Mumbai's starriest stylist Sapna Bhavnani has a gift for the girlies. Style-o-Wat: A Girl's Guide to Looking Great is a wacky book of styles for playing dress-up as six fun characters. To show us how, Sapna transformed Goth Girl Avnee into a chic Librarian, in no time
"Everyone seems to be in pursuit of outward beauty, and to many Style-o-Wat might seem like a book promoting just that," says stylist iconoclast Sapna Bhavnani, looking killer in all-black at Mad-o-Wat, her funky Bandra salon. "The reason I thought of writing this book was to help introduce you to the beautiful world of fantasy and dress-up. Besides, street fashion is non-existent in India. All you see are tacky imitations of the latest Bollywood films."
Published by Scholastic, the skinny paperback of cover-to-cover graphic art and collages (illustrated by Anushka Anand) lets you play 6 chic international girl characters. "As a girl growing up partly in India and then in America, I had the pleasure of going through all the phases shown in this book, from Punk Rock Girl to Bratty Girl to Tomboy Girl," Sapna tells you, till she got to the best one: "Myself".
You won't find a chapter on Myself Girl here, because "that is a stage we all get to in our own time". "So, try to play every character at least once; life would be boring if you went through it entirely just as Goth Girl or a Boho," says Sapna.
Before: Goth Girl
21-year-old Avnee is a Goth Girl to the core: "This is how I always dress up"
Hair: "The length of hair does not matter in this look," says Sapna. Get a fringe (short, long, sloped or V-shaped) and keep the rest of your hair flat, straight and sleek. For a complete goth feel, buy spray in temporary Blue Black or Vampire Red hair colour.
Make-up: Use black kohl pencil for the eyes, talcum powder for a bloodless complexion and black lipstick.
Intense Goth: Borrow dad's razor. Carefully shave off your eyebrows and draw new ones.
Shoes: Pointy toes and boots are the best.
Accessories: Black bag; if you're especially wicked, paint a coffin on it with fabric paint; Ankh pendant (ancient Egyptian symbol of eternal life). Black bracelet and paperclip belt-chain; stripy socks; Voodoo doll (wrap black string around a sock to absorb all the dark energies around you); journal for drawing bats and writing angst poetry.
Sapna's craft tip: The stapler is the lazy girl's sewing machine.
Sapna's wardrobe tip: A simple long black skirt and long-sleeved black shirt are mandatory in any goth closet.
Wardrobe: Raid your mom's closet, Sapna advises the girls. Wear her black slip. Use safety pins if it's too loose; and let them show! Tie black lace around the neck. Grab mommy's black fishnets and make gloves. Cut holes in the toe section for your fingers.
Transformation to Librarian
"Everything about the librarian girl spells neat," says Sapna, as she oils Avnee's short locks and makes a centre parting to divide her hair into two sections. "Egg white is a non-greasy substitute, if you don't mind a momentary stink. Use lots of pins to keep them in place. If you are feeling adventurous, cut a short fringe to hide your frown marks. A bun is the done thing if your hair is long. If a bun is boring even for you, make two braids and tie them on top of your head."
Wardrobe: Sapna put Avnee in a crispy white shirt. "It's a must. You can also substitute with a bad nylon blouse if you live on the edge. It was topped with a cardigan "an absolute must, preferably grey to suit your drabby appearance". "Maraud the cupboard of any ageing female relative grandma, ancient aunt, ageing cousin. Find an A-line plaid skirt that sits high on your waist and flares out at the knees."
Shoes: The shoes must be flat pumps with a buckle. Mary Janes or ballet flats will also do.
Sock: While opaque white socks are traditional, you could opt for bright colours or classic red because you are not eighty yet.
Accessories: Plastic pearl necklace, grandma's big leather purse to hold a fountain pen, your sketchbook and the latest feminist manifesto. Stitch buttons onto anything. Collect vintage buttons from your aunties and grandmas and glue onto your sketchbook cover, where you write your novella. Pick up a lace hanky to delicately dab your nose while you feed the pigeons and knit.
