Read Surveys (By Author)
1. When do you feel at your most attractive?
When I've had a great workout and I feel cleansed and am shining. Also when I am in the arms of someone I love.
2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?
Those with an eclectic style, that shows something of their own character and decisions rather than store bought - high street or designer. I like the little quirks, how someone ties their scarf, or carries a market bag or takes something simple and makes it their own.
I admire women who are stylish but in a natural, elegant way rather than a contrived, super put together look
3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?
Those things like discipline - clear hair, teeth, clean short nails, being groomed. Being presentable always is like good manners. Women who are confident in their own bodies, who seem truly accepting and comfortable of who they are.
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?
I think at 12. Learning how to apply Kajal, Indian kohl and also what I am named for. This simple black line to accentuate my eyes, it is so Indian - regardless of class and education. No matter where in the world I go, my Kajal pencil is this one simple thing that feels like a declaration of where I grew up. Well, and rose water.
Jewelry - a big part of my heritage and earrings seem to make or break an outfit for me. I discovered at uni in England, that my silver traditional jhumkas with a simple white T shirt - those earrings that swing with movement and make a tiny tinkling sound - it is home with me in my ears, ha! But seriously - accessories. I often pick my earrings first and then match my outfit to them for special occasions.
5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?
1. If you love it, really really love it - buy multiples
2. Shop alone - opinions are distracting, you should know what you like and what looks good on you
3. Have a clear non vain idea of what works and does not work for you. Stick to it. Evolve naturally but don't force follow a trend, please!
6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?
I don't like to mix patterns, personally but I know people who can pull this off brilliantly.
7. What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had on the subject of fashion or style?
I think with my aunt at 16 perhaps, when I was starting to rebel against the convent school uniform style of dressing - not the school uniform, but that we all looked exactly the same. I didn't need skinny jeans and boots in Delhi summers, I wanted - of course, cotton floaty dresses and muslin tunics. I had the luxury of a massive amazing closet and learnt early about custom tailoring and alterations.. With her - discussing what I like, what suits me and why I don't have to dress exactly like my best friends - these principles are still things I live by.
8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.
Lists, lists, lists.
if I seem organizing and like I have my act together - it is only by way of making and striking things off lists. And reflection - making time to look at how I am living vs how I want to live. This works for everything from how my kitchen is run to how my home looks, how I travel and how organized my bank accounts are.
To have how I live reflect the kind of person I want to be...
I have big goals broken into to-do lists and timelines to achieve them by. I also often take a step back from complicated situations when I can't figure anything out.
9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?
I buy a lot of white cotton dresses - when I travel, or go back home to India. they are easy to dress up or down, and remind me of being younger and more carefree. They are also perfect for the tropical climate I now live in - Singapore.
10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?
One of my favourite people in the world gave me a custom made necklace which is a line from a Neruda poems. It is in gold, in his handwriting and very dear from me.
I also have diamonds from one granny and a simple gold bangle from my other granny that I cherish and wear often.
11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why?
Bleurgh. So many. those drop crotch pants, gross. Torn tight jeans. looking like a hobo on purpose. anything with logos. wearing gym clothes to live in.
I don't want to live like other people, I don't want to look like other people.
12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?
To always be put together, to be glamourous - this was a lady who wore perfectly draped saris, matching glass bangles, simple diamonds and chanel no 5 every single day - as a surgeon attending to her patients.
To be brainy and to be beautiful at the same time - regardless of my complicated relationship with her - these are things that my sister and I grew up believing are normal. She did not follow trends but did take pride in her appearance and in my 30s, I am learning how much I absorbed of that. White lilies perfect and somewhat indulgent - hard to procure- tea, crisp clean linen - maybe all of these things more than her body or her wardrobe is what style consists of
13. Have you stolen, borrowed or adapted any dressing ideas or actual items from friends or family?
I have an older sister and love/ treat her closet like an extension of my own.
I have several earrings of hers - including a pair of emeralds that she does not seem to be missing, ha!
My close friends and I sometimes give each other clothes that we admire on the other. I have an over sized green kimono from a good friend and a silk scarf from another.
14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?
when I moved to London, aged 21 - working in a French agency. That was probably my biggest switch as the ladies around me - on the tube, at work, in coffee shops - all looked so perfectly put together that I made more of an effort.
