People in the limelight cannot afford a sartorial faux pas. Probably this is why most Indian politicians play it safe. But there are a few, who, despite toeing the unwritten sartorial code, manage to stand out and breathe a sense of style into their outfits.
With the Lok Sabha elections underway, indianexpress.com reached out to a few fashion designers and stylists for their take on the most well-dressed Indian politician. From the choice of fabric to tailoring, these experts gave us some really interesting insights.
Designer Anuradha Prasad Dhawan from label ‘Anu PD’ picks Meghalaya’s Agatha Sangma, who is contesting from Tura constituency, as a person who carries off her traditional style with elan. “She seamlessly includes Meghalayan dresses and Garo apparel in her contemporary wardrobe.
She is also seen well-turned out in t-shirts, jeans and in formal shirt and trousers at work. She is a style icon for young India,” says Anuradha as she highlights how Sangma brings out the balance of #IndiaModern look.
Giving the example of her simple straight hairstyle, Dhawan says, “I love Agatha’s cerebral look with spectacles and her simple straight hairstyle. Teamed with the ethnic apparel, it portrays the new versatile woman of India. This also promotes in India a spirit of inclusiveness.”
However, the designer feels that Sangma should experiment with her spectacle frames.
Considered as one of the leading Indian designers, Rocky Star, who is known for combining rich Indian textiles and embroideries with modern silhouettes, picks Sachin Pilot, Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and a member of the Indian National Congress party.
According to the designer, Pilot has a personality that aligns with his fashion choices.
“He is always well put together, simple yet charismatic in his own way. The politically appropriate Nehru jacket sees a twist on Sachin. He likes to team his crisp white kurtas with a bandi instead, in buttoned down or open jacket styles. A well-tailored suit also sees its way occasionally on Sachin which I believe elevates his personality,” he says.
Applauding his minimalistic approach to fashion, the designer says, “Sachin lends elegance to an all-white attire. It is subtle yet powerful at the same time. He also knows how to style a gilet well.”
Designer Vandy Mehra, director of occasion wear brand Study by Janak thinks Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a style icon in his own right. “He is usually dressed in a sharp yet conservative manner. The choice of garments shuttle between bandhgalas, monogrammed suits, and his signature half-sleeve kurta-pyjamas. The waistcoat sets, as I see it, is reserved for foreign trips, Lok Sabha meetings and public addresses. He adds a stylish zing, with his Bvlgari frames and Mont Blanc pens,” says Mehra who is known for her pret designs.
Mehra is quick to point out how Modi embraces the colour saffron to highlight his political ideology. “He almost always includes the colour saffron in his attire, sometimes via his scarf or his pagdi or a pocket square,” she says.
Is there something he could refine? “I think the use of saafas can be more stylish.”
Meanwhile, Shruti Sancheti points out how PM Modi dresses according to the season and occasion. While he wore a khaki anorak when celebrating Diwali with Army jawans on the border, he chose a batik shawl when visiting Shantiniketan as a tribute to Gurudev.
“When he is practising yoga, he wears track pants but accompanied by the gamcha. His preference for natural fibre like khadi and a tone-on-tone neutral palette looks fabulous and even on an international platform, his bandhgala look remains flawless,” she says.
Referring to the 2014 election campaign where he embraced every region’s traditional elements, Sancheti says, “The khadi bundi and the iconic Nehru jacket (now called Modi jacket) are two staples in every Indian man’s wardrobe inspired by the PM. There is something very stylish yet efficient about the short-sleeved kurta because it is perfect for our sultry weather and the ultimate replacement of the western shirt.”
In favour of Aam Aadmi Party’s Raghav Chadha’s “well-coordinated khadi and cotton wear with kolhapuri chappals” is designer Pawan Sachdeva. He says that Chadha’s subtle style brings out his classy, educated and stylish side.
Talking about his television appearances, Sachdeva says, “He makes the white and black combination look more presentable.” However, he is quick to point out that the national spokesperson of AAP who is also a chartered accountant by profession could work on his hairstyle.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Diya Kumari, and Dimple Yadav
For stylist Namita Alexander, her vote is a tie between three women. “When it comes to stylish personas in Indian politics, people largely speak about the male politicians like Shashi Tharoor, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Omar Abdullah. Now with more women in the political fray, their sartorial choices are just an extension of their political personas,” says Alexander.
She believes Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Cabinet minister for Food Processing and a member of Shiromani Akali Dal, Princess Diya Kumari, a member of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly representing Bharatiya Janata Party, and Dimple Yadav from the Samajwadi Party and Kannauj MP, have a great sense of style.
“All these women are beautiful, strong and hold titles of their own despite their political families. While Badal is often seen in co-ordinated salwar suits with her head covered in a bright dupatta, Kumari in quintessential princess style wears chiffon saris and looks elegant and regal. Yadav is not just a pretty face who wears tikkas and khadi saris effortlessly,” says Alexander.
However, Alexander wishes they pay more attention to accessories. “I understand they are helping run the country, so it’s not so much about national importance. But they are often seen getting out of Parliament with papers in hand. This would look great in a chic briefcase instead. They could also make a style statement with sunglasses because the job requires them to be on the road talking to people,” she adds.