Eco Chic: Go beyond Earth Hour fashionably

It’s almost time for Earth Hour! On March 26, millions of people across the world will switch off their lights for an hour at 8.30 pm to spread the message of a low-carbon lifestyle.

Earth Hour logo Earth Hour can be a great sign of solidarity, but it’s not enough—we need to go beyond the hour, and not just save electricity, but also look at ways of living a more eco friendly life. Here are our tips for going beyond earth hour—the fashionable way.

Tip 1: Shop local.

That’s easier said than done, of course. And we all want the Made in China/ Turkey/ Morocco Zara tops and Mango dresses. Even the Made in India labelled garments at international brand stores will probably have travelled around the world and come back. But we can look for chic alternatives that are locally-made and don’t have such a long travel tale to tell. Why just clothes? You can buy Indian skin care products as well.

Tip 2: Wear eco chic.

If Colin Firth and his wife Livia Firth can wear eco-friendly red carpet outfits, why can’t we? If we look hard enough, there are eco chic clothes out there. Lots of designers are using organic materials that support local communities, so there’s a smaller carbon footprint as well. Try Ela’s dresses (available at Bombay Electric (Mumbai), Verandah (Bangalore) and Anonym (Hyderabad)).

Tip 3: Shop sensibly.

Think twice, how many yellow blouses do you really, really need? Each garment you buy later becomes wastage or throwaway once the season or trend is over. So don’t go wild at the mall; instead, think carefully before buying  and invest in some seasonless classics (like LBDs). This will also save you a bunch of money and wardrobe space.

Tip 4: Recycle.

Some beauty brands love recycling, like The Body Shop and MAC. You can give back used bottles, containers, tubes and jars to them for recycling, and maybe get some freebies in return. What could be better than that?

Tip 5: Shop at one go.

Make a list of things you want to buy and keep aside enough time to finish all your shopping in one visit. Avoid making several trips to the mall, shopping centre or street market, you’ll pollute less!

Stay chic!

7 reasons why I don’t like Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day and women all over are buzzing with delight. But much as I appreciate women and what they have accomplished, I don’t like  Women’s Day. Here’s why:

  • There will be some cursory media coverage of how women have made great strides in almost every field and how they are strong and powerful. A starlet will be quoted on how great her mom made her who she is. Yeah, right!
  • Women may be gifted and greeted on this—but they will continue to be suppressed and oppressed by their own families. Want to study abroad? We’re saving up for your wedding/ brother’s education. Hungry?– Your father and brother must eat first. Want to play sports? –Girls don’t do that. Oh, so-and-so had a baby girl? How sad!
  • And don’t even get me started on the crimes against women. Women will continue to be persecuted, raped, groped, eve-teased and violated in the worst ways possible. According to a just-released report, nearly one in four Indian men has committed sexual violence at some point in their lives. What kind of society do we live in?
  • Women (and men) are bombarded with marketing messages: Do a chocolate massage, get 15% off; buy 2 amazingly-atrocious shirts, get 1 free… Stuff like that. Yeah, we love shopping, and we love clothes, makeup, accessories, spa treatments. But we’re not just about spending money.
  • So we’re also about multi-tasking and multiple roles. As a friend on Facebook just posted: “So many roles—daughter, wife, friend, sister, aunt, grandma!” True… but even men are sons, husbands, friends, brothers, uncles and grandpas. 🙂
  • Let’s face it—not all women are the epitome of grace, perfection, elegance, charm and dignity. A hop into the Virar fast on a weekday evening will shatter any such myth. If women have been through all sorts of struggle, so have men. (I’m all for equality—not necessarily one better than the other).
  • About the issues of economic and social equality, we’re still far away from such a day. It’s just another utopian idea.

The day we don’t need to acknowledge or “celebrate” women—that will be the real International Women’s Day.

Anyways, Happy Women’s Day to all Speaking Chic readers.

Obama’s handkerchief and my blue nailpolish

When US President Barack Obama visits India next month, he will skip a visit to Amritsar’s Golden Temple, “on the thorny question of how Mr Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple”. Mr Obama cannot cover his head with a handkerchief.

Who would have thought that a piece of cloth could be the cause of a (potential) furore? Rather like the blue nail polish I applied the other day. I did expect some extreme reactions, some even insulting, but none like this one: “Eeeeks, that’s the ugliest nail colour ever!”

