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Karishma Gulyani

Karishma is an engineer turned fashion stylist and writer who loves talking about trends as much as eating desserts. Gucci, Ranveer Singh, salted caramel ice-cream and red lipsticks make up four chambers of her heart. Like Karishma's story? Drop her a line in the comments section below.

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Unravelling The Anatomy of An Outfit

What really makes an outfit an outfit?

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Isn’t every one of us guilty of using #OOTD on Instagram? Or what about commenting ‘love that outfit’ on Instagram? Well, if it’s a yes, then you are welcome to join us in this conundrum of outfits. While #OOTD and #OOTN are certainly amongst the most popular hashtags on Instagram, what is it about a particular outfit that makes it attractive? Is it the balance of comfort and style or a striking colour palette? Or just the charm of a wardrobe classic? Let’s find out.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley & Lisa Folawiyo, Image Courtesy: @rosie/@lisafolawiyo/Instagram

Well, Cambridge English Dictionary defines outfit as just a set of clothes worn together, especially for a particular activity. But there are lots of thoughts that go into making of an outfit. And in my opinion, an outfit can be bifurcated into two categories where one side is high on comfort and function. And the other is more style-focused with a dash of impracticality and probably is confined to living rooms, social media, glossy pages of a magazine or just about any other fantasy-appropriate space. But then there are bloggers and/or the style-conscious pack that have adapted such flamboyance into their way of living. So, in that sense, most of the outfits we put together still tend to span across the two categories, while leaning more towards one or the other depending upon career, personality, or occasion.

Milla Kuoksa, Image Courtesy: @millakuoksa/Instagram

So, while our circumstances influence our outfits, their attractiveness are defined by colour balance, trends, accessories and most importantly, form and function. And Priyanka Prasad, Co-Founder of High Heel Confidential & Curiouser, agrees with us by further adding, “there’s no better way to make an outfit your own than accessorizing or styling it in a way no one else thought of before.” Like the easy, effortless outfits of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley that are at times accessorized with the much-loved New Bottega maxi clutch or the beautifully colour-blocked outfits of Lisa Folawiyo with fascinating play of prints and layers. And between these outfit extremes, you’ll find Milla Kuoksa who strikes a perfect balance between wardrobe classics and current trends. Imagine pairing up a green-hued classic trench with sunshine yellow biker shorts and finishing it with kitten heel and golden hoops – such a delightful combination. On the contrary, would you wear it outside say for work, socializing or well, just because you like it? It’s a maybe for us, but that doesn’t take away the allure of the outfit . And as Malini Banerji, Fashion Director of ELLE India adds, “It’s not so much about what makes or breaks an outfit rather what one seeks from it.”

Sanjana Rishi & Dolly Singh, Image Courtesy: @sanjrishi/@spill_the_sass/Instagram

And that brings us to another intriguing set of outfits that are a result of blurring boundaries between personal and public in this digital age. While the boudoir trend clearly tops this set, it’s also dominated by sheer and innerwear as outwear trends. This style-focused set of outfits with unabashed colour play and eccentric layering are at times contradicted by many of the still persistent social norms, while gaining all our attention. This might bring us to conclude that while outfits are essentially what we wear for public consumption (including social media); they still need to be inventive and individualistic. Just like how Priyanka puts it, “Ultimately what makes an outfit is the ability to team separates together both in expected and unexpected ways that are distinctly your own. Effortlessness is what makes an outfit, an outfit. And that ultimately sells the look.”

But then there are editorial outfits which definitely comply to the idea of outfit-making for public consumption, though they sometimes tend to lack wearability. These ‘sometimes impractical but cool to look at’ outfits certainly bring out a streak of inspiration and aspiration alike, just like Dazed’s autumn/winter 2019 issue – The Fashion Made Me Hardcore , Nick Knight’s editorial ‘A Celebration Of Print’ in V Magazine or our very own The Indian Peacock – Rise of Menswear In India editorial. “While editorials portray the narrative of the editor/stylist involved, such distinct editorials celebrate fashion as an extension of art by creating something that is beyond the realms of consumerism.” says, Malini Banerji. And we couldn’t agree more. I mean, aren’t these editorials an absolute delight to look through for sole-purpose of consuming some unadulterated fashion?! I believe that’s a unanimous YES. And Sohiny Das, Co-founder of Grain Fashion Consultancy, further adds that, “Good casting can elevate a shoot(editorial or campaign) to another level. The question of the garment-wearer chemistry does not arise here since models are professional clotheshorses and chameleons. They are trained to suit multiple moods, themes and aesthetics.”

For celebrity-focused stories, Malini says, “When celebrities are involved, one needs to be mindful of their personalities when styling them. It can’t be anything overpowering, rather it should be just the right fit in a way that it seems like the outfit was made for them and them only.” Like the much-appreciated Kim Kardashian’s Vogue Arabia Septemeber’19 Issue cover shot in Thierry Mugler, British Vogue’s October’19 Issue cover shoot featuring Kaia Gerber or Verve Magazine’s The Entertainment Issue featuring Sobhita Dhulipala as the cover star. Also, these fantastical editorials always leave behind elements of curiosity in context of outfit-making i.e. reframing our ideas of colour and pattern play or even instilling that confidence to try out Kim’s power braid. And Priyanka adds, “They can be like a virtual moodboard, showing how imaginatively an outfit can be put together.”

Verve Magazine’s The Entertainment Issue with Sobhita Dhulipala as the cover star; Styled by Nikhil D. & Photographed by Bikramjit Bose

So, in that sense, the anatomy of an outfit is an open-ended instinct served with sides of effortless fun and uniqueness after all clothes are just visual chronicles of our adventures. And as Poornamrita, Costume Stylist, added,” When the clothes you wear enhance your personality and makes you feel good then it’s an outfit! When you feel good you look good.”




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