Find your style and flaunt it, cheap!

FASHION FILE

The one thing Eve had easy when the world began that we don’t today, aside from not having to juggle home and work, was that she never had to complain as far as clothes went — haute couture isn’t really one’s top priority when your only daily worry is making sure you don’t eat fruit from a certain tree!

Trees laden with fruit or not, choice is something we’re certainly spoilt for here in India.  Our shopping options range from street fashion to luxury brands that we only see in magazines that were not published in India a decade ago.

There’s something distinctive about our  ability to effectively mix western and eastern cultures, forging style that is both eclectic and chic.  All we have to do is walk down Commercial Street, Bangalore or Sarojini Market, New Delhi, to find practically everything to fill a new wardrobe . 

While I do love the mall culture and how easy it is to find branded merchandise just two steps away, there’s something  unnerving about walking into a restaurant and finding there’s somebody wearing the same shirt you are or, if you’re not wearing it, is in your cupboard at home!  Of course, the fact that malls have airconditioning does go a long way in making them anybody’s one-stop fashion fix.

This is where street fashion comes in.  Everything you buy (even if it’s something you dug out of an export surplus pile) seems fairly unique — especially when mixed and matched. If you think of it, the streets were where we shopped when we were in college and couldn’t really afford much else. 

Funky shoes end up costing practically nothing, especially when you compare the 100 bucks it cost for a pair of Osho chappals as opposed to flat, fancy slippers from a branded store that are 9 times the cost, not half as comfortable and basically tend to match just one item of clothing (when Osho chappals actually look great with jeans and practically everything else too).

For one thing, real fashion is never really zeitgeist dictated, although I have to admit that being Indians, we are more ‘Bollywood dictated’ if nothing else.  Way back when, at a time when Inspector Chulbul Pandey was also known as Salman Khan, salwar kameezes from the Kabootar song in Maine Pyaar Kiya were the next best thing to sliced bread it seemed!

The famed salwar kameez came in three colours if I remember right too!  Our Indian fashion psyche seems attuned to what our film stars wear, and that invariably reflects on what is stocked at our street shops as well.

Of course, going by the fact that Bollywood stars tend to dress in designer clothes from across the pond for every occasion other than some mandatory ‘music release’ where they dress like the character they play, a desi Kareena notwithstanding, everything they wear is available on the streets for nearly one-tenth the cost!

Let’s not forget Bagwati (the rather expensive Hermes Kelley bag) in Zindagi na Milegi Dobara — you could probably find a hundred more Lajwantis (if I may call replicas that) that are much more affordable (reports say this French group can’t meet the growing demand for luxury)!  In any case, does everybody really have to own something made in ostrich leather?

Either ways, Bollywood or not, if there’s one thing that seriously influences one’s fashion, it’s basic common sense. Pairing a shiny kurti or tunic with a decent pair of tights and a stole probably works a lot better than wearing it like a dress. Orange and green may work together — provided the outfit is not paired with purple shoes!  Choosing quirky accessories to jazz up staid outfits is much easier when the whole load costs just a little more than your commute to Fashion Street. 

The amazing thing about fashion in India is, however, that no matter what fashion trends seem to be ruling the runways the world over, there’s nothing really that limits our sense of style. Bling will always be in, even if black is back.

Bohemian or conventional, there’s something that appeals to everybody, provided one’s enthusiasm for fashion is accompanied with a good dose of patience to search for things that fit the right budget and the right waistline! The key to dressing right is feeling great in your clothes, knowing what looks good on you and feeling sure of yourself no matter where you are or where your clothes came from.

Ultimately, however, what makes for the most appealing of any individuals’ sense of fashion is inevitably complemented with confidence. 

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