KARACHI: It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. Style is not just about beautiful clothes. The prettiest outfits can look simply awful if they are styled badly. Vidya Balan in this lovely Sabyasachi Mukherjee jora at the Cannes film festival is a prime example.
A great look is about a whole lot more than just the outfit. Hairstyle and make-up are of course central, but the way an outfit is draped is also key. Simple adjustments like the way the dupatta is worn, the way a scarf is arranged and the use of belts to accent your waist or hips can completely alter the effect that an outfit gives. Layering is another skilful technique that can add interest to an ensemble. A cropped embroidered jacket over jeans or a kurta can take an outfit from “meh” to “wow”. Other great layering ideas include wearing a tank top over a t-shirt, throwing a sheer top over an embellished slip and using stoles and shawls to accent an ensemble.
Clever styling helps you get more out of your clothing as you can wear the same clothes in very different ways. For example, there are dozens of ways to style the versatile plain white shadow-work kameez. Wear it with jeans, a printed cotton scarf, khusas and chunky bracelets for a funky, laid-back air. Team it with a lace and chiffon dupatta, cigarette pants, pearls, huge sunglasses and a neat low ponytail for a more formal look.
Styling is one of the reasons so many women are obsessed with footwear. The right shoes can make or break an outfit. Consider this anarkali from the Ritu Kumar website. The “nude” apparent Louboutins are totally wrong for this piece. For a start, they are the wrong shade for the model’s skin. Louboutin now do “nude” shoes in 15 different shades and styles, and a shade matching the model’s skin tone would have been a better bet. Even if the shoe had been the right shade, this style is too chunky for the ethnic anarkali. Just because a shoe is a “designer” piece, it doesn’t mean you can pair it with everything. If heels were a must, then a strappy sandal or a peep toe would have been a better bet with this suit. A kolapuri chappal, however, would have been the best bet, as you can see from this picture from the Ritu Kumar Lakme Fashion week show.
While shoes are important, accessories are the cornerstones of styling. Belts, handbags, scarves and jewellery can totally transform the effect that an outfit gives. Misha Lakhani, for example, wowed Lahore with her debut Bridal collection at PFDC L’Oreal Bridal Week in 2012 but was criticised for not using any jewellery. Most commentators felt that the bridal ensembles looked incomplete on the ramp without jewellery and this was a reproach that Lakhani addressed in her show this year. Beyond the ramp, everyday outfits also look better with the right accessories. Costume jewellery comes into its own here as bold necklaces, rings and cuffs can give a trendy twist to any outfit.
Styling is something that designers take seriously, both for the ramp and for the red carpet. At this year’s Veet Celebration of Beauty, several models mentioned that the designers of their outfits had given them input on styling. Similarly, Hira Tareen explained that Natasha of Natasha’s Salon had not only done her hair and make-up for the Lamhaa premiere, she had even helped her put together an entire look by loaning her accessories such as chunky gold cuff.
It’s easy to understand why stylists and designers prefer to take charge considering Vidya Balan’s Cannes Red Carpet disasters. Her aging hairstyle, grandmother-like pearls and boxy handbag have over-whelmed this red sari. A softer hairstyle and edgier accessories could have compensated for the frumpy blouse but then Vidya is known for her eccentric dress sense. She can look glamorous when she wants to but she seems to delight in scandalising the fashion world.
Meanwhile, fashionable celebrities on both sides of the border continue to inspire the rest of us to pay more attention to styling. It’s interesting to see how some stacked bracelets or a statement necklace can instantly add a hip vibe. An eye-catching bag or some pretty shoes can bring a look together. A change in hairstyle can transform the impression you make. So play with your outfits — experiment with hairstyles, draping and accessories. There’s more to style than picking the most gorgeous jora on the rack.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2013.
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