I would describe my personal style as simple and classic. I don’t subscribe to fashion trends but I attach a lot of importance to personal style.

I don’t know whether you could say I’ve been influenced by my father Vinod Khanna. My parents split up when we were very young so I only have a very vague memory of my dad’s wardrobe before he left. In the 1970s, actors often used items from their personal wardrobe as costumes in their films, so he had a lot of stuff that other friends’ fathers’ didn’t—crazy accessories and jewellery, wild belt buckles, high-fashion sunglasses and very unconventional shirts and pants. Even when I was older and in college, I couldn’t really wear items that belonged to him because I was very skinny, while my father was broad and well built. But I remember, during the time when oversized clothes were in style, a couple of times I think I did go over to his house and borrow a jacket or a shirt.

When I landed my first job at MTV, I was living in New York and had to work with professional stylists Beth Bernstein and the late Tonjua Twist. They were true artists and really knew their craft. Twist was also working with Mariah Carey at the time. They gently introduced me to a lot of great ideas and designers and helped me refine my own personal style. Up until then, I would live in a uniform of plaid or striped shirts, baggy jeans and my trusty pair of Doc Martin shoes!

If you ask me to pick my corporate style icon, I’d say Ratan Tata. His clean, classy, presidential style also extends beyond his wardrobe into other aspects of his life.

As with everything to do with personal style, you must defer to what resonates with your personality and brings you joy. If a bow tie makes you feel good, then you’ll automatically end up looking good! Of course, you’ll make some fashion faux pas along the way. I once owned a “pleather" (imitation leather made from polyurethane) Dolce&Gabbana button-down shirt. I thought it was pretty cool until I had an incident like Ross and his leather pants from Friends. I got a bit sweaty and it virtually fused to my torso and was incredibly uncomfortable to peel off!

I don’t believe in strict “rules" when it comes to personal style and I believe everyone should dress in whatever way brings them joy and is true to their personality—but I do have a list of versatile staples that I feel every man’s wardrobe would benefit from, that can serve you well at work as well as after-hours. Here’s my list:

1. A dark blazer

2. A couple of crisp, white button-down shirts (white cotton tends to discolour easily so you can never have enough of these)

3. A pair of well-fitted jeans

4. Formal lace-up shoes

5. A dark suit (my favourite is navy because it’s appropriate for day as well as night wear)

6. A simple, classic ‘bandhgala’ jacket for traditional occasions

It’s also nice to have one-of-a-kind pieces to accessorize your look. Perhaps a vintage briefcase from an antique shop, or a pair of cufflinks with sentimental value, or a wristwatch that belonged to a grandparent. A pocket square can also add a nice touch to an otherwise staid office look without looking unprofessional.

Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Three secrets to dressing up

• Make sure everything fits (nurture a relationship with a good tailor)

• Make sure your clothes are freshly cleaned and your shoes polished

• Make sure everything is crisply ironed or steamed (I’m hopeless with an iron and have a portable steamer to use when I don’t have help).

In Work Wise, actor Rahul Khanna talks about how to best lead life at work and outside it.

As told to Sandipan Dalal.

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