The Essence of Style

For many women, choosing the right dress involves a lot of considerations. Here are some of them

The essence of styleAfter two decades in the fashion industry and a couple of years in bespoke clothing, I am totally in awe of the woman psyche. The way women perceive their bodies, and the amount of consideration that goes into putting together an ensemble, is intriguing. I am a woman too, but when the passion and intensity of the same thought process running across the species stares you in the face, you sit up and take notice. How to constantly better ourselves in our own eyes is perhaps the primary concern of today’s contemporary woman. We all set standards, and ensure that we are happy with what we do and how we live. And looking the best at all times is right on top of the agenda.

We are not Einstein!

I find one anecdote quite amusing. Einstein once told his wife – who wanted him to change into better clothes to meet the German ambassador – “If they want to see me, here I am. If they want to see my clothes open my closet and show them my suits”.

Most of us are definitely not Einstein! We are women, and we feel good about dressing up. It is an art to look well-turned-out and some effort is required here.

Projecting a look is a sensory driven thing. Our eyes, nose and ears constantly perceive the visual appearance, body language, speaking capabilities and the whole ambience we carry with ourselves. We need to focus on how to look more crisp, what colours to opt for, how to figure out which is the most suitable silhouette, and how to accessorise the ensemble. All of us have our own favourite colour and the silhouette we prefer. Some of us are better judges as to what to pick up while shopping. But the minute details are the ones that make or break the impression we create. What we wear and how we choose what we wear is based on a whole lot of factors.


From a distance, the most dominant visual element to get noticed is the silhouette or the outline of the total “you”. Shape of the body is defined by the silhouette. This silhouette can be modified by adding fabric, padding the garment or corseting the waist/bust to attain a special effect or emphasis. Remember to leave appropriate air space between the body and the garment worn. A closer fit requires less air space between the body and the clothing and vice versa.


On a closer front, proportion between the various parts of the ensemble is an important point; and the most common one to be overlooked. In simpler terms, the visual weight of the garment should have a balance. The ratio of the sleeves to the total outfit, the depth of the neckline, the top garment versus the bottom garment, the size of the buttons, pocket placement… all holds enough significance to create the correct “look”.

Colour, texture, design

While selecting an outfit, one must think about the colour, texture and design element. Tonal colours tend to visually elongate the body while dark colours tend to reduce the width. Cool colours ooze out soft calm whereas warm colours add to the glow of your skin tone. Fresh colours around the face brighten the same.

Texture of a fabric defines the feel and fall of the clothing item. Patterns on the surface like prints and stripes can be used to awesome advantages. Prints liven up the ensemble. However selection of prints is an area to be careful. Larger frames in a large print will leave the viewer counting the patterns needed to span the girth. Emphasis on an item of clothing that diverts attention away from the problem areas shows the amount of thought and hard work that has gone into the selection of clothing.

The key to successful dressing also lies in the instant transformation from work wear to evening wear. Dressy accessories add value to the ensemble. A smart hand bag, trendy scarf, chic shirt under the work jacket and a smart pair of stilettos work amazingly to transform the work attire into a slightly sensuous evening one. It makes sense to add a bit of zing to the regular face paint to uplift the glamour quotient.

Givenchy once commented, “The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.”

I have noticed that women tend to be very picky about minute body flaws. It could be fleshy arms or wider hips or something as understated as broad shoulders. However, these details can be successfully camouflaged and a package that comes forth is what the world views.

World looks at the package, that is you.

Style Essentials

  • Being fit and well-groomed at all times.
  • A fine blend of well-tailored traditional and contemporary outfits in the wardrobe.
  • A pair of well defined denims and at least 3-4 white shirts ready for emergencies.
  • A super chic work jacket.
  • Classic stoles and scarves to throw around for effect.
  • Work footwear and a hold-all tote.
  • A pair of dressy stilettos to combine with an evening, hand-held clutch.
  • Appropriate lingerie is a must. Although often deemed as the non-important bit, lingerie defines the body contour and posture.
  • Correct make-up and the correct amount of make-up. Subtle for day wear and dramatic for the evenings.
  • Experimentation with seasonal colours. A new colour may enhance you totally and work great.

Style is acceptance. To remain trendy one need not blindly follow fashion trends. Love your body and develop your own style.

Anjali Sharma
Anjali Sharma is a NIFT [National Institute of Fashion Technology] alumni of the 1991 batch. Haviing taught at the NIFT for over 10 years, she now runs her label FRENCH CURVE out of Bangalore.


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