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Signature style

Emerge a winner by creating your own personal brand, writes Rekha Rodwittiya

I have always loved the grace of a sari and much to the amazement of my parents, I opted to wear this timeless garment from the age of 13. Style for me has always been a statement of self-representation. As an artist I live surrounded by colours every day of my life, yet for many years wore only a predominance of black. It provided me the liberty of accessorising in multiple ways with the minimum of effort and time, and allowed me to travel impulsively without agonising over what to pack. I am a workaholic and I spend long hours in my studio but, nonetheless, have always chosen to be well dressed as I abhor sloppiness in any form. A favourite attire of mine is a derivation of the south Indian half-sari. I have innovated with this traditional attire by taking two pieces of cloth that are dissimilar—one which I wear as a sarong and the other that I drape over my shoulder—highlighted by a contrasting choli. I also like wearing the Gujarati ghaghra with a dupatta as a pallu over my left shoulder.

Innovation and experimentation with style is great fun. I miss the days of buying cheap fabrics at local markets and visiting my tailor with hand-drawn designs for him to replicate. I have the privilege of designer friends who indulge me by translating my ideas in their workshops, especially for me. However, today there is also an abundance of well-styled readymade garments available for casual wear. What makes this an attractive option for every wardrobe is that playful innovation with mix-and-match potential, lending a personalised creativity to affordable fashion.

I go for plain colours over prints any day. Not being very tall at 5 ft 1 inch, and not wearing heels, solid bold colours are always a better bet. The colours of choice for me these days are bright and vibrant hues of rani pinks and parrot greens, with peacock blues and basoli yellows all vying for front-row status in my cupboards. My newfound delight is crushed palazzos with calf-length kurtas that are perfect for the hot summers of Baroda. For shopping, Khan Market in Delhi is my one-stop-get-it-all paradise. Bandhej, Good Earth, Tulsi and Ogaan are stores that me, and Raw Mango saris are my utter weakness.

To accessorise, I like to wear jewellery from Amrapali and Silverline, and have worn the same model Longines wristwatch for two decades. An essential is a roomy handbag that allows me to carry an assortment of things when I’m on the go—and with retro back in style I have my 1980s British NHS frames as my new pair of sunglasses that look like a million bucks! A kajal pencil, liquid eyeliner to draw my bindi with and a bottle of perfume constitute my makeup, and occasionally a hastily patted layer of MAC face powder, if ever. At the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying how you look for yourself.

I have never been a great follower of fashion. Slavish imitation to trends and fashion pundits’ opinions leave one without any signature identity to call one’s own. It is the interpretation of how to adapt fashion to suit your individual personality that paves the way for real style to pronounce itself. I’m a great propounder of women ageing without apology. My perception of how good I feel about myself is the most important key to me being comfortable with who I am. In my opinion, herein lies the simple secret that allows women of all ages to face the world looking 100 per cent a style icon and a winner!

Artist, writer and independent curator, Rodwittiya lives and works in Vadodara, and is the founder of The Collective Studio Baroda

Photo: N Divya
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
June 2016