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Roshni Nair

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm wearing black kohl. It's the only makeup I wear.

Also, when I wear a dress. I have a pear-shaped body with the whole thunder-thighs-and-hips package. Dresses undo all my bodily insecurities that come with wearing jeans and leggings.

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

All the time. The women I admire most have good skin and husky voices (if I'm close enough to hear them). And tattoos too (good ones, not something they got done when they were hungover or on a dare).

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I envy those who don't give a shit about what others think of their sartorial choices. You may be dressed badly enough to become a laughing stock, but if you have your head held high through it all — I'm your fan.

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

As someone who was fat, I grew up hating my body. I hated that I didn't have a thigh gap. Hated that I had small boobs with puffy nipples. I also hated my hair, which is very thick and hard to manage.

I wore baggy clothes — mostly men's — everyday to 'hide' my flab. It did nothing for my self-esteem. That changed when I lost weight and yes, when I started wearing summer dresses. It was a revelation to see what a dress could do for my body type.

It was also a time when I accepted that I perhaps look best in Indian ethnic wear, particularly cotton kurtis. I grew up hating them because I stupidly believed that only older women wear ethnic clothes. Thank God I grew out of that. Kurtis are practical and comfortable. Perhaps the least demanding of all 'feminine' clothes.

As for my hair — I still struggle with it. It's almost always scrunched up in a bun because of the heat, and because I travel a lot. People keep asking me why I (literally) don't let my hair down. I just tell them it's because it's my hair, and I can do what I want with it. I'd rather be comfortable than doze off in a salon while having hairdressers hardsell products to me.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

I'm a terrible shopper. Meaning I shop once in 5-6 months. But when I do, I go into overdrive. It's the equivalent of skipping meals, then eating few days' worth in one go.

I tend to buy a lot of accessories. I'm a firm believer in the accessories-can-make-or-break-your-look school of thought.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

I love big, bold colours — fuchsia, lime green, mango yellow, aubergine, peacock blue, flame orange. They make me feel alive, and that comes across in the way I carry myself thereafter. I wouldn't recommend them to others only because I know the majority are icky about loud hues.

7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?

It wasn't a conversation as much as it was an observation. I was on vacation in Leh, Ladakh (in the state of Jammu & Kashmir). The local women there wear absolutely no makeup. They don't give a fuck about fashion and things like getting their hair done.

They're the happiest women I've seen in my life.

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

It's terribly simplistic, but my only mantra is: if it makes you happy, it's worth it.

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

Kurtis. They're so versatile — they can be worn with jeans, leggings, salwars, harem pants, shorts. They can also straddle all three zones- formal, casual and semi-casual/semi-formal. They're the Swiss army knife of women's clothing.

And when it comes to footwear — flip flops. I shudder to think of a world without them.

10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?

There are four things I avoid when buying something for someone — clothing, jewellery, shoes, and perfume. It's almost like saying "This is how I want you to look/smell". Or maybe it's just me overthinking this too much?

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

I refuse to let trends dictate my personal style. Are my dungarees too 1980? Well sod it, because I love them.

Also — crop tops, Birkenstocks, stonewashed jeans, sky-high heels, high-lows, high-waisted pants/shorts. They need to fall off the face of the earth.

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

I have nothing in common with my mom when it comes to both body and style. Mom is banana-shaped, but with broad shoulders and big bone structure. She also sticks to earthy and pastel shades and loves her trousers and jeans.

Yup, nothing in common.

13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?

No, and I'd like to keep it that way.

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

Answer 4.

15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?

Pretty often. I consciously go against what's 'in' or isn't. It's my way of flipping a bird to the (fashion) establishment.

I don't know if this counts as political, but I'm also vehemently anti-fur and anti-leather.

16. Please describe your body.

Black hair, down to my lower back. A broad forehead (currently plagued by a rash). Well-shaped eyebrows and inquisitive brown eyes with dark circles under them. Straight nose (pierced) and full lips with a beauty mark on the left side of my mouth. And a labret piercing.

