Monsoon mini-guide: Must-haves and must-gags

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The rain gods have arrived, and they’re showering their love on us. It’s time to show some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to them and to ourselves, overhauling our wardrobes for the next coupla months.

Here’s a handy tip: Come monsoon, and what you wear is not a question of trends, but of comfort and practicality with a chic factor. After all, no one wants to wade through knee-high water in six-inch stilettos.

So here’s our guide to monsoon wear must-haves and must-gags, with some super chic options marked with an *:

Clothes

Must-haves

  • Capris, foldable jeans for omniscient shallow puddles
  • Comfy blouses and shirts that don’t cling to you
  • Kurtas and churidars in georgettes (minus the dupatta)

Must-gags

  • Extra-long trousers
  • Transparent and translucent tops
  • Loose-flowing skirts (remember the strong winds?)

Don’t forget

  • To carry your windcheater. Umbrellas are useless in gusts of wind.
  • To bring out your boleros  and shrugs. They’re perfect for the now-hot-now-cold weather*
Shoes

Must-haves

Gum boots(if you can!) or non-slippery ballet shoes

Crocs* (not the ones with the holes, but the comfy chic styles; they’re a tad expensive, but worth every paisa)

Crocs for monsoon 

Must-gags

  • High heels
  • Your brand-new or old Jimmy Choos, Manolos etc

Don’t forget

  • You can always do what the New Yorkers do—change into your heels/ formal leather shoes in office*
Hair, Makeup and Accessories

Must-haves

  • Hair clips and pins to keep your hair in place*
  • Moisturiser

Must-gags

  • Layers of makeup
  • Too many hair products

Don’t forget

  • To use a good anti-frizz serum after washing your hair. It works wonders!*
  • To carry a comb with you, to smoothen our messy hair. Wet hair rarely looks good in real life.

What do you think of this mini-guide? Share your suggestions and tips in the comments box, or write to us at speakingchic [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Myths about bitches

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Love or hate Shashi Tharoor, he is not one to mince words. In the midst of the recent controversy, Mr Tharoor became the unexpected champion of Indian women professionals. Here’s what he said (emphasis mine):

“Our media cannot accept an attractive woman as a serious business professional.”

Woah, harsh words, though they do ring true in India and all over the world. In the US, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s been called a b****, as are successful and supposedly aggressive women around the world.

Now that Su-Shi (cutely dubbed so by Shobhaa De) have got the ball rolling, we’re taking this a step or two forward, and bursting myths about us women professionals in India and around the world.

Bitch on Board

Myth: We are b****es

Fact: No, we’re not. We like being good (except for a few handful who spoil our name), but come along and spoil our happy party with your superiority airs, and we gotta play the b**** card.

Myth:  We’ll do anything to climb the corporate ladder.

Fact: Hell, no! We have our value system, and we like to stick to it.

Myth: We don’t care about our family and friends.

Fact: That’s so not true! Our family and friends are our support system, and we love them, enjoy spending quality time with them, and just talking. Notice the crazy hours we spend chatting on the phone with our friends? That’s coz we love them!

Myth: Since we work together and we’re friendly, it’s okay to flirt with us.

Fact: Oh puhleeze. It’s not okay! Office sleazeballs  can GTH.

Myth: We gossip about our female colleagues.

Fact: Yep sure, but not as much as the men do! (Admit it, men love to gossip!)

Myth: We don’t deserve praise/ appreciation for our work.

Fact: Why not? If we did it, we’re going to take credit for it.

Myth: We are not serious about our work/ we work for fun and pocket money.

Fact: Any idea what a kilo of tomatoes costs these days? Mangoes? Rice? And BTW, even if we do work for fun, what is anyone else’s problem?

 

Any more myths to burst, ladies? Would love to know!

PS- Please share this with every guy in your office. Or at least some male friends.

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Chic News: Good Times are here!

My late night TV viewing is usually limited to the 5764th rerun of Friends, unless an episode of I’m too Sexy for my Shoes is playing on NDTV Good Times. The designer challenges, the latest style and fashion recommendations and fashion explorations are too much fun to watch. And the charismatic and leggy Ambika Anand is the perfect host, teamed up with the stylish Mohan Neelakantan.

Turns out that the new season of the show kicks off February 12 and with it a series of on-ground events that complement the channel’s brand. The first event, themed “Sexy Shoes”, is a grand party to be held in Delhi. Other than the great food and dance and other standard fare, the party’s style quotient will get a fashionable boost with Salvatore Ferragamo, Just Cavalli, and Canali showcasing their Spring Summer 2010 look.

