all-important papers and files in it.

Ties and tie pins work wonders when faced with a roadblock. Team a well-fitted semi-formal shirt with a tie and add a tie pin. This could further be teamed up with jeans, a watch, a belt, slip on shoes (those without laces) and an office bag.