I'm 5'3" with small shoulders, small breasts and rough hands. My collarbones are very prominent, and I have a tatto of the Egyptian goddess Maat running across the back of my neck. Legs: saddlebags and big thighs, but thin shins and ankles (chicken legs). Small toes, pretty feet.

Last but not least, a big rump.

17. Please describe your mind.


18. Please describe your emotions.


19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

No makeup. My hair is up in a messy bun, as it almost always is.

I'm wearing black leggings, a purple and yellow boyfriend shirt, and white crochet ballerinas.

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

It's very me.

22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?

Hardly ever so. Except when I'm required to go to places that have strict dress codes (like an interview, for example).

24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?

Not an item of clothing, but here goes anyway. I blew 7000 bucks (Indian Rupees) on a pair of Charles & Keith stilettos I've ended up wearing just twice in five years. They're beautiful, but uncomfortable. I wore them on a night out and my feet went numb. I won't ever put myself through that again.

33. What is really beautiful, for you, in general?

Intelligence and self-assurance.

34. What do you consider very ugly?


50. Do you ever wish you were a man or could dress like a man or had a man’s body? Was there ever a time in the past?

There was a phase I went through when I wanted to be a man. I wanted to dress like a man, smell like a man, think like a man, get paid like a man. I wanted a dick. I wanted to know what it'd be like on the giving end of penile penetration. I wanted to be a man in a man's world. I wanted things to be easy for a change.

I outgrew that around four years ago.

51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

The '70s. Loose-flowing everything and a big 'fuck you' to the establishment is my cup of tea.

52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?

I'm yet to come across anyone more unphotogenic than me.

54. Are there any figures from culture, past or present, whose style you admire or have drawn from?

Debbie Harry.

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

High-waisted everything.

57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?

Short shorts, ganjis/tank tops, and jumpsuits.

58. Is there anyone that you are trying to attract or repel when you dress?

Attract, yes. She's a lovely girl who's blissfully unaware of the fact that I go all out in dressing up and going to the salon before we catch up. She always tells me how great I look, and I always chuckle inside.

59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?

No, I don't believe in telling others how they should dress.

60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?

I love perfume, but don't wear it everyday. My favourites are Tendre Poison and Dune, both by Dior.

63. Is there a certain look you feel you’re expected to like that you have absolutely no interest in? What is it? Why aren’t you interested?

The 'well done hair' look. I love it, no doubt. But my hair type and daily schedule just doesn't give me the leeway to blow dry my hair all the time or go to a salon to fix it up. I go once a month, and it's enough for me. I have no interest in going out of my comfort zone because everyone around me does so.

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

Silver earrings of all kinds — hoops, antique trinkets, ear studs, nose rings and pins. It's such a beautiful metal.

66. Tell us about something in your closet that you keep but never wear. What is it, why don’t you wear it, and why do you keep it?

Tees that used to fit me, but don't. I keep them as motivation to get more toned so I can put them on... some day.

67. Looking back at all your purchases over the past five to fifteen years, can you generalize about what sorts of things were the most valuable to buy?

Silver hoop earrings, flip-flops, black trousers, straight cut jeans (only one brand that fits me like a glove — Mustang), coloured shrugs.

73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?

I'm on the hunt for a pair of Aztec (print) Converses. It's a hunt that will never end.

78. Do you like to smell a certain way?

Yes — good. Whether citrus, aqua, or floral doesn't matter. But there's nothing as exhilarating as freshly bathed skin.

81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?

Answer 1.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

16th February. I was born in Bombay, and I'm still living here.

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

My father was from the South Indian state of Kerala. My mother is part Kashmiri and part Konkani (Konkan is a coastal region of India). I'm basically a couldron of North and South India — two regions that have very distinct cultures and ways of life.

I come from a middle class family that has seen its share of financial woes.

What kind of work do you do?

I'm a journalist.

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?

Single and heartbroken at present. Not looking. Don't ever want to have kids.

Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.

I'm creative, hot-tempered, and a loner. Introversion is second nature, though not in the right company. I'm a melancholic drunk and fiercely independent. The nature of existence is something I think about all the time.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

Relaxed. Wish I had more time to shape my answers in a better way.

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