In London, I took more time with my clothes, hair and make up. When I moved to Hong Kong, at 28 - my wardrobe changed to suit the climate but being surrounded by glamour and style and money perhaps - means a little of that rubs off
15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?
Not really but I like and support several small Indian designers and labels - that I wear with pride and advocate where ever I am
16. Please describe your body.
Curvy! Hourglassy when toned and fit - big smile, curves, smaller waist, bigger hips. I like my arms and shoulders, they are fit from boxing.
I have to work out regularly and watch what I eat to keep my shape. If I am undisciplined, I will turn into an unsexy blob.
17. Please describe your mind.
Hungry, curious, always changing.
I take care to feed it every day and weed it regularly too.
Generally I try to be happy but sometimes in very complicated situations, I think my mind can explode and then be extremely hurtful and ugly - inside and out. I am aware of this and work on it regularly.
18. Please describe your emotions.
I meditate every morning as without that, I do not feel grounded.
Today - it is Sunday and I am happy. There is lovely coffee, emails to reply to, lunch is perfect broccoli and tofu stir fry, my house is clean and there is an Indian rose scented oil in my burner. My mind is calm and unhurried, I know what I will be doing later and am looking forward to catching up with old friends.
19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?
I just took a shower, I never blow dry my hair so it is still wet. I am wearing a soft, blue cotton t shirt - v neck and made from sustainable cotton. I am wearing black yoga pants as I plan to go for a class later in the afternoon. No make up, just some simple aloe based moisturizer.
When I go out, I will add kohl and lip balm. But I am not a big fan of make up beyond that.
20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?
It is important because it is part of who I am, right now - in this moment, in this apartment in Singapore, running my own business - this is the woman I am. And everything it has taken to get here is condensed and reflected in how I show myself to the world.
21. With whom do you talk about clothes?
I don't talk that much about clothes - sometimes with friends
I play stylist to my friends and am often asked to take them shopping or help build new looks.
22. How do institutions affect the way you dress?
I work in a creative industry so I don't have a real work wardrobe per se. But when I go to a meeting in a bank, I am always more conservative.
I also hate how H&M and other fast fashion chains are making us lazy - everything is there within reach, copy a look, don't think about what you are buying, give in and have too much junk.
so I edit and have budgets for clothes and give a piece away for each I buy. this comes from HK and living in small spaces and moving countries often perhaps.
23. Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?
I think good taste can be cultivated, or learnt. It is more surface. It can be easily borrowed or faked even.
Style I think is inherent. you grow up with it, it is a sum total of your experiences, your travels, what you read and what you listen to. It is in how you order vegetables, how you treat your friends, how you make your coffee.
I hope I am stylish with a splash of (bad) taste. Life is more fun that way!
24. Do you remember the biggest waste of money you ever made on an item of clothing?
A really gorgeous grey woollen coat that I bought in Shanghai on a cold winter trip and have worn exactly twice since :(
25. Are there any dressing tricks you’ve invented or learned that make you feel like you’re getting away with something?
Inexpensive clothes > tailored perfectly to your body, a few snips and changes when you know garments and your own flaws >> can look so much more expensive and put together.
26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?
In everything. In everyday, I hope.
How you work, what you do for work, how you maintain relationships, how you take care of your body and mind, how you decorate, entertain, eat.
And who you are when no one is looking.
27. Can you recall some times when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?
When I have a big meeting, I wear heels to look taller and feel more confident. I wear solid colours and no big accessories so that they can focus on what I am saying.
When I feel scared or tired, I wear an old old blue jumper with a hoodie so I can pretend to hide from the world
When I miss my Dad, I wear his grey cashmere sweater sometimes.... or I did, when I lived in places with a real winter
28. Would you say you “know what you like” in the area of fashion and clothing? If so, do you also know what you like in other areas of life, that is, are you generally good at discernment? Can you say where your discernment comes from, if you have it? Or if you don’t have it, why or why not?
Yes, I generally know what I like. I think it comes from living in different places and meeting with a lot of interesting, well informed people. So if you are sponge, you can pick up bits from everyone and everything.
Like in a small village in Vietnam, I loved how they were using soup ladles for soap dishes. And I incorporated that in my Shanghai apartment.