Spectacles: If you don't already wear glasses, buy some cheap clear glass frames. Attach a long string of beads so they don't get misplaced when you daydream about fantastical stories. The transformation is complete!
How to get Boho girl's hair:
Take 10 random triangular hair sections. Grab a tailcomb or a toothbrush. Start backcombing the hair in each section to stimulate a dreadlock (dead matted hair forming a lock, popularised by singer Bob Marley). Then, take 5 random sections and braid each.
To braid, divide a section into 3 equal parts. Overlap strip 1 over strip 2. Overlap strip 3 over strip 1. Overlap strip 2 over strip 3... repeat till you reach the end of the line.
Leave the rest of your hair free-flowing. Go for a walk and collect feathers to accessorise your hair; do wash the feathers!
Sapna's tip: Do not let hair look over-styled. The idea is to be free-flowing.
How to be the Tomboy girl:
Being a tomboy, is like being a 2 in 1. Unlike most chicks, you hide your girlie inside and put on a boy exterior to fool people.
>>You cannot be a tomboy and sport long hair. Short, spiky, even mohawky on a good day. So, bring out all the eggs in the refrigerator and start styling.
>>Wear the wife beater: A sleeveless shirt, tank top or singlet.
>>Wear the hoody: Without a hoody, you are still going to be an imposter.
>>Baggy cargo shorts, checked shirts with tees inside and baseball hats make the cut.
How to be the Boho chick:
You like the Western influence, but also like a little bit of the East mixed in.
>>You like long, long earrings but not too heavy.
>>Chunky, beaded necklaces and rings and anklets (either silver ones with bells or hand crocheted) are a must-have.
>>Grab grandpa's white dhoti and grandma's sari blouse. Then grab your favourite tee and put them all together.
>>The animal lover in you will not let you wear leather, so stick to rubber slippers or canvas sneakers.
Pages from Style-o-Wot! tell you how to get your hair and make-up right for the goth girl look. Published by Scholastic, the book by Sapna Bhavnani (illustrated by Anushka Anand) is available for
Music to dress up to:
Sapna: "Music sets the tone for everything in life. We all have personal soundtracks that we groove to in everyday life. I hope this selection helps you pick yours."
For Punk Rock Girl: Dead Kennedys (Drug Me)
Ramones (I Wanna Be Sedated)
The Dead Milkmen (Taking Retards to the Zoo)
Sex Pistols (God Save the Queen)
The Clash (I Fought the Law)
For Hip Hop Girl: Mos Def (Ms Fat Booty)
The Pharcyde (Passing Me By)
A Tribe Called Quest (Scenario)
The Beastie Boys (Brass Monkey)
Grandmaster Flash (The Message)
For Goth Girl: Siouxsie and the Banshees (Red Light)
Ministry (Everyday is Halloween)
Nine Inch Nails (Closer)
Bauhaus (Bela Lugosis Dead)
Marilyn Manson (The Beautiful People)
For Boho Girl: America (A Horse with No Name)
The Beatle (Across the Universe)
Bob Dylan (The Times They Are A-Changing)
Jefferson Airplane (Stop Children What's That Sound)
Susheela Raman (Ye Mera Deewanapan Hai)
For Librarian Girl: Nina Simone (Feeling Good)
Doris Day (Que Sera Sera)
Chuck Berry (You're A Theme For A Dream)
Billie Holiday (Solitude)
Madeleine Peyroux (Don't Wait Too Long)
For Tomboy Girl: Green Day (Basket Case)
Nirvana (Smells Like Teen Spirit)
Pearl Jam (Black)
Metallica (Nothing Else Matters)
System of a Down (Prison Song)
For Bratty Girl: Britney Spears (I'm Not A Girl. Not Yet A Woman)
Justin Timberlake (Sexy Back)
Kylie Minogue (Can't Get You Out of My Head)
Pussycat Dolls feat. Snoop Dog (Buttons)
Avril Lavigne (Girlfriend)