For all fans of the channel (including me), this new initiative seems to be a great way to enjoy our passion for food, fashion, gadgets and luxury. When, where and how of the events have not been revealed yet, but my ears are close to the ground already.

Now if only we could get an invite to the Sexy Shoes party!

UPDATE: Turns out I can get an invite after all, so can you! Participate in the Sexy Shoes contest and you could win an invite for the party!

Transformed: Vintage to Ultramodern!

I still remember the moment I first spotted it. It was late evening and I was in my PJs, rummaging through mom’s cupboard. The beige fabric had perhaps lost some its shimmer, but a good dry clean could restore some of its erstwhile glory. I dug deep for more information on this six-yard fabric, a sari I didn’t remember seeing earlier. The sari was her wedding gift from an American family friend, Mom explained. Unfortunately, she had no idea who the designer was.

Vintage sari

My surprised reaction was, “I didn’t know you had such a lovely sari!” The netted fabric had flowers woven into it, giving it the appearance of lace. Best of all—it was vintage!

Vintage definition It was to be my first family appearance in a sari (a cousin’s wedding reception) and I wanted it to be memorable (for them and for me). Now that I had discovered the perfect sari, I had to face a formidable challenge. Being a vintage garment, my look had to preserve the essence of the sari, but I didn’t want to look an auntie either. I concluded that I needed to drape the sari the traditional way, wear classic jewellery, while creating a look that stated modern, elegant and “quarter-life-crisis-has-just-struck-me” simultaneously.

Blouse hunt

It’s only in the past few seasons that the sari blouse suddenly rose to prominence on and off the ramp. The plain, self-colour blouse was boring; variety in colours, fabrics and embroidery were à la mode. Blouse-hunting turned out to be harrowing process, going from store to store, looking for the right match, comparing materials. The brocades were in the wrong colour, the velvets were too plain. We emerged from a trifle disappointed from all the stores we visited.

At the last store on the list, I pulled out a swathe of orange, sequins-laden georgette. I held it up against the sari, took it out in the sun, and voila! The rows of the little gold embellishments did not just spice up the sari, but also made it super stylish, with a dash of colour and bling.

Vintage is forever, so are diamonds

It was the ultimate fashion conundrum— what do you pair with a vintage outfit? How do you give it your personal signature while paying tribute to the original creator who laboured over it decades ago?

For starters, the accessories had to be timeless. And there’s nothing more timeless than diamonds. I opted for a dangling pair that ensured I looked my age, and teamed it with a simple ring and matching gold-and-diamond cuff.

Plum it up

It was an image of Dita von Teese on a beauty portal that inspired my makeup. Her bright red lips were too hot to handle for me, but I stole her idea of drawing attention to my lips. I followed the natural-looking layer of foundation with muted lilac eyeshadow and pink blush from MAC, but jazzed up the lips much as I could with an intense purple Lancôme lipstick that would stay through the event.

I already had a great haircut, so I just blow dried it the right way—a sideswept fringe across the forehead that had people asking for my stylist’s number!

Hey there, gorgeous!

The compliments that evening ranged from “So who did your makeup?” to “You’re looking sexy!” to “That’s a lovely sari! Which designer?”

But that all didn’t matter. The best compliment came from the original owner of the sari, my mom, who said, “The sari is perfect for you. It’s yours now!”

Wearing an invaluable vintage garment albeit with a contemporary touch is a sartorial experience I’d advise all young women to try. Why? Because it made me feel good, it made me appreciate the real artisans, and because it was one of my biggest style moments. I left the reception as radiant as the bride.

This post is the official entry to Star World Betty of Elle Contest- http://www.starworld.in. Being an ardent fashion follower and blogger (feel free to explore the Speaking Chic blog and the Twitter feed) as well as a word lover, getting a chance to work at Elle would fuel my passion for fashion, style and writing. Elle India’s approach of balancing high-end fashion and spot-on trends with engrossing features and cutting-edge photo shoots is the perfect launchpad for a career in fashion writing and blogging. I hope to make this kind of writing be taken seriously in India, and developing an online Indian fashion destination. With the great insights into the fashion and publishing industry that I get from the internship, I would improve my fashion knowledge and eye for fashion, style, aesthetics and trends. I’d learn about the fashion business, how to identify trends and ideate, the ropes of styling, magazine design and photography, and even what it takes to produce a 200+ page magazine month after month with great content. At the end of the two months, I would be in a better position to combine my journalism and content development background with fashion to develop a distinctive writing style that would make me a better fashion blogger and writer (I aspire to be India’s answer to Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes :-)). Above all, the internship will be the experience of a lifetime, and I will emerge enriched in every way possible.