Being in a creative profession, I have come to understand that work wardrobe plays a big part in the way one is received professionally. My team and I tend to wear something more relaxed and casual to our office (actually anything can fly in this profession!), but when we go out to meetings, we make sure to wear closed-toe shoes, avoid skimpy outfits (without sounding disrespectful to anyone) and keep hair and nails tidy.
My daily grind involves meeting people from two different worlds. My own team might be dressed in no-frills and casual outfits, and then there’s the world of my buyers, mostly from West Asia, where they are in formal clothes. My outfit reflects that dichotomy. I’m a big follower of the adage ‘comfort is key’. So, while I mostly wear breathable clothes to work, I always have a black blazer and a pair of smart wedges in my car. Sometimes, I even slip into a formal pair of trousers if need be. What I have done is created sets in my wardrobe so that even after meeting my tailors and vendors, if I have to meet an important buyer or have to head to a movie screening with my husband, film producer-distributor Madhu Mantena, the look can be passed off as fancy.
I always carry some of my statement jewellery pieces in a box, which can lift the entire look. For example, I can dress up in a crisp white shirt and dark blue jeans with silver jewellery and heels.
Some of the wardrobe basics I swear by are: a cute floral dress that works great for a lunch meeting, a deconstructed back cutout dress, a tan pant-suit set (you can wear it with a white T-shirt, black T-shirt or even a printed T-shirt) and a wrap top with linen pants.
Over the years, I have mostly stuck to solid colours, especially white and black, because I work with a lot of patterns all the time. Apart from that, I believe solid colours make you look more reliable and trustworthy in front of clients.
Footwear plays a big part in my work wardrobe. I switch between nude wedges, closed flats and canvas shoes. But I tend to get slightly more artful if I’m heading to a Bollywood dinner after work. I will most definitely change my shoes and wear a bold lip colour.
Accessories can make things look interesting at night. A lot of women underestimate the power of accessories. The key is to invest in statement pieces instead of too many junk items. They don’t necessarily have to be expensive but should be cool pieces. This is something I have learnt from my mother. I buy my jewellery from Amrapali, Curio Cottage, Marni and Suhani Pittie. I like collecting charms and bracelets from my travels too. I will also wear a nice perfume. My current favourite is ‘By the Fireplace’ by Maison Martin Margiela. I’m partial to woody fragrances as one can wear them across seasons.
Some of the most stylish women professionals I admire are fashion designer Roohi Jaikishan, casting director Shanoo Sharma, founder and CEO of Nykaa.com, Falguni Nayar, and designer Haseena Jethmalani.
I also want to touch upon a very interesting aspect of workwear wardrobe: recycling of clothing items. This is something I have learnt from watching my mother. There were many instances of her cutting lehengas and saris to make cool tops and dresses during my growing years. Sometimes she would just mix and match the fabrics.
An incredibly cool thing is making an outfit your own. This can be achieved by adding a monogram, contrasting cuffs and collar piping or even a patchwork to your outfit.
Masaba Gupta is a fashion designer and founder and creative director of House of Masaba. This is the last column in the series.
As told to Sandipan Dalal.