It could be a scarf, a jacket, a cardigan or even an anti-wrinkle spray that could make all the difference when you are told to go for a client meeting, on a day when you are wearing casuals to work. Nikshubha Garg asks ace designers and stylists for essential elements to keep in the office locker to transform a casual look to a formal one
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.
Nikhil Thampi, who is one of the stylists in the second season of Style & the City on Fox Traveller, tells Phorum Dalal about taking inspiration from a city to create outfits for celebrities
Q.What is the concept of your show, Style & the City?
A. For the second season, the Fox Traveller crew was looking to feature newer, younger talent, and I was approached to do the show. In each episode, a celebrity gives me a brief for a garment that I create within 48 hours. After listening to the celebrity’s demand, I take inspiration from one Indian city and set out to source material. For example, Anushka Manchanda gave me a Cross, along with a few pointers. She wanted to wear the garment for an event, and wanted something glamorous and feminine. For this, we decided on Goa. I was inspired by its beautiful churches.
Q. What was your schedule while working on the garment?
A. Once I chose the city, I would board a flight within four hours, my team would do a recce with the local weavers, painters and karigars and an entire day is spent sourcing the material. While Lakme Fashion Week gave me six months to prepare, the schedule for creating the garment within two days was really hectic. One garment took me to Kanchipuram, which is a few hours drive from Chennai. It was the most enriching experience, as I got to meet the weavers and see their traditional weaving.
Q. From working in a workshop, to facing the camera, how has the experience been?
A. I have had many flattering moments during the shooting for Style and The City. Being in the industry for only two years, little did I expect people to recognise me. For the first recce, I went in my shorts and tee. When I realised that people knew me, it was overwhelming. I made sure I was better dressed the next time.
Q. Any memorable moments you remember from the show?
A. When we were in Chennai, the channel crew decided to add a fun element to the show and made me and the host Kirat Bhattal dance around life-size posters of Tollywood actors on the famous Marina Beach. It was really funny yet embarrassing, but the crew managed to capture the fun element.
The show airs on Fox Traveller every Thursday and Friday at 10 pm