With the year finally nearing its end, we can sit back and think about the pandemonium that was 2020. While the pandemic is still on, all the initial chaos and flurry has settled. Now things have become a little more rhythmic. And in this rhythm, some people have found a way to express themselves and carry on with their lives.
This year, almost everyone made adjustments. Schools, colleges and educational institutions shifted online. Offices prescribed a work-from-home module. And then the unthinkable happened — most Indian festivals assumed a sombre form, as opposed to the otherwise-lavish nature of festivities.
As such, what happened to the country’s millennials, for whom fashion was an artistic expression and a representation of their personalities? What has happened to their wardrobe? Is it in a state of limbo, waiting patiently to be touched again, or has there been some kind of a pandemic upgrade? More importantly, how are people staying committed to their personal sense of fashion even in such times?
Indianexpress.com reached out to four women in their 20s, for whom dressing up and looking good is not just occasional, but an important part of their being. Here’s what they said about keeping up with pandemic fashion.
Kashika Bindrani, 23, wedding and personal stylist
For Kashika, fashion simply means expression of mood and creativity. She loves repurposing and experimenting with clothes, and dressing up gives her more joy than anything else in the world. “What I love about fashion is that it is ever-evolving, and there is always something new to experiment with. Even during the pandemic, we saw many home-grown brands come up; fashion continues, trends change.”
Kashika says that while she is always following trends and keeps herself updated, this year she has turned to more “conscious and sustainable ways of looking fashionable”. “My wardrobe has definitely gone from fancy to more comfortable. This year has been fun as I’ve had the chance to experiment with more comfortable clothing, athleisure, nightwear and loungewear. The thing about lockdown is, you have the freedom to experiment with your clothes, and I’ve been loving the pajama trend lately — it’s fun to style your pajamas and make them look appropriate for work, dinners, and basically anything!” she says.
On dressing up, she says: “We’re all going through desperate times and dressing up is something that can — even if for a while — give us the illusion of a normal life. On days I stay in my pajamas, I wouldn’t even feel like working; but to be at home and still be motivated to work, getting dressed up is a great hack. I still dress up and don’t think will ever stop.”
While the festivities this year were muted, Kashika says she did not get a chance to dress up as much as she would have liked. But for Diwali, she dressed up in “comfortable ethnic clothes”. “You don’t have to shop for a lot of fancy clothes; there are a million ways in which you can style comfortably and look presentable. Just think beyond the mundane.
“Ditch your fancy clothes if you’re not into dressing up for work-from-home or virtual parties, and instead, make the best of your loungewear. Similarly for accessories, don’t wear heavy statement pieces. Cute printed scrunchies, headbands, dainty layered necklaces are the kind of accessories you can play with at home. Also, I would suggest trying out androgynous clothing. The fashion world is accepting androgynous and gender-neutral clothing and it’s not only super-comfortable but also great for staying at home,” she suggests.
Riya Taneja, 23, Indian Sign Language interpreter
For Delhi-based Riya, too, fashion is mood-dependent. Sometimes she is “super confident” in a tube leather jumpsuit, and sometimes hoodie is all she needs. “I like to experiment with clothes that I already have: the beautiful dupattas that my mom has preserved all these years are the assets I own. With everything going haywire in 2020, I think it was the festive season that brought the positive vibes!
“Fashion game is still as strong as ever, we just have shifted from the fancies to the pajamas! I feel co-ord sets are the way to go if you don’t want to put in much effort,” she says.
Riya continues to wear “pretty dresses” to sit in her “favourite corner of the house” with “scented candles, music and coffee” for company. “I find a lot of influencers relatable,” she says. “For instance @thechiquefactor has upped her dupatta styling and I’m in love. All you have to do is wear your black crop top with black pants or a long skirt and style it up with a dupatta. Your dupatta can be on one side, tucked with a classic belt on your waist! Experimental? Check. Fusion? Check. Festive? Check.
“All I can say is, sometimes just wearing nice clothes — whatever you’re most confident in — and ‘feeling pretty’ does the job!”
Janhvi Mehta, 22, student
Noida-based Janhvi’s wardrobe has changed this year. While 30 per cent of her wardrobe is “derived from what [she sees] in magazines and on social media”, this year, it has turned “slightly classic”.
“Seeing the pandemic, I realised investing in slow fashion is much more reasonable. I did try to keep up with trends by gaming up my loungewear; skinny jeans have been replaced by joggers and flared pants. Also, I dressed up for festivities and even small gatherings, because after all this time being spent in lockdown, even small occasions make me excited,” she tells indianexpress.com.
This festive season, Janhvi had “ample time” to “decide looks for every occasion”. “I tried to be sustainable this time, and instead of buying an Indian wear — which I knew I wouldn’t wear a second time — I decided to opt for sarees and kurta from my mum’s wardrobe. And with a little styling here and there, I was all set!”
She says she would advise people this year to “not be keen on fast fashion”. “A few good pieces in your wardrobe and the right styling is all you need to look stylish and Instagram-ready. Keep your outfit basic; some dainty jewellery will make you look trendy,” she suggests.
Srishti Arora, 23, celebrity stylist
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Quoting Yves Saint Laurent, Srishti says: “Fashion fades, style is eternal”.
“If you know what suits your body type and wear something which makes you feel stylish and confident, it really doesn’t have to be in line with what people around you are wearing,” she begins.
But how many changes has she brought about in her closet in the last few months?
“I shopped online in the starting months, but that craze stopped after a while. For the festive season, I styled myself in an outfit from my mother’s closet, added some jewels and everyone absolutely loved it! I think raiding your parents’ closet and finding pieces you can style differently, is always amazing.”
Srishti says that considering the monotony of life, people are grabbing every chance they can to dress up. “I definitely am one of those. In fact, I started styling clothes and shooting at home. A lot of stylists started shooting fashion videos from the comfort of their homes. This gives them the motivation to get up and feel better.”
Srishti suggests that on days when someone feels energetic, they can “mix pieces from their wardrobe and wear them”, for which they can take inspiration from Instagram videos. “Don’t be afraid of prints or statement jewellery,” she says. “Get to know how to up-style clothes and how to add fun elements in a minimalistic outfit. Use this time in the pandemic to know what you have and how you want to use it. And if there are things you know you won’t wear, just declutter your cupboard!”
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