By Nishat Fatima For Men’s Life Today
Is your wardrobe a shrine to dozens of jeans in the same shade of blue and primary colour T-shirts? Or chinos and blue shirts? Men’s style can be difficult, not because there’s too much choice but because there’s too little. So how do you shake things up with limited options? Take a cue from Bollywood, India’s most powerful arbiter of fashion. These are movies that have already proved their fashion cred, with looks that have come, seen and conquered.
According to Niharkia Bhasin Khan, costume designer on movies such as Rock On!!, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year and Band Baaja Baaraat, style isn’t about going out and buying something you saw in a movie. “It’s about how you put things together. And most importantly, being comfortable in what you are wearing.”
Sounds good, but no idea how to put that into action? No problem. We get the Bollywood costume designers themselves to take a crack at five looks and break them down into easy-to-follow ideas.
1. Rockstar (2011)
The look: Dhoti pyjamas with T-shirts and military jackets
Ranbir Kapoor’s desi-meets-rock mashup in the movie’s title role is one of Bollywood’s style highlights, both striking and with excellent cultural referencing. Ranbir wears checked dhotis with T-shirts, befrogged military jackets, junk jewellery and army caps. So yes, it’s safe to assume that if you tried to copy that from head to toe you would get more than a few strange looks. The trick to making this work in real life is to pick only the basic elements — wear either the dhoti and T-shirt or the military jacket with your most casual jeans.
2. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
The look: Hats, scarves, waistcoats, bracelets, leather flip-flops
Farhan Akhtar wasn’t the only biggest revelation in ZNMD — so was his use of accessories. “Farhan upped the style quotient with accessories,” says Khan. His character Imran does what fashion calls high-low style — mixing branded designerwear with street finds — with ease. He wears crumpled kurtas with jeans, Converse sneakers and designer sunglasses; kolhapuri slippers with linen suits; straw hats with T-shirts and waistcoats, and scarves with sleeveless tees. It was all very casual and very cool.
3. Aisha (2010)
The look: Slim suits in mixed neutral shades
As investment banker Arjun Burman, Abhay Deol can’t really stray from the job’s uniform — business suits. He wears thin, notched-lapel, two-button blazers with white shirts and diagonal striped ties, all very understated and elegant. According to Aisha’s costume designer Kunal Rawal, what set them apart are the colours. “They are unusual shades of mixed neutrals, like a combination of olive and grey.” His tip: Never skimp on a suit: get it tailor-made.
4. Wake Up Sid! (2009)
The look: T-shirts with cartoon-character prints and jeans
Ranbir Kapoor once again. This time his character Sid is your garden-variety slacker with a rich dad. He’s also young, and he loves his cartoons. Every T-shirt has a character printed on it: Mickey Mouse, The Joker, Batman, Beavis and Butthead, Atom Ant, Robin, Superman and The Hulk. “T-shirts are a basic building block in your wardrobe, but they were made into a style statement by the graphic prints that revealed the character’s interests,” says Khan. Take the hint.
5. Rock On!! (2008)
The look: Faded jeans with T-shirts, a shirt shrugged on top
Rock On!! ushered in another good day for fashion. Arjun Rampal won a National Award for his role — he deserved it and so did his wardrobe. “It was very casual, not heavy metal, but very much in the framework of rocker,” says Khan, who did the costumes. Aged, comfort fit jeans or cargo shorts with a little light layering — open shirts over T-shirts. The accessories were equally casual and minimal — leather sandals, a leather thong around the neck, a bandana. Long hair doesn’t hurt either.
Nishat Fatima is a freelance writer and photographer based in Hyderabad. She has contributed to Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Khaleej Times, and is currently working on her first book. This is Nishat’s first article inMen’s Life Today