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Experiments with couture

We asked girls who are achievers in their own right but usually dress casually to try out some designer wear. They enjoyed the experience all right

The morning drill of pulling on the nth t-shirt and the favoured pair of types of denim can pall after some time. The love for personal staples is a long lasting one but isn’t variety the spice of life? It’s good not to worry too much about what people will say but your wardrobe can become repetitive.

The attitude that clothes should only ensure comfort — that’s what they’re for — has fashion designers tearing their hair out. The gurus have their own school of thought, that says life is boring without frills. One can dress up in both style and comfort: that’s the thumb rule fashion designers would like us all to follow.

To put this theory to test, we asked three young adults in their twenties to give up their usual sense of dressing for a day and volunteer to sport creations by the fashion designers of the country. We document their experience, in the setting of a new self- image affected by the outfit they wear, as they do their daily jobs.

1. Deeya Bajaj, who returned a week ago after climbing Mt. Everest with her dad, took on our challenge of wearing a curated look by the indie label Yavi. An adventurer at heart, clothing is not something in which she invests much of her time.

It’s her sisters whose help she seeks if she is required to ‘dress up’. Her staples are performance wear, guided by her interest and experience in adventure sports that come with her job, as she manages business development and operation for her father’s adventure sports agency.

In a relaxed mood on a Saturday afternoon, she tells us about her initial confusion between the many separates she was given by the team at Yavï by Yadvi Agarwal. But she figured it out later, she says. A hand dip-dyed silk kurta paired with quilted jacket and pants with floral print is not something she would wear otherwise.“I’m loving it in this heat,” says Deeya who is dealing with the drastic shift in temperature, that is from minus 40 degrees celsius to more than 40 degrees Celsius. “Climbers wear layers of silk to keep warm even with moisture,” she says, this being the only instance she would have worn silk while doing her favourite thing. Curious about the details in the outfit, she accepts that she does not give clothing much of a thought. But things might change now, as she feels inspired by this new kind of adventure she had of ‘dressing up’.

 

2. Aruna, a law graduate, has a different outlook on clothing altogether. As a professional, she has to don a uniform. But her personal style is equally easy, as soon as she is out of the courtroom. She put on hold her natural sense of being for a day and mingled with a curated look by the label — The Pot Plant by Sanya Suri and Resham Karmchandani. Seen in what she calls ‘ghar ke kapde’ for all her casual appearances, this one was a bit far-fetched for her, with a handwoven mulmul cotton kurta teamed with a sarong, cut to fall seamlessly around the bottom. “The outfit got me out of my comfort zone, in a good way. I would not have worn anything like that otherwise.” When asked how she chooses her daily wear she says, “It depends on the forum. If it’s a casual setting, I will be mostly wearing an old comfy item. I don’t care much about what I am wearing if I am with my friends. When it is about work, yes I do make an effort.”

Since these outfits by designers come at a cost, Aruna feels the team behind these labels can work towards getting these outfits to more people and reach other economic spectrums. “There is nothing I want to change about this outfit. The experience has definitely opened me up to considering more styles for myself,” she adds.

3. Then there’s Swati Dey, a 27-year-old single professional. You will typically see her in traditional separates paired with contemporary accessories. She wears strong colours, complementing her dark complexion. For us, she agreed to wear a yellow Pooja Shroff maxi dress that came with a floral embroidered shrug. We meet her for a small photo session, dressed in the suggested outfit covering her slender frame, where she tells us what she thought of this outfit she was asked to wear. “When I first saw the dress, I felt I would look hideous due to my extremely lean physique,” says Dey in an apprehensive tone. Adding, “Also, society expects us all to be conform to a certain shape.”

As someone who feels comfortable in her own skin, the feeling of body positivity won over-anxiety as she got into the dress. “The bright colours gave me a happy feeling, leaving behind my unassertiveness and further enhancing my confidence as I stepped out of the house.” Swati confessed some awkward but complimenting moments between her and strangers on the way to the office.

With a wardrobe consisting of buys from high street labels as well as flea markets in Delhi, she feels the garments industry could be more size-inclusive for a figure like hers. “I am waiting to see some innovation that helps people buy the right size, especially in readymade clothing,” tells Dey pointing at the custom fit of Shroff’s outfit.

Apart from the compliments at work, a full day in a designer dress confirmed her belief that her self-confidence matters a lot more than others’ restrictive expectations and understanding of a personality. We asked designer Pooja Shroff about the kind of women she associates her label with, to which she says women with a strong identity and those who feel good about themselves are the kind of women she looks forward to while dressing up.

We asked Dey if anything could be made better about the dress, to which she responded the fabric could have been lighter, considering if a person wants to wear it to work. But maybe, it’s just her.