29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?
yes, we (the kids) were responsible for checking our school uniform was ironed and free of any tears or missing buttons. we also had to polish our own shoes - My Dad taught me how.
so I think checking for the condition of my clothes, having things repaired quickly when needed and keeping an eye on my shoes is what I learn. It is great to be friends with an excellent tailor and cobbler.
30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?
I like to wear my hair down with lots of volume, imperfect is sexier than sleek.
I like to show my shape, I feel powerful and confident when I dress in dresses that cinch at my waist. And wearing good matching lingerie.
Perfume. sexy alluring custom made perfume.
34. What do you consider very ugly?
unpedicured feet out in the open - I mean ugly, chipped nail paint, feet not taken care of say a lot about the person they belong to.
40. If you had to wear a “uniform” what would it look like?
A navy dress, pearls and gold sandals
41. What would you say is “you” and what would you say is “not you”?
I am not loud clothes, colourful kaftans or bling.
I am neutral, with happy accessories and a fantastic bag collection
42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?
I love love love India and my love of colour and jewelry comes from my culture. Because I grew up in New Delhi which is super hot in the summers, I am happiest in cotton. I only wear natural fabrics. And hate polyester.
Certain beauty habits like coconut oil for my hair, tiny dabs of rose and vetiver oils also come from India
51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?
jazz age! new york!!
52. Do you consider yourself photogenic?
yes, as long as I smile
53. When you see yourself in photographs, what do you think?
Generally that I was prettier and slimmer than I felt at the time. We are all so self critical.
56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?
body con dresses! too tight jeans and heels. anything too fussy with lace and bits around
60. What do you think of perfume? Do you wear it?
love it and wear it sparingly. my scents change with my moods and my day but I usually wear a custom made perfume based on scents of my childhood. It is comforting, not loud, close to the skin and very me.
61. What are some things you need to do to your body or clothes in order to feel presentable?
clean hair, nails and teeth. clear skin, hair brushed.
clothes - neat, no tears or threads, ironed.
62. How does makeup fit into all this for you?
Don't wear much except for super special occassions like weddings!
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?
punk? anything dark and angry and stormy.
65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
A silk tunic from India that I have had for over 15 years, is in great condition and fits well regardless of fat or skinny months!!
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?
small bits of jewelry or clothes from local stores discovered while travelling
68. Is there an item of clothing that you once owned, but no longer own, and still think about or wish you had back? What was it, what happened to it, and why do you want it back?
a perfect soft snug leather jacket - moto style that I wore often in London and was nicked at a pub. I miss it, it felt like a hug.
69. If you had to throw out all your clothes but keep one thing, what would you keep?
a black cotton-silk dress that works regardless of occasion
70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?
buy less and edit more
71. What’s the first “investment” item you bought? Do you still own or wear it?
A YSL mobasa bag in dark brown from Tom Ford's last collection. I still own it and carry it often.
72. Was there ever an important or paradigm-shifting purchase in your life?
Setting up my own company made me realize I need to update my look to look less happy-creative and more in control business person.
73. What item of clothing are you still (or have you forever been) on the hunt for?
The perfect white shirt.
74. What are your closet and drawers like? Do you keep things neat, etc?
custom made closet, very neat. Organized and micro organized.
78. Do you like to smell a certain way?
yes, soft, sensual but not loud.
80. How does money fit into all this?
need it, love it, have it and want to spend it well.
81. Is there an article of clothing, a piece of make-up, or an accessory that you carry with you or wear every day?
I wear lip balm everyday and always have some on me.
When I feel insecure, I wear a gold necklace that says 'om' - given to me by my parents when I left home for the first time. I feel it protects me.
What’s your birth date? Where were you born and where do you live now?
18th June, 1981
Born in Delhi but live in Singapore by way of.. London Hong Kong and Shanghai
Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.
Love being Indian, very glad I grew up in the mad dysfunctional stylish and glamourous family I did
What kind of work do you do?
Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?
In love.. not married, no kids and not aspiring for either
Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.
I'm in my early 30's, well educated, well travelled and somewhat privileged in the context of my childhood. so I feel blessed.
How do you feel after filling out this survey?
Glad that I took the time, the questions were thoughtful and I learnt some things about myself
Kajal loves coffee, smokey eyes and white cotton dresses. Often worn with sentimental gold jewelry and a big smile.