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Smart ideas to spruce up your wardrobe

Shilpa Shet
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March 09, 2007

You buy lots of clothes. Yet, you always seem to have 'nothing to wear'.

And if your work culture involves lots of meetings, conferences and fields trips, then it's safer to be dressed for success.

Now, does that mean you need to spend a bomb on buying new clothes?

No! Just invest in clothes and accessories that complement each other, and understand how to mix and match the separates for a brand new look, every time.


Indira Baikerikar, a designer who manages Vedaant, a boutique in Khar, Mumbai says, "If you have three pairs of trousers, three skirts, one blazer (all in neutral colours like black, brown, navy blue and grey) and a couple of blouses, you are set for any formal event. Three sets of pumps are a must too."

For those who don't like pumps, open toe sandals with heels will do just fine.

The same formal pants and skirts can be paired with printed tops for a more casual look, she adds.

Other must-haves include:

~ Black and white striped terrycot trousers.

~ Blouses in solid colours.

~ Single breasted formal blazer with collar.

~ Scarves: Two will do, says Indira. One should be plain and the other printed. "These can be mixed and matched with different blouses for a fresh look every time," she adds.

"It's a good idea to build up your formal wardrobe gradually," says Indira.


Experiment with these separates for a less formal look:

~ Team a long-sleeved blouse or shirt with blue jeans for a semi-casual look.

~ Sleeveless vests can be coupled with a short skirt and scarf for that chic look.

~ Printed cotton pants or skirts (from a Gujarat/Rajasthan emporium) can teamed  with solid colour shirts or blouses. With formal pumps they can pass off for semi-casual wear.

~ Coloured beads, which could be one toned or multi-coloured, will add that trendy, yet chic touch. Diamond or pearl earrings go well with most western outfits while silver looks good with ethnic wear.

Go ethnic

Many women prefer ethnic wear for formal dos as they are more versatile.

Naina Shah, a boutique owner in Pune says a plain long cotton top goes very well with a printed salwar and dupatta. Salwar kameezes can be mixed and matched too, she says.

"I recommend shorter tops (mid-thigh) with salwars or churidaars. Of course, you must be able to carry off the latter. If you feel uncomfortable, I recommend the salwars. Sometimes patialas too can really change the entire look, " says Naina.

Must-haves in ethnic wear include:

~One white and black salwar and churidaar, each. 

~ One printed silk dupatta. This could be coupled with white lucknowis (loose long tops).

~ Three sets of printed salwar and dupatta for mixing and matching.

~ One white and dark kurta (in solid colours  like black, maroon or dark blue).

~ Accessories like stone earrings, pearls, bangles or bracelets in matching colours.

~ Two sandals, one white and one black to go with most outfits.

~ Ditto with bags or purses.

Max those old clothes

Jazz up an old plain top by stitching sequins, motifs or simply painting some designs using acrylic paints. A tailor can do all this for Rs 50 (simple design).

Alternatively, you could get a do-it-yourself kit available at local embroidery stores. Choose from abla (lac or latex) that can be attached with glue or by ironing them on to your clothes (they have rubberised glue on one side that melts into the fabric and is very sturdy). You could also try laces and strips of embroidery. Some shops have easily applicable pre-embroidered motifs.

Change the look of a top by merely sewing new buttons on to it.

Dye light coloured clothes, a different colour. But ensure that the quality of the dye is good, as it can affect the quality of the clothes. Usually light coloured cottons take well to dyes.

Now, get dressed for success!

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