Winter’s nearly here, uncomfortably close and breathing creepily down my neck like the weirdo I once met on the Metro. I do not like winter. It calls for putting away every fun item of clothing I own and swaddling myself in boring colours instead. This is because retailers in the city peddle a largely Western sartorial ethos, which is all about light-absorbing, warmth-maximising staples like navy, black, grey and brown. But we’re not the West! We’re a colourful country! I’d love me a warm garment in gulaal-fuschia or ambi- green, colours found only on silk saris. I’d also like winter clothes the colour of mithai- Digene-pink rasgulla, vomit-green pista barfi, sunny yellow motichoor laddoo.
But thanks to Big Corp that’s pushed small, indigenous colour-friendly businesses out, I’m left shaking my head at a 10 feet tall Marks and Spencer hoarding with a blonde woman in an all-navy outfit with the universal gorgeously bored expression of every model in the world. So I get my colour fix from accessories. (See Fig. 1.1 ) I’m deeply invested in violently coloured shawls, hats, mufflers, socks, leggings and the occasional tiered skirt while the primary aspect of my wardrobe remains wretchedly grey and colourless, much like the smog outside. On especially drab days, I trek it to Dilli Haat for some Vitamin C. There are pashminas in pastels that mimic the colour of macarons and rough, nubby wool mufflers drenched in every shade on the Pantone inventory. So wow. Much nayansukh.
Before I got creative with fashion, I dressed mostly in black in the winters. Black was safe and also economical for a broke college student who shopped exclusively at third and fourth sales once a year. (See Fig 1.2- me in college, sunning myself like a goddamn cat. And studying, which is really the only difference between me and a cat at the moment the picture was taken.) When I got my first job, I realised, with a sinking heart, that my secret colour cravings were far from being indulged. Corporate attire is all about being a wallflower- albeit a presentation-making, ass-kicking wallflower. You don’t upset the apple cart. And you wear sensibly drab clothing four days a week, cutting yourself the tiniest slack only on Friday.
Now that I’m not working, I’m stuck with a whole bunch of monochrome workwear that still has a lot of wearing to do. I feel silly walking into a coffeeshop wearing my work trousers and collared shirt, so I’m looking to adapt these to my new relaxed lifestyle. (See Fig 1.3, mum and I on vacation, in grey wool trousers worn with a black stretch printed top, powder-blue sweater and worn tan brogues. At work, I’d have chucked the top for a pressed shirt or blouse and/or thrown a blazer or snug black sweater on. Unnees Bees, I hear you say. But there’s a world of difference. Ask the wearer, the wearer knows! Also, Fig 1.4, where I use my favourite work sweater, a black hand-knit, to channel my cool grandmuzzer. I mean- look at me. You can barely tell the difference between us. We’re literally one of those frustrating Spot The Difference puzzles you see in airport mags. So hard!)
So I found Jay Miranda’s gorgeous pictures online, and I’m sold! She writes at http://www.jaymiranda.com, and I love that she wears her classics with such spunk and elegance, always throwing in a tiny but impactful twist. My favourite pictures of her (below) are easily replicable with the basic building blocks of any wardrobe- a slouchy grey sweater, any long skirt in a light colour, a white collared shirt, a black pencil skirt and a belt.
Inspiration sorted. I still feel awful about winter, but this makes things a little better. 🙂 Friendly wave, devis!