After completing his masters from National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, Ambrish Sonari started working with designer JJ Valaya, and it is no wonder that he switched to social media for some major fashion and lifestyle brands in India. “I love anything fashion and wouldn’t know what I would do without it,” begins the PR executive and blogger who is planning to start a new menswear blog.
Describing himself as a ‘classicist with a bit of quirk’, colour and prints are his all-time favourites. “I think dressing up to meet someone is showing respect. I decide what to wear depending on whom I’m meeting that day,” shares the trendsetter, elaborating that it is always better to over dress when in doubt. “Also one should understand, with menswear, less is more. There is a hairline difference between these two statements,” he shares.
Saying that black is playing it safe, and isn’t something he opts for, Sonari also believes that custom clothes work for those with spunk. “Most of the apparel I own is tailor made. I just got this midnight blue suit in a modern cut and I can’t wait to pair it up. I also cannot leave home without well-fitted trousers, sunglasses and bags. And my signature bow-tie, for special events.”
Picking Alexander McQueen as his favourite designer, and tailored trousers with a well-fitting shirt as a deal clincher, you can find him shopping in off-beat places in Delhi, for unusual fabric.
Nimrita Genomal is an understated dresser who stays away from fussy and loud outfits. “I prefer blouses in neutral shades with smart pants or complementing a look with a stylish bag, the right shoes or a chic scarf,” begins the founder of communications and public relations firm Kin PR, adding that to her, style and comfort are of utmost importance. “Timeless with a touch of fun best describes my style. Simple cuts, quality fabrics and a good fit is a must. Even a basic white blouse with well-fitted jeans can be spiced up with the right accessories,” she shares, crediting her lifestyle-oriented job for exposure to current trends. Of the belief that it is important to have a certain presence when you walk into a meeting or shoot, she explains that a personal sense of style, grooming, attention to the small things speaks volumes for who you are.
Inspired by her mother, who taught her ‘how to wear make up just right’, you’ll find this professional dressing to suit her mood. “A classic knee length black dress with a statement neck piece, a designer handbag and most importantly, a pair of high heels usually seals the deal for me,” she quips, picking shoes as her favourite accessory and hues of blue, white and black as dominant wardrobe colours. Particularly proud of her latest white and gold Michael Kors sneakers, Genomal’s watch is of prime importance. Not brand conscious, her latest discovery is Mana Customs Art in Bengaluru, who handpaint Vans shoes.
I got my style inspiration from New York,” begins Pratima Chabbi, who lived in the city for a year. “It’s a great place for people watching. You could see 20 people at the same spot with completely different styles and you wouldn’t get bored,” adds the restaurant manager at Monkey Bar. “In this business, you are either standing or moving – one needs to dress accordingly,” explains Chabbi.
Not one to follow fashion icons, Chabbi has her own sense of style, which she says is also influenced by her sister Pronoti, an architect. “It’s because of her that I know how to mix textures and colours,” she explains. She describes her style as a mix of funky yet simple and favours high street brands such as Mango, Promod, Forever 21 and Vero Moda, but often finds herself drawn to street shopping. “The two most-loved and used pieces in my wardrobe are my purple cotton trousers and leather jackets, bought from a thrift store in New York,” reveals Chabbi, who’s usually in denims or palazzos with tops that contrast and complement. Her go-to accessories include simple silver bangles and rings she has preserved for years from Mumbai streets. “My work allows me the freedom to experiment, but I also represent my company so I try to blend my own personal style and what the company stands for,” she shares.
Nirmala Balakrishnan, who owns popular nightlife spot Skyye Bar and gastropub Blimey, was quite tired of the corporate world, when she decided to start her own business. But her commitment to dressing sharp for work, which she picked up during her MBA days continues to this day. “When you make an effort to dress well to work, it reflects how you feel about work. It also shows that you would put the same amount of effort and detailing into everything else you do,” she tells us. She herself likes to keep it crisp in the office, often pairing denims with a chic jacket, or a simple skirt with a light blouse, heels and colourful accessories.
“You need to dress in a way that commands respect and makes people take you seriously. It should also reflect who you are as a person. I avoid loose, shabby clothes,” she reveals, adding that she opts for light colours rather than slimming dark shades, to challenge herself into working on her flaws. Her style cues come from various people in her life, from her mother for her saris to her friends and stars like Deepika Padukone.
Apart from dressing well, she says that fitness and health are things that she is very conscious about and feels that people need to be more aware of their size and dress accordingly.
Dividing his time between boardroom meetings, running his father’s plastic company, SynPack and attending conferences across the globe, Naushik Kabra takes his clothes very seriously. “I am a minimalistic dresser. I am all about the fabric and the cut,” he begins, adding that staying true to one’s own style is the best way to dress. Sharp and original, this businessman doesn’t spend too much time deciding what to wear because everything he buys fits his style. While being in his factory may require him to get his hands dirty, the 28-year-old believes the way you dress communicates a lot about who you are. “I meet people all day from clients to vendors. It’s essential for me to be well dressed, to create the right impression,” shares the CEO, adding that his top accessory is his Rado watch.
Work trips double as shopping sprees, and one way or the other he will return with a pair of shoes! “It’s the one indulgence I can never resist. It’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone, or at least I do,” he quips. You’ll find him sporting Armani and Versace suits when the occasion demands, and Zara, D&G and Banana Republic when on holiday. “I always have a well-cut blazer in my car, because when it comes to business, the next pretty girl who walks by could well be a CEO I could work with,” he signs off.
After an MBA in finance, Madhavi Rongala moved to Connecticut, USA where she worked in a boutique investment firm. But on returning to India, she followed her dream of being part of the retail business, with the Yellow Button Store, a lifestyle boutique where she initially started experimenting with different styles and garments. Now with the Yellow Button Store closed, handloom shop, The House of Taamara, is her new venture and her style has become synonymous with saris, which despite what one would think, she feels is extremely comfortable to run around in.
“Mostly I’m in Bengal or Mangalagiri cotton saris and lots of ikats — I absolutely love Andhra saris,” she tells us. Describing her style as understated chic, Rongala shares that she makes her outfits stand out by teaming her saris with funky, contrasting blouses and chunky antique silver jewellry. “I recently got myself a five-layered neck piece from a hole-in- the-wall silver shop in Jaipur, which is my current favourite,” she enthuses.
While she tells us that she is “not a Bollywood person at all,” she admits she loves the way Kangana Ranaut and Lisa Haydon dress themselves. Though her biggest inspiration is Laila Tyabji, the founder of Dastkar. “She is always so immaculately turned out and I’ve never seen her repeat a sari,” she explains, adding that her most loved brand is Bangalore-based khadi label, Metaphor Racha.
Speaking about the importance of making an effort with dressing for the office, she says it’s not merely about looking good but also about feeling good. “It arms you with the confidence needed to deal with challenging tasks, colleagues and bosses.”
She highly recommends the Meher Chand market in Delhi, where she makes regular stops for some retail therapy. “It’s a place that is chock-a-block with designers both big and small and a host of antique stores that makes for an exciting shopping experience,” she concludes.