A ‘kerchief and a nail paint—the similarity begins here. That blue nailpolish was part of my identity, it conveyed a message about me: not just about what colours I liked, but also about what I wanted to be: fun, daring, cool, young(er)…

With every piece of clothing, with every accessory, with every subtle aspect of our appearance, we reveal our identity, a bit of who we are. A sari, a mini skirt, pink hair, a mangalsutra, an amulet, a cross, a headscarf. We usually wear our identities on our sleeve, and we hesitate to wear some of them.

I wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing a kurta in a nightclub, or jeans to a traditional wedding. And Mr Obama wouldn’t want to be seen with a cloth on his head. He doesn’t want to be perceived as someone he’s not. It would damage his standing, his reputation, stir yet another controversy about his religious beliefs. He’s human, but not all-powerful; he’s powerful, he’s weak.

So while putting a ‘kerchief on your head should mean just following a harmless tradition (or an institutional rule), to a misinformed and misled public, it would mean something they intensely dislike and mistrust. And so he makes the decision to skip the temple, so no question of following any rule, avoiding any kind of speculation—in a moment of weakness.

What you wear speaks about who you are. Mr Obama covering his head out of respect for the rules of the Golden Temple would convey: “I don’t care what misinformed Americans think about me.”

Are you brave enough to wear and DO what you want? What are you wearing today? I’m getting myself a manicure, and re-applying the blue nail paint.

Shocking Chic: Oil spills into fashion

[tweetmeme source=”spkngchic” only_single=false]

For the fashion world, the word shocking is usually reserved for an anorexic model or heavily photoshopped images. But Vogue Italia recently gave shocking a new meaning when it published a fashion photospread inspired by the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s the cover: 


What you see inside are some stark images, some close to being very disturbing. The photos (shot by Steven Meisel) project a poisonous atmosphere, and in one picture, model Kristen McMenamy is seen regurgitating contaminated water. Not for the faint-hearted.


Speaking Chic tracked down a friend in the US who feels passionately about the oil spill and its cover-up. “The images are truly haunting,” she said over email. “But it’s a good thing, because this is going to put the oil spill on a world stage for everyone to see. Some of the pictures make you feel the anger that most of us environment-lovers felt in the aftermath of the spill.”

We also also asked Mumbai-based photography buff Pradnya for her reactions. “Most of the pictures are in low key which well describe the mood. Unfortunately, the repetitive long shots sometimes lose focus. Yet, some of the photos do justice to the seriousness of the issue. The close-up picture of the model is a great capture, with a nice blend of fear and shock. I think some of the pictures hit hard, but all of them capture the essence of the disaster.”


For those who still want to know about the fashion in the shoot, check out the Vogue Italia site or watch this behind-the-scenes video.

Speaking Chic says: The next time someone says “fashion is frivolous”, please show them this photo feature. While these photographs will not reverse the damage caused, they make a poignant statement on the environmental and human impact of the spill. By showing a human in such a toxic setting, the magazine has brought to the fore what several upper-class people (Vogue readers) may have brushed under the carpet. We wonder what Tony Hayward would have to say about this one.

What do you think of Vogue Italia’s BP oil spill-inspired photo shoot? Tell us!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Myths about bitches

[tweetmeme source=”spkngchic” only_single=false]

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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

The Bronze and the Beautiful

[tweetmeme source=”spkngchic” only_single=false]

“Eeeeeks! How can you come to that big party next week with such a horrible tan?”

That was someone’s reaction when she met me  just after my week-long super awesome Rajasthan trip. And then, the tips started pouring out— besan, malai, turmeric and even tomatoes made it to the “Quick Ways to Get Fairer” list.

It turns out we’re a nation still obsessed with fairness.  And it’s not just with the fairness creams for both women and men (think John Abraham and Shahid Kapoor). It’s in the attitude.

Like when I took up swimming as a regular well-balanced exercise, I got replies like, “Woah! What about the awful tan?” and “My mom will kill me if I get any darker.”

Yep, swimming often does darken your skin, and despite the copious amount of sunblock I applied, the tan came. But guess what? I love it and I grab every opportunity to show it off.

So when I saw the April cover of Vogue India, hailing the country’s dusky women, I couldn’t but stop and think—this is just what we need. Some of the photos are gorgeous and they show India’s lovely “dark” skin like never before. It may be just another cover shoot for the magazine, though there’s obviously some thought gone into it.  Could this be the step that can change the perception of Indians and the fashion industry? I certainly hope so.

Meanwhile, check out what Vogue stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania and the models have to say about the idea of a bronzed-beauties shoot:


PS—I’m not the only one who’s loving it. Check out Vogue UK’s coverage of the path-breaking(?) cover and the Feminista’s perspective on the cover and the colour issue.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine